Is there a new highway planned to bisect the pristine El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve? It appears that it is at least an idea from photos acquired by Wild Sonora. These maps seem to show a 4-lane separated highway cut-off from Route 2 through the sand dunes just west of Pinacate down to the Route 3 coastal highway. The length from maps appears to be about 50 km and cuts right down the east/west center of the reserve.
This area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and part of numerous protected areas on both sides of the border together making one of the largest protected areas in North America. Beyond these designations it is incredibly beautiful and biologically rich. More than 540 species of vascular plants, 44 mammals, more than 200 birds and over 40 reptiles inhabit the seemingly inhospitable desert*. Noteworthy species include the Sonoran Pronghorn, an endemic subspecies restricted to the south-western Arizona and north-western Sonora and threatened by extinction.
Terrapene nelsoniseems to only be active in Sonora during the wetest part of the monsoon season, primarily the later part of July through early Sept. See more photo of these species in thisTerrapene nelsoni gallery.
Here's an article in Terra Magazine (put out by ConserVentures) literally about Wild Sonora. Read about adventures on the rivers of eastern Sonora and see plenty of photos of the most recent trip.
"Our adventures into the river canyons of eastern Sonora began in the early 2000s after spending several years working throughout the bronco (rough) state of Sonora, México. My best friend was an avian biologist working in Sonora, and I had always been intrigued by birds, natural history, and landscape exploration."
"Our trips were driven by biological interest, deeply embedded wilderness exploration genes, and our desire to fill information gaps about the Sonoran countryside and its biota."
"The approvals included 60,000 dwelling units including single family homes, ranches, condominiums and multi-unit complexes. In addition, the overall Master Plan includes resort hotels, retail/commercial centers, golf courses, Formula One style race track, marinas and a San Antonio-styled Riverwalk.The Phase I Development Plan commences with 1000 condominiums, an 18 hole golf course, a Beach Club, a pier, a 50,000 square foot medical facility and additional commercial and retail."
This planned mega-development on the Sonoran coastline, which I wrote about many years ago, is finally getting some attention. The Tucson Weekly had a cover story on how the plan turned into a fiasco with everyone suing each other. Part fraud, part
ineptitude, this project was a pipe dream from the beginning.
The idea was to build an enormous development on beautiful, virgin coastline in the Sonoran desert near Puerto Libertad, Sonora. This area
is the middle of nowhere. If a potential client tried to actually see the place, they would likely get lost several times, feel like they might encounter cartel leaders, and decide they should play it safe and stay in Iowa.
The development would blade beautiful and untouched Sonoran Gulf Coast desert. It would have been one
of the most destructive projects for Sonoran wildlands ever conceived.
This new article by the Tucson Weekly is very good detailed account from a business perspective, but completely neglects to mention environmental issues.
According to Google the number or searches for the terms "Conservation" and "Environment" have been in a steady decline since 2004.
Does this mean people care less about these issue now than in 2004? Sadly this seems like it is probably the case. See this graph from Google below - blue=conservation, red=environment (see graph at Google here)
February 2nd and 3rd 2011 laid a heavy hand on the NJP reserve. An arctic air mass descended on southwestern North America, stretching its influence south of its typical reach. Individual species had their numbers reduced drastically. The makeup and distribution of some plant communities were altered. Rules that had governed species survival for a minimum of several decades were put on hiatus during a more than 48-hour period of early Feb. 2011.
Woody species hit the hardest on the reserve include Acacia cochliacantha, Lysiloma divaricatum, Dodonaea viscosa, Bursera fagaroides, Bursera lancifolia, Ficus petiolaris, F. insipida, F. pertusa, Ceiba acuminata, Ipomoea arborescens, and Lysiloma watsonii, among others.