CORNERSTONES of Our Economy
These last undeveloped mountain ranges are vital watersheds for the integrity of Karchner Caverns and provide the vast, quiet open space essential for Fort Huachuca's Electronic Proving Ground & its future. Their scenic beauty gives us a competitive advantage over other regions in attracting new businesses, talented workers & investment in our communities. These mountains are also critical sources of clean water vital to Cochise County's flourishing local wineries, vineyards & other agriculture industries
To leave these magnificent but sensitive public land mountian ranges vulnerable to future development & inapproriate uses is to risk our own economic future & our quality-of-life.
Protecting Integrity of Kartchner Caverns
Kartchner Caverns State Park is one of the top 10 most-visited and highest-grossing state parks in Arizona, responsible for nearly 200 local jobs and contributing over $14,000,000 annually to Cochise County's economy.
Kartchner's complex and fragile subterranean hydrology is critically reliant on the seeping water that flows through the millions of tiny cracks in the surface of the bedrock in the Whetstone mountains above it--not just directly upslope but throughout the range.
If those cracks are filled due to sedimentation from development or inappropriate off-road vehicle use, Kartchner could dry up forever--as would the economic benefit it brings to Cochise County.
Protecting Fort Huachuca's Future. Fort Huachuca located in Sierra Vista is the largest employer in Cochise County, responsible for over 9,400 direct jobs. The total economic impact of the Fort on Cochise County is estimated at 2.4 billion annually, and generating $23.2 million per year in local sales tax and $17.3 million in local property tax in Cochise County.
In the modern era of constrained defense budgets and base closures, it's critical that we act to permanently protect the remaining large tracts of undeveloped, quiet public lands within Fort Huachuca's electronic testing area. The Whetstones, Dragoons and Chiricauhas fall within the Fort's Electronic Proving Ground. To help protect the Fort, and the thousands of local jobs and billions of dollars it generates for Cochise County, is critical that we permanently protect these last remnants of open space public lands for our future.
Growing Our Tourism & Recreation Industries. Thousands of people visit this region every year to take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy the many wonderful solitude and outdoor opportunities.
According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitors contributed over $16 billion to the state’s economy in 2009, and directly generated $2.4 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues. In 2002 the University of Arizona reported income between 22 and 26 million dollars from birding, hiking, stargazing, and other nature-related activities in the Upper San Pedro River Basin alone.
Expand this to other special areas in Cochise County and quiet recreation becomes a significant component of annual revenues for our local businesses. New permanent protection designations for the Whetstones, Dragoons and Chiricahuas will safeguard their scenic beauty and help shine a national spotlight on southeastern Arizona and Cochise County, creating even greater interest in the area.
Protecting Our Wine & Agriculture Industries. Arizona’s emerging wine industry is flourishing in Cochise County, with the opening of over 7 new vineyards and tasting rooms throughout the county and more on the way. In fact, the majority of Arizona's wines statewide are now produced from Cochise County grapes. Permanent protection for the Whetstone Dragoon & Chiricahua mountains will protect critical sources of clean water vital to our local wineries, vineyards and other agriculture industries.
Safeguarding these areas will maintain watersheds and provide protection to plants, wildlife & birds including pollinator species essential to local wine, grape & food production and farm-to-market agriculture. It is critical that we permanently protect these roadless headwaters on public land to ensure our local wine and agriculture industries can continue to flourish in the future.