Hearings and Business Meetings

Jun 28 2005

10:00 AM

Subcommittee on National Parks

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM

Elizabeth Archuleta

Chairman, Coconino County Board of Supervisors

United States Senate Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources

Walnut Canyon Study Act of 2005

S. 556







 i. Board of Supervisors/City Council Joint Resolution
 ii. Ecology and Biology/List of Flora and Fauna in Study Area
iii. List of Current Public Uses
iv. Public Process
v. Results of NAU’s Social Research Laboratory Survey



The area’s unique characteristics also make it desirable for development.  The possible encroachment of development on lands surrounding Walnut Canyon National Monument became a topic of significant community discussion in the fall of 2001.  The issues of protection in perpetuity, management and the appropriateness of current uses became focal points of the dialogue.
There was extensive discussion followed by an inclusive public input process.  On February 12, 2002 the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and the Flagstaff City Council conducted a joint meeting to discuss the issues.  A “staff group” was then formed including staff from the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, the State Game and Fish Department, the City of Flagstaff and Coconino County to further discuss the public input process which would take place over the summer of 2002.  The final schedule for public input included three meetings (see appendix iv.).
Along with the public meetings, a phone survey was conducted (see appendix v.).  In May of 2002, Coconino County and the City of Flagstaff sanctioned a survey to be conducted by the Social Research Laboratory of Northern Arizona University.  Seventy-six percent (76%) of Flagstaff region residents “strongly support” or “somewhat support” expanding Walnut Canyon National Monument while only fourteen percent (14%) of respondents “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” this expansion, while eleven percent (11%) said they do not know.
In addition to the Board of Supervisors and City Council Joint Sessions, Staff Group meetings, Public Input Meetings and survey by the Social Research Laboratory, hundreds of letters and calls were received from the public.
The public input resulted in a joint City of Flagstaff/Coconino County Board of Supervisors resolution to request authorization from Congress for a study (see appendix i.).  The resolution is consistent with the public desire arrived at through an open process, with citizen, state, local and federal participation, to determine the best manner in which to protect these lands and resources from development in perpetuity, while allowing the continuation of current uses. 
The joint resolution specifically requests Congress to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly conduct a Special Resources and Land Management Study to determine the national significance of the Study Area resources and whether they merit special congressional designation.  We have a particular interest in the range of alternative management options for these resources through any designation that will accomplish both federal protection in perpetuity and continued public uses and access to the Study Area.  It is our ongoing belief that good stewardship of our land is a public value.  In that spirit we implore you to authorize the Walnut Canyon Study Act of 2005. 


i. Board of Supervisors/City Council Joint Resolution
ii. Ecology and Biology/List of Flora and Fauna in Study Area
iii. List of Current Public Uses
iv. Public Process
v. Results of NAU’s Social Research Laboratory Survey

ii. Ecology and Biology/List of Flora and Fauna in Study Area

Ecotones, formed by overlapping ecological communities, within and adjacent to Walnut Canyon bring together species usually separated by elevation to create a rare compression of flora and fauna zones.
A Walnut Canyon National Monument checklist lists 63 plant families, with 198 genera and 325 species, and it is likely that most or all of these species also exist in the surrounding area.  There are present approximately 109 species of birds, 60 mammal species, 13 reptile species and four amphibian species, including several sensitive species.
The area contains federally threatened species as well as state species of special concern, including bald eagles, peregrine flacons, the Mexican Spotted Owl, northern goshawks and red bats among others.
The areas north and south of Walnut Canyon are essential to wildlife movement in the vicinity of the canyon.  A major southwest to northeast wildlife corridor runs through this area.  Species using this corridor include elk, deer, antelope, bear, mountain lion and bighorn sheep.  Wildlife likely will rely on perennial water provided by springs such as Cherry Canyon in the area during times of drought.
A buffer zone separating the canyon and development is needed to protect the ecosystem.  There would very likely be a disturbance to wildlife movement patterns in this area were there to be urban development interfacing with boundaries of the monument.

 Vertebrate Species documented or likely present at
Walnut Canyon National Monument and the surrounding area

A “(v)” indicates that a voucher specimen was taken in the area, usually from Walnut Canyon National Monument. An “(o)” indicates that an observation was made of the species by a reliable source. All other species are likely to occur in this area and some may have been documented elsewhere.


Spotted Sandpiper
Turkey Vulture (v)
Bald Eagle (o)
Golden Eagle (o)
Cooper’s Hawk (v)
Ferruginous Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk (v)
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Osprey (o)
American Kestrel
Northern Goshawk (v)
Peregrine Falcon (o)
Prairie Falcon
Wild Turkey (o)
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove (v)
Greater Roadrunner (o)
Great-horned Owl (v)
Flammulated Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl (v)
Mexican Spotted Owl (o)
Common Nighthawk (v)
Common Poorwill
White-throated Swift (v)
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird (v)
Rufous Hummingbird (v)
Acorn Woodpecker (v)
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker (v)
Lewis’ Woodpecker (v)
Red-shafted Flicker (o)
Yellow-shafted Flicker (o)
Williamson’s Sapsucker (v)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Gray Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Western Wood-peewee
Black Phoebe (o)
Say’s Phoebe (o)
Horned Lark
Cliff Swallow (o)
Rough-winged Swallow
Violet-green Swallow (o)
Purple Martin
Clark’s Nutcracker (o)
Pinyon Jay (v)
Scrub Jay (v)
Steller’s Jay (v)
American Crow
Common Raven (o)
Bushtit (v)
Plain Titmouse
Mountain Chickadee (o)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (v)
White-breasted Nuthatch (v)
Pygmy Nuthatch (v)
Canyon Wren (o)
House Wren (o)
Rock Wren (o)
Brown Creeper
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird (v)
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend’s Solitaire
Cedar Waxing (v)
American Robin (v) 
Loggerhead Shrike
Northern Mockingbird
Solitary Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Black-throated Grey Warbler (v)
Grace’s Warbler (v)
Macgillvray’s Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Red-faced Warbler (o)
Townsend’s Warbler
Virginia’s Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (v)
Wilson’s Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Black-headed Grosbeak (V)
Evening Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Green-tailed Towhee (o)
Rufous-sided Towhee (v)
Black-chinned Sparrow (v)
Brewer’s Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow (v)
Dark-eyed Junco (v)
Western Meadowlark
Brewer’s Blackbird
Northern Oriole
Hepatic Tanager
Western Tanager (v)
Lesser Goldfinch
Cassin’s Goldfinch (v)
House Finch (o)
Pine Siskin (o)
Red Crossbill (v)



Desert Shrew (v)
Merriam’s Shrew (v)
Allen’s Big-eared Bat (v)
Big Brown Bat (v)
Big-eared Bat
Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (v)
California Myotis (v)
Fringed Myotis (v)
Hoary Bat (v)
Little Brown Bat
Long-eared Myotis (v)
Long-legged Myotis (v)
Arizona Myotis (v)
Small-footed Myotis (v)
Pallid Bat (v)
Red Bat
Spotted Bat (v)
Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (v)
Long-tailed Weasel
Striped Skunk (o)
Spotted Skunk (o)
Hog-nosed Skunk (o)
Ringtail (o)
Raccoon (o)
Coatimundi (o)
Black Bear (o)
Coyote (o)
Gray Fox (v)
Bobcat (o)
 Mountain Lion (o)
Javelina (o)
Mexican Woodrat (v)
Stephen’s Woodrat (v)
White-throated Woodrat
Brush Mouse (v)
Deer Mouse (v)
Pinyon Mouse (v)
Northern Grasshopper Mouse
Western Harvest Mouse (v)
Botta’s Pocket Gopher (o)
Ord’s Kangaroo Rat (v)
Apache Pocket Mouse
Silky Pocket Mouse (v)
Plains Pocket Mouse (v)
Mexican Vole (v)
Abert’s Squirrel (o)
Cliff Chipmunk
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (v)
Gray-collared Chipmunk (v)
Rock Squirrel (v)
Black-tailed Jackrabbit (v)
Desert Cottontail (o)
Elk (o)
Mule Deer (o)
White-tailed Deer
Pronghorn Antelope (v)
Mountain Sheep (v)

Reptiles and Amphibians
Eastern Fence Lizard (v)
Tree Lizard (v)
Short-horned Lizard (v)
Many-lined Skink (o)

Cnemidophorus innotatus (no common name) (v)
Plateau Striped Whiptail (v)
Little Striped Whiptail (v)
Tiger Salamander
Mountain Treefrog (o)
 Gopher Snake (v)
Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (v)
Ringneck Snake (v)
Western Terrestrial (Wandering) Garter Snake (v)
Western Rattlesnake-Hopi Subspecies (v)

Arizona Black Rattlesnake

Canyon Treefrog (v)
Striped Chorus Frog



iii. List of Current Uses

a. Bird watching
b. Camping
c. Driving for pleasure on roads/trails
d. Firewood gathering
e. General exercise
f. Group uses
g. Hiking
h. Horseback riding
i. Hunting
j. Livestock grazing
k. Mountain biking
l. Painting
m. Rock climbing
n. Sightseeing
o. Skiing
p. Snowmobiling
q. Target practice as permitted
r. Walking with pets
s. Wildlife viewing
 iv. Public Process

 The 1st Public Input Meeting was held on May 29th during which the Agencies involved provided introductions and broad overviews of their missions and responsibilities, specifically as to how they related to the land involved.  This meeting went almost three hours and was attended by approximately 60 people.  A map of the area was provided to the audience.  The attendees were then asked to answer questions and identify areas of the map that they felt were valuable to them.  This questionnaire became one of the main tools for public input over the summer.
The 2nd Public Input Meeting was held on June 26th in order to inform the public about the natural resources and known uses in the Walnut Canyon Area.  The meeting involved a presentation and discussion about the archeology, endangered species, watersheds and other significant features in the area.  The public was also provided a Land Ownership Designation matrix that explained the types of land designations that can exist on State and Federal lands.  Each staff member provided the information regarding their agency’s land designations for this matrix.  During their presentations, each staff member discussed the current planning efforts that were being conducted in the area by their agency.  The public then asked specific questions and made statements.  The majority of the comments centered on the issue of how the land could be used with the major sentiment being that whatever the final decision many citizens wanted to retain the uses they were currently enjoying in the area.  The main point of disagreement among those attending was which agency would have ultimate jurisdiction over the land.  After the presentations and public discussion, the audience was invited to visit several different booths set up by the agencies, the Friends of Walnut Canyon and the Ranchers.
The 3rd Public Input Meeting was held on July 31st in an open house format and was attended by approximately 100 people.  Staff gathered information from the public in response to the two educational meetings held in May and June.  The public was asked to describe their desired plans and what they wanted to see preserved based on all of the information that had been provided. Based on the public input during the first two meetings, staff presented six alternative choices for review and comment.  Each person who had signed-in was given a questionnaire to fill out and a voting sticker.  The results are remarkably similar to the survey conducted by the Social Research Laboratory.  The questionnaire asked the public to rank the importance of features in the Walnut Canyon area, to rank the uses that they wanted to continue and rank them in order of importance.  Additional alternative were also suggested and given attention during the meeting.



v. Results of NAU’s Social Research Laboratory Survey
The Staff Group and the Social Research Laboratory collaboratively developed the concept for a survey instrument.  The survey was conducted in the Flagstaff Metropolitan Area and was conducted between August 6th and 8th, 2002.  The survey included 434 Flagstaff region residents including residents living in the City of Flagstaff as well as unincorporated areas of Coconino County including Kachina, Mountainaire, Parks, Ft. Valley and Doney Park.  Methodology was employed such that percentages obtained are estimates of what the percentage would be if the entire population had been surveyed with a sampling error of +/-4.8 percent.
When asked what types of features they would like to permanently protect in the area surrounding Walnut Canyon National Monument respondents named historic and geologic sites (94%), scenery (93%), and vegetation, wildlife and wildlife habitat (93%).  The feature which the fewest proportion of respondents would like to permanently protect is allowing future private development (19%).
Regarding uses they would like to permanently protect in the area respondents named recreational activities (92%), camping (83%), grazing (45%) and hunting (45%).