Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tucson Tails: Museum Here Opens Peerless Wildlife Blind To Camera Fans - Arizona Daily Star (blog)

2012-09-19T06:00:00Z Tucson Tails: Museum Here Opens Peerless Wildlife Blind To Camera FansJeff Espinosa and Thomas Stockton, Arizona Daily Star. Arizona Daily Star

Today's "tail" is of the subject of a couple of javelinas photographed behind a new bind.

--Tucson Citizen Dec 12 1953

By Byrd Stanley

Almost hidden among the cactus and palo verde not far from the main building of the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum is a tiny earth-colored structure which soon may be responsible for luring top naturalists and photographers from all over the world to Tucson.

It is a wildlife blind, and experts say there is nothing equal to it in the United States, a scientifically constructed paradise for those who want to observe and photograph desert wildlife at close range without being seen. But, to the layman, it is only a strange-looking hut on four levels with a profusion of wires and reflectors and sliding windows.

The usual photographic blind is a much smaller open square where a man can crouch and wait for animals to come by. Needless to say, such blinds never have been noted for comfort or push button controls.

The Newly constructed blind is made of concrete and celotex, and the floor and portion of the walls are covered with several thicknesses of heavy carpeting (not for luxury, but for silence). There are four swivel chairs each on a different level for different angle shots. There are camera braces and there are wooden slats which open just wide enough to give each photographer a clear view outside.

There is a central control system so that each photographer shoots at the same time and only flash goes off. Flash bulbs can be changed from inside the blind though the reflectors are outside.

Because the metallic click of a shutter opening can “spook” an animal even more than a cough or sneeze, Marvin Frost, official museum photographer, has invented a lever to hold the lens open until the lead man signals for the others to shoot.

At all times tiny bulbs of only 10 or 15 watts glow outside the blind to accustom the animals to the light.

This unique blind was designed and built by Lewis Wayne Walker, assisted by Marvin Frost and William Car, museum director. Walker, a noted natural history specialist and research associate of the Desert museum, is associated with the San Diego zoo, Scripps institute and the American Museum of Natural History. He is one of the nation’s top nature writers and photographers, widely known for his contributions to the National Geographic and other magazines.

Walker said he did not know of an natural history organization which operated a wildlife blind of this type, though there is a large blind on stilts in South Africa where as many as 25 persons a night pay a substantial fee to watch jungle animals which have been drawn by the scent of meant (usually a dead zebra). Spectators enter the blind at sunset, cannot leave until dawn.

Desert wildlife comes to the local blind for both water and food. Water was piped to form a tiny pool in a rocky gully only a few feet from the blind, and in the dry desert this is an inducement which animals learn about quickly. Meat is placed beside the water daily, along with suet and a small trough of barley. Later in the winter there will also be blocks of salt.

The wild visitors have included deer, skunks, javelinas, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, badgers and numerous species of birds. Bobcat and coyote tracks have been seen at the waterhole, but these animals have not yet been photographed from the blind. Most of the animals come in the early morning or at night, but this week a herd of some 10 javelinas arrived at noon.

Already several naturalists and wildlife photographers have used he blind, and Carr hopes in the future to work out some system of appointments so that it will be available to anyone interested.

As an example of how experts feel about the innovations, Roger Torrey Peterson, America’s leading bird artist, came to the museum to spend one afternoon last week. When he discovered the blind and was offered the use of it, he spent four day sand nights, and is planning to return again.

Rains bring on bumper crop of mushrooms, but wise just to admire 'em - Arizona Daily Star

2012-09-19T00:00:00Z 2012-09-18T21:56:47Z Rains bring on bumper crop of mushrooms, but wise just to admire 'emDoug Kreutz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Drenching monsoon rains have brought a bumper crop of mushrooms to mountain forests around Tucson - a boon for fungi fanciers but a poison peril for anyone who bites into a toxic species.

"It's an unusually good year for mushrooms, and the reason is moisture," said Chester Leathers, president of the Arizona Mushroom Club.

"That's the basic secret to mushrooms' success - plenty of moisture. This year the monsoon rains came and stayed, so we're seeing lots of mushrooms," said Leathers, who is a mycologist, or fungi specialist, and professor emeritus at Arizona State University.

Many forested areas of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson are festooned with fungi this month - including mushrooms in assorted hues and sizes ranging from a small fingernail to a large fist.


Some wild mushrooms are edible, but many of the species are poisonous, Leathers warned.

"Eating toxic mushrooms can kill a person," he said, emphasizing that no one should eat a wild mushroom without being certain of its safety based on personal knowledge or advice from a mushroom expert.

"When in doubt, throw it out," Leathers said.

Some people have not followed that advice.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center has handled 41 cases of ingestion of mushrooms this year - with 17 of those cases reported in August and seven so far in September.

"It was the busiest August (in terms of cases) since 2006," said Keith Boesen, director of the center.

Boesen said some of the reported cases of ingestion resulted in no symptoms - but others have brought about varying reactions.

"Mostly this year, it's been mainly mild symptoms such as feelings of nausea or vomiting," said Boesen, noting that there have been no fatal cases.

Toxic mushrooms in Arizona mountains include a red-capped mushroom known as the fly amanita, Leathers said.

"It is the most beautiful thing - almost a crimson or scarlet red with white scales over the cap," he said. "It's very poisonous."

Other poisonous species include the green-gilled parasol, he said.

Among the edible mushrooms is Caesar's amanita, which has a golden color.

About 25 percent or more of mushroom species contain toxins, Leathers estimated.

"Since the toxicity of all mushrooms is not known, I play it safe and say probably 15 percent of all the known mushrooms are edible - and the rest are unknown (as to toxicity) or definitely toxic," Leathers said.


About 500 species of wild mushrooms grow in Southern Arizona.

Source: Chester Leathers, president of the Arizona Mushroom Club

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tucson Fish and Game office offering books for $1 - Arizona Daily Star (blog)

2012-09-18T11:00:00Z Tucson Fish and Game office offering books for $1Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, which has an office at 555 N. Greasewood Road, is offering four of its most popular books this week for only $1 apiece.

“Dollar Days” runs during regular office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The books usually range in price from $5-$8.

The office is between West Speedway and West St. Mary’s, across from the Pima Community College West Campus.

Here are the book titles and descriptions provided by the Game and Fish Department.

• “Arizona Fishin’ Holes.” The 2010 edition is a “glovebox-ready” guide to the state’s best fishing. Find out which fish swim where, and learn about amenities such as boat ramps and campgrounds at fishing holes from Yuma to the White Mountains. This 54-page booklet includes GPS coordinates for each lake and up-to-date resource telephone numbers and Internet addresses to deliver the latest fishing information.

• “All Things Edible.” After a good day at the lake or in the field, it’s time to turn that fish or game into a tasty meal. Turn to “All Things Edible,” a collection of recipes featuring wild-caught fare.

• “Arizona Wildlife Views Special Edition.” This 155-page collection of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine’s special editions explores the natural history of the state’s birds, reptiles, amphibians, bats and game species. This edition sold out Monday but the Greasewood office was expecting a shipment of them today.

• “Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County.” This illustrated guide to the 82 species of amphibians and reptiles found in Maricopa County is a collaborative effort between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona State University. The 68-page book is a practical tool both for frequent wildlife watchers and for county residents who encounter snakes and lizards once in a while.

For more information call the local office at 628-5376.

Slain BP Agent Terry honored for bravery - Arizona Daily Star

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber presented a posthumous congressional medal to murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry Monday night as more than 200 people gathered in Tucson to support a foundation in Terry's name.

Logan Willis, Terry's nephew, spontaneously held the medal, the Congressional Badge of Bravery, up high in the climax of an event attended by four members of Congress. The event was the first fundraiser for the Brian Terry Foundation, a foundation set up to help the families of injured or killed Border Patrol agents, provide scholarships and honor Terry's memory.

"This is not only a healing process for the family, but I think it's important for the community and the country," Terry's cousin, Robert Heyer, told the gathering at the JW Marriott Starr Pass.

Today, the Border Patrol station at Naco will be renamed in Terry's honor.

The events come in an important week for the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious. That's the controversial investigation, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under which suspected gun traffickers were able to buy close to 2,000 guns, many of which were taken across the border to Mexico. Two of the guns sold to a defendant in that operation were left at the scene of Terry's killing Dec. 14, 2010, by suspected border bandits in the desert near Rio Rico.

U.S. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said at the fundraiser that he expects the Justice Department Office of Inspector General to publish on Wednesday morning its report on the investigation. While the investigation is likely to focus on misdeeds in the ATF's Phoenix office, which originated the investigation, it may also give insight into who approved of or ignored the operation higher up the chain of command in the Justice Department, Issa said.

Those are among the key questions that remain outstanding for Terry's family, his mother and sister said in an interview with the Star earlier Monday.

"I just hope it's good news," Brian Terry's mother, Josephine, said. "Maybe we can find out who's responsible, who's accountable.

"I would like to have them tell me why this was put in place, who's responsible, and why doesn't somebody who is responsible own up to it. If they did, I think all this other stuff would go away," she said.

In an interview with the Star, Josephine Terry said she follows the news closely every day looking for information about Operation Fast and Furious. "I get up in the morning, and I watch Fox News," she said. "I watch from the time I get up till the time I go to bed."

Fox News reporter William La Jeunesse, who continues to cover Operation Fast and Furious, was the emcee of the event.

Arizona Congressmen David Schweikert and Paul Gosar also attended.

Issa and Barber agreed in their speeches that Terry's death ought not to be a partisan issue, though the debate over Operation Fast and Furious has taken on a partisan tone at times.

"Standing up for the men and women of the Border Patrol should not be a partisan issue," Barber said.

On StarNet: Family members of Brian Terry speak out. See video at

Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or

389 Miles: Living on the Border - Explorer News

St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church, West Gallery

Fee:  No charge

 Border and Immigration Ministries at St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church presents a film screening that offers an opportunity for learning, reflection, and dialogue about the complexities of border issues. On Sunday, September 30, at 10:15 a.m. in the West Gallery, the award-winning film “389 Miles: Living on the Border” will be shown.

 “389 Miles: Living the Border” beautifully illustrates life and culture on both sides of the Border from New Mexico to California. It stars the desert, the terrain, the impoverished immigrants, the Border Patrol, coyotes, the macquiadoras, ranchers, and citizens on both sides of the border. They all speak for themselves in this sympathetically directed film. LuisCarlos Davis, the film's director and producer, will be present and will discuss the film with us at the conclusion of the viewing. Viewing time for this film is 60 minutes. We’ll start promptly at 10:15 a.m.

 The film began as the Master’s thesis for LuisCarlos with Professor Jennifer Jenkins in her class on Mexican cinema at the University of Arizona. LuisCarlos is an award-winning film director and producer, who was named by the Arizona Daily Star as the “40 Under 40 Man of the Year” for 2010. He has been recognized by Arizona Public Television. Davis was raised on both sides of the border, in Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona. We look forward to welcoming him to lead discussion with us.

 There is no charge for this viewing.

 Further forums addressing border and immigration issues will be held on Sunday, October 14, and Sunday, October 28. On October 14, Jane Prescott-Smith, Managing Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, will share insights from “Faith, Politics and Our Better Angels,” a gathering of 21 national religious leaders convened by the Institute of Faith & Politics this summer. Guidelines for civil discourse will be presented and practiced. On October 28, Arthur Bassett and Chris Blue from the UA College of Public Health and College of Architecture, will explore the relationship between sustainable systems, migration, and public health through community-based collaborations in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. In a summer 2012 study, they investigated the root causes of migration by comparing the U.S./Mexico and Guatemala/Mexico borders. Their summer project also involved a service component in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.

 All forums are free and open to the public.

 St. Philip’s is located at 4440 N. Campbell Avenue at River Road, Tucson. Ample parking is available in the north parking lot or under our new solar parking structure on the east side. The office phone number is 299-6421.


389 Miles: Living on the Border is a free event.


Street Smarts: Wetmores had deep roots in north-side area - Arizona Daily Star

2012-09-18T00:00:00Z 2012-09-17T21:24:38Z Street Smarts: Wetmores had deep roots in north-side areaDavid Leighton Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Wetmore family arrived in Tucson well before statehood and left its mark on local education, entertainment and shopping.

How involved were the Wetmores in early Tucson? The road that bears their name is one they graded themselves with a team of horses.

Edward L. Wetmore Sr. was Tucson's first meteorologist. He arrived in Tucson in 1878 from San Francisco and tracked weather for the government until his death in 1912.

He also established the first school in what is now the Amphitheater Public Schools district.

His son, Edward Wetmore Jr., was born in 1883 in an adobe house in Plaza de Armas Park, where Tucson City Hall now sits. He was one of the first students to enter the school. He farmed and was in the cattle and dairy business.

His farm was part of his father's land, homesteaded in 1880 near the site of the former Wetmore Pool, a bit west of the current Walmart at 455 E. Wetmore Road.

In 1887, the homestead was attacked by an Apache raiding party and defended by two military companies from Fort Lowell.

After World War I, Edward Jr., along with his brother Ralph's wife, Helen, opened an amusement park with a pool, roller skating rink and outdoor dance floor. In 1919, he began to show the first outdoor motion pictures in Tucson and possibly the Southwest.

In 1922, he added a dance pavilion that was said to be the biggest in the Southwest and drew big names like the "King of Jazz" Paul Whiteman and others.

Later that decade, Edward Jr. and Ralph graded Wetmore Road with a team of horses and lined it with shade trees and rosebushes, then turned it over to Pima County.

Helen Wetmore came up with the idea for Tucson Mall. On a trip to Chicago in the 1930s, she saw a shopping center on the Skokie Highway and thought, "That's what I am going to have on my land," the Tucson Citizen reported decades later. She kept the parcel together until 1978, when plans for the Tucson Mall began with Forest City Enterprises.

Occasionally she visited her former homestead using a wheelchair to navigate the huge mall.

There have been two Wetmore roads in Tucson's history. The original Wetmore Road is now Limberlost Drive, and the current one, built by Edward and Ralph Wetmore, is the one that borders the Tucson Mall.

After Dorothy Wetmore, the daughter of Ralph and Helen, married Harry Neffson, the road just south of the mall became Neffson Drive.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at

Special thanks to Joe Dreyfuss of KVOI 1030 AM. Sources: Interview with Dorothy Wetmore Neffson and Diane Neffson (daughter and granddaughter of Ralph and Helen Wetmore). Vicki Thompson and Sue Barnhizer-Anderson, "Across the Dry Rillito," Territorial Publishers, 1986. "Ralph A. Wetmore, 78, Dies At Tucson Home," Arizona Daily Star, May 5, 1963. Judy Carlock, "Helen Wetmore called a doer," Tucson Citizen, Dec. 1, 1995. Bonnie Henry, "Helen Wetmore dies; foresaw Tucson Mall," Arizona Daily star, Nov. 30, 1995. Unknown Author, "E.L. Wetmore Dies, Pioneer of Old Pueblo," Arizona Daily Star, May 30, 1954.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New York Times Profiles TUSD's Attempt To Rebuild Trust With Hispanic Students - Tucson Weekly

The New York Times popped in this weekend to give a national focus on the Tucson Unified School District's attempts to rebuild and refocus the resources that were scattered about when it dropped the Mexican-American studies program last year.

From the New York Times:

Meanwhile, at the district’s central offices, Maria Figueroa was busy sifting through résumés and rearranging her calendar to squeeze in one more interview. As the director of a new program intended to help the district’s perennially struggling Hispanic students, by far the majority of the enrollment, Ms. Figueroa enjoys a rare distinction: she has jobs to fill and money to hire.

She also has a big task â€" mending the fences broken by the dismantling of the Mexican-American studies department last school year after an acrimonious debate over the politics of its curriculum and the type of activism it had promoted. A 2010 law banning lessons that fostered racial resentment and solidarity among members of a single ethnic group, drafted as legislators worked to frame the state’s controversial immigration bill, eventually killed the program. Facing persistent financial problems, the school district buckled under the threat of millions of dollars in fines.

Instead of classes about historical realities and the everyday experiences of Mexican-Americans, once a hallmark of the department, Ms. Figueroa’s program will offer tutoring to Hispanic students who are teetering on the edge of failure. In place of discussions about race and identity, it will recruit mentors from among Hispanic business leaders and college graduates to talk to students.

The overarching goal is as basic as it is fundamental. “We’re going to teach the kids that they need to stay in school, that school is important,” Ms. Figueroa said.

When looking at the story, one can't help but feel that TUSD has put itself (and Figueroa) into an unenviable position of trying to repair something that wasn't broken until they took a hammer to it, if only because of this passage:

About 800 students were enrolled in the Mexican-American studies department at last count, district officials said. They outperformed their peers on Arizona’s state standardized tests in reading (by 45 percentage points), writing (by 59 percentage points) and math (by 33 percentage points). If it is improving achievement the district was looking for, its proponents have argued, the department should have been expanded.

For the rest of the story, head to the New York Times.