Wilderness designation is the highest level of protection for federal public land available in the United States.
This will be the first wilderness area protected by Congress in Arizona since the bipartisan work of Mo Udall and John McCain led to enactment of the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act seventeen years ago.
Rep. Grijalva worked with both wilderness advocates and diverse groups of stakeholders to assure this proposal will serve a broad range of interests.
“I am proud to introduce this legislation that will help retain an important piece of our heritage,” said Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee of National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “By protecting the area as wilderness, we will preserve a vital piece of our natural and cultural history and leave it as a legacy for our children and grandchildren. We will also provide a refuge and safe haven for the area’s rare and sensitive plant and wildlife species.”
The Highlands, which include parts of the Atascosa, Pajarito, and Tumacacori mountains, are home to many endangered and sensitive species, including the jaguar, the Mexican-spotted owl, and the Chiracahua leopard frog. The area also harbors more than 2,000 plant species, 265 bird species and 75 reptile species, many of which can be found nowhere else in the United States. Additionally, wilderness designation will benefit outdoor enthusiasts, by preserving the area’s incredible scenic values and historical sites, ensuring exceptional hiking, backpacking, bird-watching and hunting opportunities for years to come.
Since Congress passed the hallmark Wilderness Act in 1964, over 100 million acres of land throughout the country have been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System.