The recent unfortunate incident in which a birdwatcher was injured by a bull at Patagonia Lake State Park may turn out to be the event that finally leads to an outcome that birders and environmentalists alike have sought for many years: the removal of cattle from the park. 

Joe Watkins, one of the leaders of the local group of trail-building volunteers known as the Dirtbags, recently pulled together a small advisory committee of his Dirtbag colleagues as well as representatives of birding, conservation, and environmental organizations to discuss what they could do to convince state officials to rid the park of not merely cattle, but all livestock. Working with Watkins are Bob Hernbrode, Howard Buchanan, Bob Proctor and John Hughes. 

The committee has decided a letter-writing campaign would demonstrate the widespread interest in this problem and would be difficult for the decision-makers to ignore. Watkins said, “This is a long-standing problem that locals and visitors from far and wide really care about and we are asking those who think this situation must change to join in this effort by sending individualized personal letters to the heads of the Arizona State Land Department and Arizona State Parks and Trails.” 

To assist letter writers, the group has drafted sample letters, a guide for creating letters that have the most impact and a bullet list of problems and issues that writers can select from to bolster the main points that cattle not only endanger park visitors but seriously degrade the land by compacting it, trampling, and grazing on native trees and shrubs, causing erosion and accelerating the buildup of silt in the lake. 

All documents are available on the Friends of Sonoita Creek website Sample letters include the proper names, titles and addresses for the two officials. Since many FOSC members also belong to the Dirtbags, the two groups are closely collaborating on the letter-writing campaign. They hope to enlist the active participation of other organizations and prominent individuals in their effort