Southern Arizona is growing exponentially. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and Pima Association of Governments, Arizona's population has increased 584 percent since 1950. Pima County and Santa Cruz County are both expected to double in the next 50 years, with Pima County reaching a population of 2 million [Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division; Arizona Department of Economic Security, Research Administration, Population Statistics Unit.] With this increase in population comes a growing demand for outdoor recreation, causing greater impact on the land and wildlife as more and more people seek wild areas for rest and enjoyment.
The Impacts of Growth
As a result of this demand on the Tumacacori Highlands, off-road vehicle use is the greatest and most pressing threat to this pristine remnant of the American West. The threats of mining and development come second to the lasting effects of off-road vehicles on the landscape. Roads and tracks created by unrestricted off-road vehicle use cause habitat damage, erosion, wildlife disturbance and can even decrease effective border security. Both the quality of the landscape and a person's feeling of solitude are adversely affected.
If left unchecked, what was once a beautiful and quiet place for hunting, hiking and refuge will become scarred and damaged. Wildlife and game will become scarce and disappear. People seeking wilderness adventure or peaceful reflection will have to go elsewhere to find it. Instead of a retreat into wilderness, we will have only a large motorized playground.
Fortunately there is a Solution...
Realizing the Tumacacori Highland's importance biologically and recreationally, local citizens began looking for ways to preserve it. Congressionally-designated Wilderness, with its statutory and historically-vetted protections, especially as a tool to prevent fragmentation and destruction of the the land from new, often user-created and illegal, roads, emerged as the best way to assure preservation.
When the Wilderness Act was passed by Congress in 1945 it provided a tool to preserve the historically wild character of the American landscape. And to preserve, indefinitely, your right to experience and explore wilderness... the same, unaltered landscape that the first Americans and indigenous people set foot on and grew to love.
Wilderness is the best tool we can use to protect the Tumacacori Highlands. Core areas of native biodiversity, and their vigorous protection, are essential to maintaining native biodiversity of a large scale. This tool seeks to keep the landscape exactly as it is for future generations, while still providing access for vehicle travel on designated Forest Service roads. Wilderness designation preserves our right to continue to enjoy the landscape, the views and the solitude... without destroying why we want to be there in the first place.
Learn more about what wilderness means for the Tumacacori Highlands!