HIKE PLANNED FOR AREA OF SOUTH MOUNTAIN THREATENED BY LOOP 202-No South Mountain Freeway Group and members of Gila River to lead prayer and hike on mountain.
PHOENIX, AZ—Sunday April 21st, 4pm at the base of South Mountain on the east side of Estrella drive and 51st/4 ave. Join other freeway resistors as we come together to see parts of the South Mountain Range at risk to the expansion of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has proposed three, 20-stories-high, 200 yard-wide cuts into this Mountain Range, which is sacred to all O’odham Tribes. The off-reservation route (north of the “on reservation alignment”) would also destroy nearly 100 Homes, and an Ahwatukee church that sits at the base of the mountain.
We will be meeting at the trailhead off of 51st ave. (more immediately beside 43rd ave.) and Estrella Drive near the base of South Mountain. Before the Hike O’odham Elder Mike Tashquinth will speak to attendees about the significance of the mountain to his tribe. And why it is both crucial and urgent that we stop the Loop 202 from expanding.
The area we are planning to hike is located North of the Gila River Indian community. It is part of ADOT’s off reservation proposed route of the Loop 202 extension. We will be hiking to a vantage point from which both the areas of the Gila River Indian Community, Laveen and Phoenix can be seen at the same time.
The No South Mountain Freeway group supports the Gila River Indian Communities continued “No Build” stance. Both proposals are within miles of each other and both would negatively impose on not only the immediate communities in which they are proposed for yet they would infringe on the quality of living for the entire valley.
Coming eye-to-eye with this threatened area is essential to understanding what exactly is at stake with the current freeway proposals. Gila River and the Critical Wildlife Corridor that exists between the Estrella and South Mountain ranges is home to numerous species whose habitat would be significantly compromised if the freeway were to be expanded:
-The Spikedace and Loach Minnow, federally threatened species.
-The Gila Topminnow and the Desert Pupfish, two federally endangered species
-36 fish species historically native to Arizona, 21 of which are listed as threatened or endangered. One species has already gone extinct.
-The riverine areas are also home to Mountain Lions, the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl and the common Chuckwalla, which has been determined “threatened” and its existence is considered sensitive.
While recalling her recent trip to this point on South Mountain Erika Machuca had this to share, “Being at the most western point on the South Mountain range, the view of many of the valley’s peaks are clearly visible. It is an incredibly serene place and I want others to share this tranquil place and experience.”
For photos and a report about the area, you can view this recent post from our blog:
Please consider joining us as we bear witness to this threatened sacred place and discuss the necessary steps to help protect it!