Local Nonprofit is Only Arizona Nominee in National Contest

Watershed Management GroupTucson’s Watershed Management Group (WMG) is Arizona’s nominee in the Tom’s of Maine “50 States for Good” contest. One non-profit per state was nominated for the contest, and 15 winners will receive $10,000 for the program of their choice. WMG would use the funds to develop green job training programs in Tucson.

You can help bring green jobs to Tucson by voting for WMG once a day, between now and October 16. Visit www.tomsofmaine.com and click on the “50 States for Good” program to vote.

Mayor’s 10,000 Tree Campaign

mayor's-tree-challenge-badge-197x197If you’ve ever angled for a shaded parking spot, chosen to walk on the shady side of the street, or taken your kids to the park, you know how important trees are in our desert city.  Tucson’s most popular business districts, most attractive streets, and most-loved parks all have one thing in common: an abundance of trees.  Trees provide shade and curb appeal, all while cleaning our air and cooling our homes and neighborhoods.

Despite all of these benefits, Tucson is still losing trees faster than we replace them.  Many portions of our community have little tree canopy.  To help reverse this trend, Mayor Rothschild is joining partners in the community to lead a challenge to plant 10,000 trees in Tucson – at homes, businesses, and on public property -by the end of 2014. For more information, click this link. Otherwise, get started now and track the trees you plant toward our goal here!

Tucson Unveils New CNG Collection Trucks

The City of Tucson's Environmental Services Department plans to convert all of its collection trucks to CNG within the next five years.

The City of Tucson’s Environmental Services Department plans to convert all of its collection trucks to CNG within the next five years.

The City of Tucson’s Environmental Services Department recently unveiled its first trash and recycling collection trucks powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), with a two-part goal of saving money and reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

“Not only is CNG cheaper than other fossil fuels, its price is more stable. In addition, CNG-powered vehicles have lower maintenance costs than other fueled vehicles,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “Transitioning the ES fleet to CNG over the next several years will help create jobs and build our CNG infrastructure, bringing investment to our region.”

The 14 new vehicles begin the eventual conversion of the entire fleet, which currently numbers almost 100 vehicles, said Environmental Services Director Andrew Quigley.  That conversion should take about five years to complete, he said.

Tucson Bikeways Map Now Available

tucson bikeways map coverThe Tucson Bikeways Map shows low-stress streets, greenways, intersections with push-button signals, bike shops and more.  You can find the map (which folds into the size of a credit card) at many locations, including libraries, bike shops, the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and the Mayor’s Office.  You also can download the map.

Tucson is known for its friendliness to bicyclists, recently ranking in two national top ten lists in that category.

The Travel Channel ranks Tucson sixth in its Top 10 Cycling Cities in the U.S. list, while the fitness website WalkScore.com gave the city a number eight ranking in its Top 10 Most Bikeable Large U.S. Cities category.  You can read more about those surveys here.

Tucson to Capture Stormwater for Irrigation of Roadway Vegetation

This curb cut diverts stormwater to a streetside planting basin. Photo: Watershed Management Group

This curb cut diverts stormwater to a streetside planting basin. Photo: Watershed Management Group

The Mayor and  Tucson City Council voted unanimously May 29 to adopt a Green Streets policy to direct the Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) to use stormwater runoff to irrigate trees and other vegetation in medians and roadsides.

The Mayor’s Office has been working with the nonprofit Watershed Management Group, TDOT and a group of business and community stakeholders to draft the policy, which requires new and reconstructed city streets to include features such as curb cuts that allow stormwater to flow in and irrigate an area.

“Everybody who has lived in Tucson during the monsoon has seen water running down the street in a storm. That’s a wasted resource,” said Mayor Rothschild. “And when the weather’s hot, we all prefer to walk on the side of the street that has shade, usually from buildings. If Tucson had the number of trees we should, both sides of the street would have shade. This policy will let us have and maintain healthy trees and shade in front of our homes and businesses, without the cost of pumping groundwater for irrigation.”

In addition to directing stormwater to specific areas, the policy also calls for planted areas along streets to be covered by a 25 percent tree canopy.  After becoming established, those specially-selected trees would use only harvested stormwater to survive.

The new policy is expected to save the city money on irrigation, while adding trees that provide cooling shade, improve air quality and make streets more attractive. This policy has been a priority for Mayor Rothschild, who included it in his 360 Plan.

Read the entire Green Streets policy.

Fire Station #22 Recognized for LEED Building

Fire Station 22

Fire Station #22 is Tucson’s first LEED® project.

The City of Tucson’s first LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) project, Fire Station #22, currently is featured as a model on the U.S. Green Building Council – Arizona Chapter’s website.

LEED is a national “green” building certification that is the benchmark for design, construction and operations of high-performance green buildings.

Fire Station #22, located at 6810 South Alvernon Way, was designed in 2005 and construction was finished in August 2007.  It earned the LEED Gold certification in June 2008.

The fire station features sustainable design strategies in water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental air quality.

Fire Station 22 at night

Fire Station #22 apparatus bays at night

Fire Station #22 is the first building owned by the City of Tucson to go through LEED certification, since the city mandated all new construction must meet at least the LEED Silver standard.

Last October, Tucson received an award for the “Most Combined LEED Certifications,” at the first annual USGBC Arizona “Heavy Medals” Awards  ceremony.

In addition to Fire Station #22, The City of Tucson’s LEED-certified buildings include the Martin Luther King Apartments, Reid Park Zoo Conservation Learning Center, Sun Tran Bus Maintenance Storage Facility, Fire Central, Tucson Water Eastside Satellite Facility and the Crime Laboratory.

As of late 2012, more than 300 LEED-certified buildings had been constructed in Arizona.

Tucson Wins National Mayor’s Water Challenge

National Mayor's Challenge for Water ConservationThe City of Tucson earned the top spot for residents of similar-sized cities pledging to save water, as part of the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, sponsored by the Wyland Foundation.

Tucsonans last month pledged to save nearly 39 million gallons of water, amounting to more than $1.6 million.  They also promised to reduce landfill waste by more than 959,000 pounds.

“I am extremely proud of our city for the way Tucsonans stepped up and pledged to do what we already do better than most cities, which is to conserve our natural resources,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

As a prize in the national challenge, Rain Bird – with operations in Tucson – is donating water-efficient irrigation equipment for Toumey Park in midtown Tucson.

“Keep an eye on the park in the months ahead and I’m sure you’ll see it a little bit greener, ” said Alex Nathanson, corporate marketing brand manager for Rain Bird.

Tucsonans who pledged to save water also are entered into a drawing later this month for a home sprinkler system.

Tucson Has Most Top-Rated Environmental Nonprofits in Arizona

Rainwater harvesting in Tucson

Rainwater harvesting in Tucson

The City of Tucson had the greatest number of top-rated environmental nonprofits in Arizona in 2012, based on user reviews at the website GreatNonprofits.org.

The California-based website says volunteers and donors reviewed 58,000 nonprofits nationwide and four of the 81 top-rated organizations are based in Tucson.

“Tucsonans are passionate about protecting our desert environment,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “Environmentalism and conservation are core values of our people and our city. Congratulations to the award winners: Watershed Management Group, Northern Jaguar Project, Friends of Saguaro National Park and the Center for Biological Diversity.”

Watershed Management Group(WMG) volunteers creating a rainwater harvesting project at The City of Tucson's Ward 1 Office. (Photo: WMG)

Watershed Management Group (WMG) volunteers creating a rainwater harvesting project at The City of Tucson’s Ward 1 Office. (Photo: WMG)


Watershed Management Group provides residents and community groups with the necessary skills to manage their natural resources.  The Northern Jaguar Project works to preserve and recover the world’s northernmost population of the jaguar and its natural habitats.   Friends of Saguaro National Park aims to ensure preservation and protection of the fragile Sonoran Desert at Saguaro National Park.  The Center for Biological Diversity works to help protect species hovering on the edge of extinction.

GreatNonprofits timed the release of its 2012 report to coincide with Earth Day 2013.  Reviews for next year’s list are due by Oct. 31.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements Coming to Tucson

Photo: Stacey Halper

Photo: Stacey Halper

The City of Tucson is known nationally for being a great community for bicycling and continues to invest in in facilities and programs for bicyclists and pedestrians.  Tucson recently secured more than $4.5 million from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and more than $1 million in federal transportation funds for projects that increase safety, recreation and commuting options for bicyclists and pedestrians across the city.

Specifically, the funds will go toward:

  • Four HAWK crossings that allow pedestrians to safely cross busy arterial streets

    HAWK crosswalk (Photo: Stacey Halper)

    HAWK crosswalk (Photo: Stacey Halper)

  • Three bike boulevards –low volume, low stress neighborhood streets optimized for bicycling
  • The Arroyo Chico Greenway, a multi-use path that connects Reid Park with downtown (part of Tucson’s Urban Greenways system)
  • A portion of the Loop on Tucson’s east side, a pedestrian and bike beltway that encircles the city and links to other communities (this project is administered by Pima County)
  • Tucson’s Safe Routes to School program, which helps kids get safely by foot and bike to and from school
  • Safety improvements on city streets in the University of Arizona used by thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians every day
  • A plan to improve handicapped and pedestrian access throughout the entire city

For more information, visit the City of Tucson’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.



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