Recently a Mt. Graham project supporter wrote in Arizona's newspapers that the telescopes were harmless since they use only 8.6 acres of the 1,750 acre squirrel refugium. This is like saying let us destroy Arizona's farmland since there are lots of deserts and mountains left to live in. We can then eat cactus blossoms.
8.6 acres is only the project footprint. Government biologists said the telescopes Congress authorized would permanently eliminate through edge-effect destruction 125 acres or 25% of the 472 acres of the squirrel's "best" habitat- critical to its long-term survival. That's why UA spent millions lobbying and litigating to circumvent U.S. environmental law.
Red squirrels often move to forests below Graham's tiny 10,000 ft. summit spruce-fir forest. The cooler spruce habitat at Graham's summit is critical for the squirrel's "refrigerated" underground cone storage, and for adding food diversity during drought. Since glacial recession 11,000 years ago, red squirrels have become extinct on Arizona island mountains lacking spruce-fir. They disappear from these lower areas during drought. Trapped on lower altitude mountain prisons like the Chiricahuas, they lack the spruce-fir "cool storage" and become extinct.
It is this greatly restricted 472-acre "cool storage" habitat, so vital to the squirrel's survival, which UA now destroys. The reference to 1,750 acres of habitat on Graham is nothing more than misleading UA propaganda.
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