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Rare talks to avoid lawsuit may pit Fort Huachuca jobs vs. San Pedro water needs

Posted by   /  February 6, 2020  /  No Comments

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Cut down trees at the San Pedro River crossing at the US-Mexico border on Feb. 3, 2020 as border wall construction begins over the river. /Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Sturges

By Tony Davis | Arizona Daily Star

Fort Huachuca and environmentalists are willing to hold rare negotiations to avoid another lawsuit, potentially pitting the preservation of Army jobs against the San Pedro River.

The fort is offering to negotiate over its groundwater pumping. And the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, known for suing rather than negotiating, says OK — but only if the fort considers downsizing.

Army officials won’t say whether they’ll meet that condition, which could cost jobs at the Sierra Vista fort, one of Southern Arizona’s largest employers with more than 11,000 jobs.

Related: Crews cut down cottonwood trees at San Pedro River to make way for Trump’s border wall

But they are rebutting the environmentalists’ allegations that the fort’s groundwater pumping threatens survival of the San Pedro, the Southwest’s last free-flowing desert river.

The offer to discuss San Pedro issues was first extended by Fort Garrison commander Chad Rambo in a letter last week to Center for Biological Diversity activist and board member Robin Silver.

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