Oujournalist’s Blog

The blog of a freelancing journalist in Arizona

The case for riparian protection and Pinal County Arizona November 1, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,Uncategorized,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 5:08 pm

The Gila River near Riverside in eastern Pinal county, Arizona, has water during part of the year depending on rainfall and releases from a dam. It flows along the Arizona Trail and is a wildlife corridor. Animals and birds in the area may include the western screech owl, great horned owl, ringtail, and a variety of birds, snakes, and deer. This is part of the Sonoran desert where rainfall is scarce and water has been a particular problem during 20 years of drought in the western United States and Canada. If Pinal county approves Riparian protection we hope there will be no dumping of treated effluent in washes and no building in or alteration of washes which carry water during infrequent but sometimes violent storms.

The iconic saguaro often graces the sides of washes along with less rare sightings of cottonwoods and other native trees and plants providing habitat for birds and other wildlife. Washes,  or arroyos, provide protection from runoff damaging adjacent structures and human activity. While riverbeds such as the Gila often are dry, they once were free-flowing corridors providing food and shelter for Native Americans. Turkeys and other sources of food were available to people inhabiting the area before overhunting and habitat destruction decimated the game bird.

Offroading in and near washes destroys the stream banks and homes of wildlife such as tortoises, foxes, coyotes and burrowing owls.

A report by a county consultant is awaiting distribution and reportedly will detail the effects of a possible ordinance governing riparian protection.



October 24, 2016

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,green,Pinal County,travel,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 6:25 pm

Here are my title suggestions for my National Novel Writing Month project:

Recovering Nature

Desert Desserts

Stop and Smell the Cactus Flowers

Finding Myself in Nature

Natural Pain Relief: Essays on Living in and With the Desert

Meditations on a Thorny Landscape

Get Close But Don’t Touch: Essays on the Sonoran Desert

Listen and Look, but Don’t Touch: Writing in the Desert

Finding Hope in the Southwestern United States20140302-171823.jpg


Saguaro removed October 23, 2016

Filed under: businesss,green,Pinal County,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 12:10 am

Quail chatter in an adjacent lot wondering where their eggs in hollowed-out dirt bowls  are now resting. Confused deer dash through the area as they are losing their shelter. A bulldozer pants in the background after clearing a 1-acre lot and making a pad for houses. The For Sale sign at 16th Avenue and Sixshooter Road beckons.

In Pinal County, Az., there is no protection for riparian areas or washes and landowners can remove cactus after following specific regulations. If the landowner wishes to move or sell a saguaro, the owner must apply for a permit through the Arizona Department of Agriculture. There are no restrictions forbidding the owner to knock the plant down.

However, the Pinal County Partnership’s Open Space Task Force has made a presentation to the county manager about a proposal protecting land.

A model showing the locations of riparian areas in the county in south-central Arizona is being contracted out for reviewing ordinances and studying the potential effect on landowners, said Kent Taylor, the county’s open-space manager.

The proposal won’t come before the board while the county is still in a fact finding mode, he added.

Saguaro vanishes100_1055


Porch perches  October 15, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,travel,Uncategorized,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 9:55 pm

A Western screech owl graces our Pinal County porch.


October notes on our surroundings in the Sonoran desert October 13, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,travel,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 12:04 am

Our surroundings that we are adjusting to include the pleasure of singing birds, the alertness of warning birds and the rattling of snakes. We are grateful for our cool mornings and evenings, wind and rain and the beauty of the rising and setting sun. Our place in the Sonoran desert is to leave wildlife, plants, trees and the earth alone as much as we can.

Fashioning people for our surroundings helps us revere severe conditions and dangerous temperatures and wildlife, but also to love the change of seasons when cool temperatures return and the snakes stay underground.
We have hearing, sight, smell and touch to help us protect ourselves and to appreciate our environment. Our intellect and compassion assist us in conserving soil and water and plants and trees and animals. Gratitude and learning to live with all things are our mottos.
We enjoy visiting forests and seeing the turning leaves and the different volcanic mountains in northern Arizona, and the Kaibab squirrels, scrub Jays and acorn woodpeckers have a different effect on the environment.

Today it is Wednesday, October 12 and it was about 90° and we appreciate having some cloud cover. The desert definitely has a different take on the changing of the seasons. 


August 1, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 12:28 am

ABC Animal Poem


A cardinal calls twice at daybreak

Bees are already buzzing in the creosote and mesquite

Carefully I take bird seed out to the tree branch

Dangerous rattlesnakes are about these days

Every day I refresh water dishes for birds, rabbits, squirrels and lizards

Funny cactus wrens rest in a damp dugout by the water dish attempting to keep cool

God is protecting the baby bunny I haven’s seen for several days

H is for Hawk the book I am listening to as a raptor cries

Insects swarm in the early morning sunlight

Jackrabbits drink from the front yard water dish

Killing heat of 110 wilts the cactus and animals seek shelter until dusk

Light seeps through bird wings as they cluster around a seed bar

Mice scatter at night when I venture out

Not-so-cuddly toad soaks in the water dish every night

Osprey perch on the fence looking for a meal

Peregrine scream and descend rapidly to catch their prey

Quail call noisily as they compete for seeds below the feeder

Roadrunners need water also and sip at our communal dish

Snakes such as the coachwhip travel through the yard

Tonto National Forest is a somewhat safer place for tortoises

Unusual blue-throated lizards hide on the front porch in the shade

Vultures glide over the area looking for creatures who have died in the heat

Way in the back of our property is where I deposit spiders caught in the house

Xamples of natural food for animals include cactus fruit and mesquite beans

Yahoo for the rock squirrel who finds a somewhat cool hole in the beaver tail cactus

Zebra striped house finches grace us with their voices




July 13, 2016

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,green,Pinal County,travel,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 4:31 pm

Light in the desert


6 a.m. wake up call by birds

light through their wings as they call to each other

sunbeams pass by creosote flowers

insects glide into the haze

from last night’s dust storm