Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from June 28-30

Jun 30, 2019, 6:06 PM
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

A new crew is taking over the last of the Woodbury Fire, a conservation group wants to bring grizzly bears to Arizona and Yuma opened a facility for detained migrants. 

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.

Conservation group proposes bringing grizzly bears back into Arizona

An Arizona conservation group wants the federal government to consider reintroducing grizzly bears into the state.

The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in Montana’s U.S. District Court on Thursday accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to update the federal recovery plan for grizzly bears, which was last revised in 1993.

Fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears remain in the lower 48 states, where they can be found in Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Idaho, according to the center.

The lawsuit says the agency should evaluate the possibility of reintroducing grizzlies into their historic habitat in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and southern Washington.

Temporary facility for detained migrants to open in Yuma

Two weeks after construction began, a temporary facility in an Arizona border town to house detained immigrants opened Friday.

Families will be placed at the tent set-up in Yuma beginning in the evening, border officials said.

The migrants’ processing facility shares the site with the Yuma border patrol station. As people are brought in, they will be screened for medical issues and fingerprinted.

“At the same, we’re already feeding them water, food and anything they need,” Deputy Border Patrol Agent Humberto Guerra of the Yuma station told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

“After that, we try to give them showers if possible, laundry if they need it, clothing if they need it, and all the supplies they might to take care of families and young kids.”

The facility, which can house 500 people and has a cooling system, is part of a $15 million contract between the federal government and a private company. It will be open through the end of September with the option to extend the contract for a month at a time.

“We’ve seen a 381% increase compared to the same time last year,” U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jose Garibay of the Yuma Sector told KTAR News on Thursday.

He said last year the number was 8,700; this year it’s a little over 42,000.

Nearly 11,000 families and 6,000 unaccompanied kids have crossed the Yuma sector since October, making it the third-busiest area in the Southwest.

8 dogs adopted from Mesa shelter, avoid being euthanized

Eight dogs who needed to be adopted from a Mesa shelter by the end of Thursday all have new homes.

The Maricopa County Animal Care and Control East Valley shelter said the dogs were required to be adopted by 7 p.m. to avoid infecting other dogs or they would be euthanized.

Jose Santiago, a spokesman for the rescue at 2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Mesa, said 11 dogs tested positive for the distemper virus.

He added that only two of the 11 dogs showed outward signs of the virus, but they were still a threat to other dogs at the shelter because it is an airborne illness.

“These 11 dogs need to get out of the shelter as soon as possible. They need to be getting out either through a foster system, or better yet, by adoption,” Santiago told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The shelter, currently holding about 170 dogs, has been under quarantine since June 6 due to the distemper outbreak. Santiago said they have already had to euthanize 55 dogs since June 1.

New team to take over remaining work on Woodbury Fire; 80% contained

As firefighters gained more control of the Woodbury Fire, management of the forest blaze near Phoenix changed hands heading into the weekend.

The Type 1 management team handed over operations of the 123,825-acre wildfire to a Type 3 group on early Friday.

The fifth-largest fire in state history jumped to 80% contained, according to a Sunday evening update.

A Thursday morning update had the fire 53% contained.

“The smoke people are seeing is inside the perimeter,” Southwest Incident Management Team spokeswoman Judith Dyess told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“It’s not growing a whole lot,” she said.

More personnel have been pulled off duty – 503 were left to handle suppression work, down from 930 earlier this week.

Crews nearly doubled containment at Tonto National Forest between late Sunday, June 23 and early Monday, June 24, from 25% to 48%.

Sky Harbor moves to desert landscaping to save money, water

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently completed a desert landscaping project that will save an abundance in manpower and resources.

The airport replaced its green grass turf with native desert landscaping, a conservation effort Sky Harbor said will result annually in $400,000 less spent in labor and 5.4 millions of gallons of water saved.

Sky Harbor said it used about 30 million gallons of water per month before the switch.

The changes with the desert landscape include 435 new low-water-use trees, 75 saguaro cactuses, 275 large signature cactuses and 2,900 shrubs for added ground cover.

The airport also added 1.7 miles of rock-filled gabion baskets, which are typically used near slopes and banks to combat water erosion, where turf used to grow.

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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from June 28-30