Driving the length of the designated scenic highway that is state Route 83, I was reminded that the Rosemont Mine and its blast dust will be visible from all over Sonoita – from the rodeo stands at the fairgrounds, from the Elgin School and from the Sonoita Fire Station.
The idea that they will place a berm along 83 as mitigation is laughable.
The mine will be seen from the west gate of Fort Huachuca and the entire Sonoita plateau, from backyards, schoolyards, churches, rented Harleys and thoroughbred horses, and from the ever-expanding vineyards.
If you have not taken this drive, please do. Driving north from the Huachuca Mountains toward Sonoita really is one of the most beautiful drives anywhere.
Along 83 north and south of Sonoita, you see the Huachucas, Santa Ritas, Catalinas, Rincons, Chiracauhuas, San Pedro Valley and more for 60 miles in every direction.
To say you will not see the pit where it climbs to the ridge of the northern arm of the Santa Ritas is absurd.
This area is home to people, pronghorn and cougars. To destroy such priceless resources as a lifelong safe home for our citizens in exchange for the short-term profits of a foreign investor is to guarantee that our homeland is not secure at all.
Geographically, this area is so diverse that it attracts tourists from all over the world.
It is the only land bridge above 4,000 feet between the Rockies and the Sierra Madre.
Look at any 1,000-foot contour map of the continents, and you will see this narrow isthmus between continental mountain ranges. Our weather is created there.
Traveling along Route 83 leaving the Sonoran Desert, you climb past the mine site into grasslands plateau truly rare in the Southwest and then into Madrean evergreen forest.
The mine is at the transition point where in winter you may first view the snowcapped peak of Mount Wrightson and in early summer the mass of monsoon building to the southeast.
This is where the monsoon meets the mountains and hot air rising from Tucson to create our rain, at the headwaters of our watershed.
Mine development in that location will not only destroy the Forest Service’s multiuse management goal, but also our own unique geography.
Economists, hydrologists, chemists, engineers and biologists will undoubtedly weigh the predicted changes, but the damage is easy to foresee.
Over Labor Day weekend, Davidson Canyon was running bank to bank (as the O’odham cowboys say) and full with mud. The grass was waist high and reminiscent of its historical proportions. The caterpillars and flowers were plentiful.
This is truly one of the least appropriate places for a mine.
While I shed a tear for this area, the sorrow will be much greater the first time someone dies in an accident on Route 83 involving a mining truck.
And it will be greater forever for residents of eastern Pima and western Cochise counties.
Greg Saxe is a University of Arizona graduate and Tucson resident who has worked locally as a planner for 15 years.