We hope to protect the core of the Tumacacori, Pajarito and Atascosa Mountains as a future Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness. This area, west of Nogales, Arizona, is managed by the Coronado National Forest and is contiguous to the already existing Pajarito Wilderness. This effort boosts wide support of local communities and individuals partially because it offers boundless adventure, spectacular vistas, open rolling oak savannas and a sense of wonder derived from the overall beauty and solitude. But the Tumacacori Highlands go beyond our sense of beauty: the area serves as prime habitat for jaguar and several animal and plant species that extend their range north, from Mexico, into the United States only in the canyons and mountains found here. As congressionally designated Wilderness, it will serve as a refuge for wildlife and as a connection between the mountains of Mexico and the mountain habitat found to the north, east and west.
The Tumacacori Highlands
The Tumacacori Highlands play host to an incredible array of wild creatures. Jaguars, elegant trogons, gray hawks, black bear, mountain lions, javelina, coati, and many more amazing animals call this area home. Not only do the Tumacacori Highlands offer prime habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife, they also provide sanctuary for over fifty plants and animals that are recognized as threatened, endangered or sensitive – one of the highest concentrations of vulnerable species in the Arizona. Many species that live primarily in tropical and sub-tropical climates, such as the five-stripped sparrow, Mexican vine snake, tropical kingbird, and the jaguar, reach their northern limits in the Tumacacori Highlands. This place also hosts sub-tropical epiphytes (a tree-dwelling bromeliad) and a wide variety of other plants that find their way north in the shaded canyons that give visitors a sense of hiking through a timeless landscape.
The region consists of broken lichen-drenched cliffs falling away from Atascosa Peak, undulating bajadas of oak savannah, spectacular intact canyons and highly valuable riparian habitat, alive with streams and precious pools. It is in this spectacular setting that hikers can spend days exploring ridge tops and canyons. Hunters search the hills and draws for the elusive Coues whitetail deer. History buffs can wander looking for the ancient grinding stones (called matates), petrogylphs, and pottery left by the Sobaipuri and Pima natives long ago, as well as the Hispanic, and early Anglo artifacts that still remain in this special place. Wildlife enthusiasts and botanists can revel in an area that boasts many endemic species that occur nowhere else on earth and more wildlife and plant species than those that inhabit some entire states.
From ancient cultures to modern life, people have depended upon the Tumacacori Highlands as a sanctuary, home and living laboratory. Today, these vast relatively untouched lands also provide a refuge from busy lives led elsewhere. This vast assemblage of wildlands, wild creatures and the traditional uses that occur in the Tumacacori Highlands should remain unchanged, sustaining a resource that can forever be appreciated by future generations. Designating this area as Wilderness will secure this future.