Leave it to Pima County Supervisor "Sugar" Ray Carroll to remind his fellow supes that they promised to do whatever they could to protect Davidson Canyon from mining interests after they dropped a lawsuit against the Arizona State Land Department in February. And leave it to his fellow supes to disregard Sugar Ray.
Last year, the land department had approved three mining leases in the area, including one from cement manufacturer California Portland Cement. Back in February, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the supes that the mining plan could still possibly be stopped, because California Portland was having trouble getting a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, an application designating Davidson Canyon as an outstanding waterway was still making its way through the state bureaucracy, which could eventually offer protections against mining.
Now Carroll is coming to the defense of community activists still reeling from the county’s July approval of a floodplain-use permit that makes way for California Portland to build a mining road through Davidson Canyon wash.
Carroll pushed for a revocation of the permit on Tuesday, Dec. 16, allowing the supervisors one more chance to show they care about protecting Davidson Canyon—and the supes voted it down.
Members of the Empire Fagan Coalition, who are fighting to save Davidson Canyon, note that earlier this month, the state approved Davidson Canyon’s outstanding water designation, and California Portland still hasn’t received its 404 permit—something they understood was required before a floodplain-use permit could be issued. They like to point out Davidson Canyon’s importance; the area southeast of Tucson near Vail is considered a major contributor to the water aquifer in the Tucson basin.
Carroll says the outstanding water designation and the lack of a 404 permit had given him hope that the county could easily revoke the permit.