Living in the national and ecological borderlands of Southern Arizona, the Rincon Group of the Sierra Club’s Arizona Grand Canyon Chapter is positioned to influence a diverse set of environmental issues in and around the Tucson metropolitan area. The Rincon Group was created in the 1970s and has grown steadily in scope and influence over the years. Today, the Group addresses several fundamental environmental challenges, including the effects of border security on the region’s landscapes, advancement of abundant renewable energy sources, water conservation and smart growth. Many of our initiatives focus on grassroots movements and rely heavily on the passion and dedication of the greater Tucson community and fellow Sierra Club members. 


Rincon Group Programs, First Quarter 2016


Rincon Group programs are from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. They are at new site: the Ward Three Tucson City Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road. They are free and open to the public.


Thursday, January 14. Parks in Peril. Would you rather immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon’s vastness and hear your voice echo back at you – or immerse yourself in a sea of blinking lights and booming sounds of a mega-mall? At Yellowstone, do you want to watch herds of bison graze and roam – or do you want to watch them get loaded onto trucks and shipped to slaughter? In Mojave National Preserve, do you want to see endangered desert tortoises paint their mouths red with spring flowers – or do you want to see their habitat swallowed by miles of solar panels? As we celebrate our National Park Service’s 100th birthday in 2016, we must stand up for our national parks. Kevin Dahl of National Parks Conservation Association presents on these issues


Thursday, February 11. Restore Lower Sabino and Tanque Verde Creeks. Until about the 1950s much of the Santa Cruz River and its tributary streams flowed year-round. Now the rivers and the streams that feed into them only flow after heavy rains and for short periods of time. Watershed Management Group (WMG) believes I we must reclaim our water heritage and forge a new Arizona water future. WMG launched an initiative to restore perennial flow in Lower Sabino Creek and now is expanding its focus to Tanque Verde Creek. Catlow Shipek, WMG's Policy and Technical Director and co-founder, shares how it plans to achieve this goal and what you can do to help.


Thursday, March 10. Saving Unique Sonoran Desert Plants. Since its inception in 1999 the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society's "Cactus Rescue" program has saved more than 76,000 cacti, agaves, ocotillos, sotols, and yuccas from the bulldozer. It makes them available to the public for low water use landscaping at reasonable cost. Salvaged plants also have found homes at Pima Prickly Park, Mission Gardens, Krutch Garden on the UA campus, several schools, and the Center For Biological Diversity's historic Owl's Club.  The Society’s Bill Thornton explains how it saves the desert one plant at a time and how you can help.


First Quarter Outings 2016


JAN 2-3 (SAT-SUN) “C”  Leafcutting Ant Project Discovery Hike in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Come for a day or for the weekend; overnight at group campsite in campground Friday/Saturday nights. Daily meet-up at 9 am sharp at Visitor Center parking lot. These are daytime research study data-collection hikes (3-8 miles) along braided major arroyo channels in the south part of the park, through lower bajada environments with elevation gain/loss under 200 feet. Many eyes will help our search for rare Atta mexicana ant colonies, but expect a very slow walking pace not very suitable as an aerobic work-out/conditioning exercise. Bring water, lunch and phone/device with GPS App to enhance navigation experience (many areas have excellent cell coverage). Rain cancels daily hike, but not the following day’s hike. Background info: Contact Elna Otter at 520-212-9736 or

JAN 16 (SAT) “B” Agua Caliente Hill. This is a strenuous hike, 3,000 ft elevation gain, 9.25 RT, 6-7 hours. This hike traverses an area between the Santa Catalina and the Rincon Mountains. It begins with a gradual climb that steepens. At the saddle it features a lovely meadow area.  The views from the peak are beautiful, featuring the adjacent mountains and the valley below (Tucson). Reserve your space with Colleen Collen 520-577-4543, e-mail

JAN 23 (SAT) “B” Rogers Canyon Hike (8 miles RT). Join us for a spectacular hike in the Superstition Wilderness! In Rogers Canyon the views are awesome and the end of the trail holds a great reward. We will start our hike at Rogers Trough trailhead and enjoy the great geology, botany and scenery of the eastern Superstition. We will discuss the ecology of this high desert riparian area, as well as the archaeological aspectsof Rogers Canyon. If time allows on the drive home, we’ll check out a little known arch. Group limit 12. Contact Mitch Stevens at 520-991-1199 or

JAN 23 (SAT) “B” Elephant Head Hike and Scramble (6.2 mi RT, 2343’ AEG).Elephant Head (5,607 ft) is a prominent natural landmark in Santa Cruz Valley on the west side of the Santa Rita mountain range. Climbing this steep 1000’ monolith will require negotiating steep trails and some class 3 off-trail scrambling near the summit. The summit affords magnificent views of the Santa Cruz Valley, Arivaca, Tubac, and Baboquivari Peak. This hike will be limited to those with experience in off-trail hiking and in good physical condition. Plan on 5 hours of hiking plus 2 hours of RT driving time. Contact Donald Smith at 520-591-9938 or

JAN 25 (MON) “D” U.S.-Mexico Border Up Close Join us at the Mission Library at 3770 S. Mission Rd. (at the intersection with Ajo) at 10 AM for an illustrated talk about environmental impacts of U.S. border enforcement. Then we’re off to Nogales to enjoy a taco lunch at Cocina La Ley, where we will be met by a local rancher who will show us some Nogales sites before heading off to his ranch, which adjoins the border. Details may change prior to a final confirmation note. Contact Elna Otter at 520-212-9736 or

JAN 31 (SAT)  “C+” Picacho Peak Hike (3-4 mi RT, 1780 ft elevation gain). Picacho Peak is an exciting, short, strenuous hike to a summit with 360 degrees of fantastic views. The hike is challenging, but there are cables to assist through the more difficult areas. You will want to bring gloves as well as water and some snacks for the top. We plan on leaving from Picacho Peak trailhead (Hunter Trail) around 9:30 am. There is a fee of $7 per car to enter Picacho Peak State Park, so consider carpooling. Contact John Che preferably at or via text at 520-360-2507 (please no calls before 1/18/2015 to avoid international roaming charges).

FEB 13 (SAT) “C” Saguaro National Park East Service Project. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, we will help Saguaro National Park remove buffelgrass from key habitat areas. The outing will involve meeting National Park staff in the east district, driving and hiking to a pull location, and working for a few hours to manually pull Buffelgrass. Have you ever wondered what buffelgrass looks like? Do you have it in your neighborhood, your yard? There is no better way to learn about this harmful invasive plant than to volunteer to pull it. The park will provide work gloves, tools and a safety message. This is a great opportunity to improve your understanding of this threat to the Sonoran Desert. Limit 10. Contact Meg Weesner for details at or 520-290-1723.

FEB 20 (SAT) “B+” Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Wilderness, Mount Ajo (9 miles; 2,440 ft elevation gain). Mount Ajo is the tallest mountain in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is located in a spectacular setting and climbing it is a great way to experience the Sonoran Desert. On the way to the peak, we’ll pause at the spectacular Bull Pasture Overlook. If winter rains are generous, the park erupts with dense stands of Mexican Gold Poppies. On the return hike, we will double back and take the Estes Canyon Trail to the trailhead.  Estes Canyon is spectacular for birding and has many beautiful Organ Pipe Cacti. We’ll discuss the unique botany and ecology of this fascinating region. Limit: 12. Please contact Mitch Stevens ( or 520-991-1199) or Beth Ann Krueger, ( to register.

FEB 27-28 (SAT-SUN) “C” Winter Ghost Trip and Hike. Walk the San Pedro River Trail loop at Fairbank, learn about Tombstone’s haunts, and explore the historic mining ghost town of Fairbank. Ghost tour on Saturday evening followed by the 3.5 hour Fairbank hike the next morning. Ghost tour tickets are $13; payment must be received by Feb. 24 to ensure group rate and a seat on the tour. Participants are responsible for making their own lodging reservations and travel plans. For lodging suggestions in Tombstone, see Participant limit is 10. Sign up on Sierra Adventure MeetUp (preferred) or email Beth Ann Krueger at

Ghost Tour – One hour tour on board an open trolley; narrated by Parson George, a local Tombstone character. Please dress warmly, as the trolley windows are open to allow for photos and a clear view of structures and other areas, allegedly where ghosts have been observed.

Fairbank Hike, 8 AM to 11:30 AM – Moderate morning hike in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Expect to see birds and small wildlife as well as an old cemetery and some mining “left-overs.” Not a high-speed hike, but we’ll keep a steady pace. We’ll pause for photography and observing birds, insects, and plants. Bring hiking boots, hats, unscented sunscreen, snacks and plenty of water. Binoculars are recommended. Wear layers – mornings are cold (below freezing) in the winter.

MAR 18-20 (FRI-SUN) Chiricahua National Monument and Fort Bowie Hike and Camp. We will be starting at the Ruins Trail to Fort Bowie, about a two-hour drive from Tucson. This is about a 4 mile RT easy hike back to the site of the fort. Friday night we will camp in the group site at the Bonita Campground in the Chiricahua National Monument. On Saturday we will take the van (8:30 am) from the visitor's center to the top and hike to the "heart of the rocks," about a 10 mile hike.  Saturday night we will enjoy a group potluck back at the campground. Sunday morning we will hike Echo Canyon Loop. This is a 3.3 mile loop. There are optional short hikes, to the meadow, sugarloaf hill or the Faraway Ranch that you can do on your own. Reserve your space with Colleen Collen 520 577-4543, e-mail

MAR 19 (SAT) “B+” Elephant Head Hike (6.2 mi RT, 1053' EC, 2343' accumulated elevation gain). Elephant Head (5607’) is a prominent natural land mark in the Santa Cruz Valley on the west side of the Santa Rita mountain range. Climbing this steep 1000 foot monolith will require some off-trail scrambling. The summit affords magnificent views of the Santa Cruz valley, Arivaca, Tubac and Baboquivari Peak. This hike requires some experience in off-trail hiking and scrambling. Contact John Che preferably at or via text at 520-360-2507 (please no calls before 1/18/2015).

APR 2-3 (SAT-SUN) Gila Box Canoe/Kayak Trip. The Gila River runs westward across southern Arizona and the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area has year round water, for canoes and kayaks. Bring binoculars and camera to view black bear, mule deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, beaver, bobcat, coatimundi and mountain lion. The 2 day paddle trip starts at the Old Safford Bridge near Clifton and ends 23 miles downriver at Dry Canyon near Safford. The group will camp overnight near the halfway point and participants must provide or rent all equipment, including canoe/kayak, paddles, PFD, dry bags, camping gear and food. Paddlers must have previous experience and the skill to negotiate up to class II+ rapids and avoid strainers/sweepers. The Gila Box RNCA charges a $3/person fee. Contact Donald Smith at 520-591-9938 or, or contact Mitch Stevens at 520-991-1199 or

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