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Southwest Environment Service records, 1975-1988

MS 269

Collection Summary

Creator: Southwest Environmental Service
Collection Name:Southwest Environment Service records,
Inclusive Dates: 1975-1988
Physical Description:5.8 linear feet
Abstract:The records contain a comprehensive view of one of the most important environmental advocacy groups in Arizona from 1974 until 1988.
Collection Number: MS 269
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Historical Note

Southwest Environmental Service (SES) was a non-profit organization working for the protection of the environment, including air quality, water quality, and land planning. It was incorporated on 4 November 1974, and funded by the Wilson Foundation to "help the public share in finding solutions to environmental problems." In 1984, it became a "public charity" and was now eligible to devote 20% of its resources to lobbying.

Through public education, mailings, lobbying, workshops, publications, and legal actions, the SES worked with public and government agencies to maximize its goals of a more desirable environment for Arizona and of citizen input into governmental processes. Major projects in which the SES was involved included the establishment of Catalina State Park (1975-1981), Aviation Corridor Highway (1985), groundwater and wastewater regulations (1976-1983), and smelter advocacy (1979-1987).

SES's first director was David Hoyt. Priscilla Robinson became the second director on 1 April 1975, and continued in that position until the agency closed in March 1988. The records of SES were culled by Ms. Robinson and donated to the University of Arizona Library. Original folder headings were retained in the inventory where possible.

Scope and Content Note

The records contain a comprehensive view of one of the most important environmental advocacy groups in Arizona from 1974 until 1988. The director's monthly reports and correspondence document the interests and direction of the agency, its' position on issues in Arizona, its' relationship to other state and national environmental groups, and to a lesser extent, public reaction to its proposals and activities. The correspondence and testimonies provide insight into the daily communications between SES and public officials and private citizens. As a speaker for concerned citizens, SES provided an alternative viewpoint on the environmental impact and assessment of issues involving land-use planning, water and air quality, and pollution from industrial sources.

The publications of SES in this collection contain a representative sample of the flyers, brochures, and updates prepared and distributed by the staff. Substantial reports, often prepared as a final product of a grant, are present; selected titles include Water Workshops Workbook, 1977; Water Resources of the Tortolita Area, 1977; Blue Skies: An Arizonan's Guide to Clean Air, 1980; Flood and Erosion Hazards in Tucson, 1980; and a draft of Chemicals Used in the Mining Process: Their Potential Threats to Ground Water, 1984.

Three photographs portray Priscillia Robinson at work on the Governor's Water Quality Task Force, at the signing of the Environmental Quality Act of 1986 by Governor Bruce Babbitt, and with fellow activists Dick Kamp and Bob Yuhnke.

The bulk of the records relate to short-term workshops given by SES and in-depth projects of local and state concern, especially advocacy directed at protecting the people and resources of Arizona and the West from air and water pollution by land development and copper smelting. One of their earliest projects concerned the establishment and stewardship of the Catalina State Park, located on the northwestern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson. Working with local groups like the Catalina State Park Coalition, county supervisors, legislators, and developers, SES helped secure the lands for the park from the possibility of subdivision and development. After years of negotiations, state budgetary uncertainties, and a series of complicated land exchanges and lease agreements with Pima County and Arizona State Parks the park was finally dedicated on May 25, 1983. Extensive clippings and printed materials highlight the history of the creation of the park.

Together with the Southern Arizona Environmental Council, and funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of Education, SES offered workshops to facilitate discussions and to increase public understanding of the Tortolita Mountain Area and Pima County Planning Department's proposed land-use plan for that over 200 square mile area located northwest of Tucson. These files contain correspondence, reports, and printed materials relative to the planning, contents, and results of meetings held in October 1975 to project the future of a rapidly growing area of a sunbelt city.

In June 1976, SES received a grant from the U.S. Office of Education to conduct a series of public workshops in 1977 on Tucson's water supply. SES contracted to gather demographic information on participants, to evaluate the effectiveness of process-oriented methods used, and to manage a follow-up survey after the workshops were completed. A final report contains survey, description, and analysis of the grant. The Water Workshops Workbook used in the meetings is present in the Publications series.

There are several folders on the Sabino Creek issue which required Pima County to bring its' Mt. Lemon Wastewater Treatment Plant into compliance with federal regulations. Represented by David S. Baron of Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, SES initiated a lawsuit to force the county to abide by standards established for the treatment of existing and prospective wastes which were targeted for discharge into the creek. This case was one of several in this collection in which SES and Center for Law in the Public Interest worked together in common cause.

To encourage citizen participation in the planning process for state implementation plans for the federal Clean Air Act, SES, in conjunction with several other interested groups, presented a Clean Air Workshop in 1978. Sponsored by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant, the workshop provided overviews of the existing laws, presentations on selected areas of interest by experts, and meetings of action planning groups. A publication, Blue Skies, is present in the Publication series.

Another significant issue in these records is the water quality legislation which resulted in the landmark Environmental Quality Act, signed into law by Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt in 1986. Ms. Robinson was a contributing member of the Water Quality Task Force, a panel appointed by the governor to resolve conflicting opinions on the bill as it was being drafted. The act, heralded as a model for protecting water resources in the West, appointed agencies to protect surface and ground water supplies, set provisions for enforcing the statutes, established a Superfund to clean up hazardous waste sites, and changed the system of regulating pesticide use in Arizona.

In 1980 and 1981, SES presented another community information program to help citizens examine local flood plain management policies. Consisting of a published sourcebook, five workshops, audiovisual presentations, and other outreach methods, this project raised local awareness of flood and erosion hazards in southern Arizona. A final report to the sponsoring agency, National Science Foundation, provided written and visual summations of the grant. A final draft of Barbara Tellman's Flood and Erosion Hazards in Tucson are is in the Publication series.

The remainder of the records relate to the most important issues addressed by SES - copper industry in Arizona and Mexico, smelter advocacy, and related air quality and acid rain concerns. SES was actively involved in monitoring the non-ferrous smelter orders (NSOs) for Phelps Dodge's Douglas smelter and Magma Copper Company's San Manuel smelter, and in formulating positions on international agreements to protect environmental elements in the so-called "Grey Triangle" - an area bounded by the Douglas smelter and two large Mexican-owned smelters in Cananea and Nacozari, Sonora.

Of note also are files relating to SES's efforts to force the federal government to bring Phelps Dodge and Magma facilities into compliance with the Clean Air Act. Through petitions, hearings, and lawsuits involving SES, Environmental Defense Fund, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona Department of Health Services, and other agencies, the Douglas smelter was closed, and Magma built a new, cleaner furnace.

The shift from advocacy of land-use planning and water quality to issues of urban and rural air quality and smelter emission control is documented in these records. The use of the legislative and legal process to create and enforce state and federal standards is evident in the Sabino Creek, Environmental Quality Act, and smelter advocacy files. Due to a lack of prospective large projects, a lessening of grant support, and a decision by SES's director to direct her professional attentions to other fields, SES ceased operation on 31 March 1988, thus ending 14 years of responsible leadership and informed commentary of many environmental issues facing Tucson, Arizona, and the West.


This collection is organized into five series:
Series I: Director's Reports and Board of Director's Meetings Minutes, 1975-1987
Series II: Correspondence and Testimonies, 1977-1980
Series III: Publications, 1977-1988
Series IV: Photographs, 1986
Series V: Workshops and Projects, 1975-1988





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Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Yuhnke, Robert E.
Babbitt, Bruce E.
Baron, David S.
Kamp, Richard
Tellman, Barbara

Corporate Name(s)
Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
Environmental Defense Fund
Groups Against Smelter Pollution
Magma Copper Company
Phelps Dodge Corporation
Pima County (Ariz.) -- Wastewater Management Dept.
Smelter Crisis Education Project
United States -- Environmental Protection Agency

Geographic Name(s)
Arizona -- Politics and government
Catalina State Park (Ariz.)
Grey Triangle Region (Ariz.-Mexico)
Tortolita Mountains Region (Ariz.)

Acid rain -- Arizona
Air - Pollution -- Arizona
Copper mines and mining -- Arizona
Environmental policy -- Arizona
Environmental protection -- Arizona -- Citizen participation
Flood control -- Arizona -- Tucson
Land use -- Arizona -- Planning -- Citizen participation
Public interest law -- Arizona
Smelting -- Environmental aspects -- Arizona
Water quality -- Arizona
Water-supply -- Arizona

Genre Form(s)

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Southwest Environment Service records(MS 269).Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Container List

Series I: Director's Reports and Board of Director's Meetings Minutes, 1975-1988
Contains monthly director's reports outlining the current activities, including workshops planned, hearings attended, and new issues to the Board of Directors; agendas of meetings; and minutes of meetings.
11 Board of Directors roster. , 1979-1984
12-9 Director's reports and Board minutes. , 1975-1987
Series II: Correspondence and Testimonies, 1977-1987
Contains incoming letters, and photocopies of outgoing office replies, on a wide variety of issues and information requests. The bulk of the correspondence is between government officials and the director and research assistants at SES. Also includes typescripts and drafts of testimony given by the director and staff at public hearings in Tucson, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. Correspondents include Arizona politicians Dennis DeConcini, Morris Udall, Jim Kolbe, and Bruce Babbitt. Additional correspondence is found in the Workshops and Projects series.
110 Correspondence and testimonies. , 1977-1980
21-6 Correspondence and testimonies. , 1981-1987
Series III: Publications, 1977-1988
Contains flyers, newsletters, and grant publications produced by the office relating to public meetings, hearings, legislation, and current activities.
31-2 Publications. , 1977-1988
Series IV: Photographs, 1986
One photograph of Priscillia Robinson in a working session with members of the Water Quality Task Force; one of her at the signing of the Environmental Quality Act of 1986, with Governor Babbitt and others; and one of her with Dick Kamp and Bob Yuhnke standing beside an airplane.
33 Photographs. , 1986
Series V: Workshops and Projects, 1975-1988
Contains correspondence, memos, reports, legal records, and printed materials with federal, state, and independent agencies, environmental groups, and members of Arizona's congressional delegation which documents SES involvement and critique of standards, legislation, and reports on sundry environmental issues and projects. Correspondents in the Smelter Advocacy subseries include Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Smelter Crisis Education Project (Naco, Arizona), Groups Against Smelter Pollution (Bisbee, Arizona), Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, and congressional representatives Morris Udall, Dennis DeConcini, James McNulty, John McCain, and Jim Kolbe.
34-5 Catalina State Park: Correspondence. , 1975-1988
36-7 Catalina State Park: Printed materials. , 1975-1988
38 Tortolita Town Hall. , 1975
39-10 Water Workshops: Correspondence and reports. , 1976-1977
311 Gila River Water Quality Standards. , 1976-1982
312-13 Mount Lemon / Sabino Creek Water Quality: Correspondence. , 1977-1985
314-16 Mount Lemon / Sabino Creek Water Quality: Lawsuit, USA v. Pima County. , 1977-1985
41 Tortolita and Northwest Area Water Resources Study. , 1977
42 Hydrologists Workshop. , 1977
43 Water Quality: Regulations. , 1977-1986
44 Water Quality: Legislation. , 1977-1986
45-8 Water Quality: Revisions to Hawke bill. , 1977-1986
49 Water Quality: Clippings, general. , 1977-1986
410 Water Quality: Clippings, Environmental Quality Act. , 1977-1986
411 Clean Air Workshop. , 1978
412-13 Flood Hazards Education Project. , 1980
414 Water Users Retreat. , 1982
Smelter Advocacy
415 Multi-point rollback regulations. , 1979-1983
416 General: includes 1st Non-Ferrous Smelter Order (NSO) regulations and hearings. , 1978-1979
417 General: includes U.S. Environmental Protection Service hearing on visibility, Salt Lake City, Utah. , 1980
418 General: includes Clean Air Act amendments and congressional hearings. , 1981
51-2 General: Clean Air Act amendments and acid rain. , 1981-1982
53-4 NSOs for Douglas and San Manuel, and Greenpeace caper. , 1982
55-6 Loans to foreign copper companies and House Interior committee hearings, Tucson, Arizona. , 1983-1984
57 General: clippings. , 1983-1984
58-10 Morenci and Douglas operating permits, western acid rain, and smelters. , 1984
511 Asarco compliance and cleanup. , 1981-1984
512-14 Grey Triangle agreements. , 1982-1987
515-16 Phelps Dodge union strikes: clippings. , 1983-1985
61 Lawsuit: Kamp vs. Hernandez, challenging the regulations limiting the emission of sulfer dioxide from copper smelters in Arizona. , 1983-1985
62 Lawsuit: Environmental Defense Fund vs. Phelps Dodge and Magma. , 1984-1986
63 General: clippings. , 1985
64-8 General: correspondence and reports: Acid rain, Douglas smelter operating permit. , 1985
69-11 General: clippings, Acid rain and Douglas smelter operating permit. , 1985-1986
612 Petition to EPA for SO2 standard to protect asthmatics. , 1985-1986
613-15 Douglas smelter NSO, operating permit, temporary closure and consent decree. , 1986
616-19 Magma Copper Co. 2nd NSO and legal action, hearing consent decree, and clippings. , 1983-1987