Pusch Ridge WildernessWilderness Watch has told the Forest Service (FS) it needs to drop its plan to significantly manipulate or trammel the Pusch Ridge and Rincon Mountain Wildernesses outside of Tucson, Arizona as part of its Catalina-Rincon Firescape Project. The Forest Service is planning extensive burns along with some cutting, slashing, and logging to build firelines within the Wildernesses. Wilderness Watch supports allowing lightning-caused fire to play its natural role in Wilderness, but there is nothing natural about this FS proposal which would significantly alter these Wildernesses and destroy the areas’ wilderness character.

 

The nearly 57,000-acre Pusch Ridge Wilderness in the Sonoran desert is named for Pusch Ridge, which rises almost 9,000 feet above sea level. The nearby nearly 37,000-acre Rincon Mountain Wilderness borders the Saguaro Wilderness in Saguaro National Park.


The agency is proposing to allow the use of motor vehicles (mainly helicopters) and motorized equipment (mainly chainsaws) in the Wildernesses to conduct the massive project. The vast majority of both Wildernesses could be affected—about 45,000 acres of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and 34,000 acres of the Rincon Mountain Wilderness. The agency’s Environmental Assessment (EA) fails to prove any of its proposed actions are necessary to administer the Wildernesses to preserve their wilderness character. The EA additionally makes a number of false assumptions related to what drives wildfires.

 

Read our comments.

 

Photo: Pusch Ridge Wilderness by Miguel Vieira

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