Courting the green vote
At first glance, it looked like a travel folder touting Arizona, so thick was the carpet of yellow flowers at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, and so perfectly red were the rock spires of Monument Valley. But the eight-page, glossy brochure was a campaign ad for a state proposal to save $220 million worth of state-owned open space in Arizona, while at the same time enacting statewide restrictions on anti-growth measures.
Never mind that those peaks and spires aren't on state lands - San Francisco Peaks lie within the national forest and the Navajo Tribe owns Monument Valley - the ads worked. Critics say it's greenwashing, but a new open-space-saving scheme called "Growing Smarter" is now law in Arizona.
By 53-47 percent, voters approved an 11-year program to buy and save the state-owned Sonoran Desert from the bulldozer, despite the Sierra Club's contention that the open-space money only disguised the anti-environmental provisions in the referendum. The club says it will encourage, not stop, urban sprawl. And it doesn't guarantee that the Legislature will actually fund the program.
"It's not a good environmental measure," says Sierra Club staffer Sandy Bahr.
With the help of a $700,000 campaign war chest and support from developers, open-space groups and The Nature Conservancy, "Growing Smarter'" found strong support in the booming Phoenix metro area, though it was defeated in 11 of the state's counties, including more liberal Pima County, which contains the Tucson metro area.