Sonoran Desert Wilderness Testimonials

Roy and Ella Pierpoint (Arlington, AZ): Pierpoint Farms, Inc.

"My wife Ella and I raised our son in the Gila Bend Mountains and have been farming here since 1970. As Arizona Site Stewards, we value the added protection that a wilderness designation will bring to the irreplaceable archaeological sites here at Red Rock Canyon. There’s an amazing record that the Patayan people carved into the canyon sandstone a thousand of years ago. We feel it’s important to leave for the next generation what was left for us, so they can enjoy and learn from it just as we have; the only record we have of these native peoples are the rock images and archaeological ruins they have left behind."

Ron Sites (Goodyear, AZ): Executive Director, Fighter Country Partnership

"If the goals of the Sonoran Desert Heritage plan are accomplished, by preserving ground, they are preserving air space that Luke Air Force Base needs now for F-16s and hopefully for the future F-35. Right now the Barry M. Goldwater Range and the lands that surround it are a treasure, and so is our air space. We all know what kind of economic engine the Base is for Arizona’s economy. The lands proposed in the Sonoran Desert Heritage plan, combined with the current flight paths at the Base, show incredible overlap; it’s very easy for us to support this project because it’s supporting the mission of the Base. Fighter Country Partnership supports the Sonoran Desert Heritage plan because it protects the air space that Luke Air Force Base and other installations in Arizona need to continue their missions now and going forward."

Mayor Jackie Meck (Buckeye, AZ): Mayor, Town of Buckeye

"The Sonoran Desert Heritage plan is very important to me as well as future generations. I would like to see my children and their grandchildren be able to enjoy the open space as I have been able to do. I have hunted deer, javelina, quail, white tail, and dove over most of the state of Arizona. The areas that are within close proximity to the town of Buckeye are the West Side of Harquahala Valley, east, west and north of Gila Bend. The Sonoran Desert Heritage initiative has plans to provide for the preservation of several desert plains and mountains.
Having been born and grown up in Buckeye, and being able to go to areas that were open and free, are real highlights of my life. We need to provide a legacy of open public lands. I believe the Sonoran Desert Heritage plan is one of the answers. Once the land is developed, we can’t get it back, and we know the good Lord isn’t making any more land."

Karrin Taylor (Scottsdale, AZ): Executive Vice-President, DMB Associates, Inc.

"DMB understands the importance of protecting key natural resources and environmentally significant lands. Our approach with DMB properties, including Verrado, is to plan the site to be sensitive to natural terrain and environmental conditions. DMB Associates supports the Sonoran Desert Heritage proposal that calls for different levels of protection through federal designations, allowing certain types of recreation and other uses where appropriate. "

Pastor Keenan D. Ward (Avondale, AZ): Pastor, Avondale Church of God

"I appreciate the benefits of this proposal for the sustainability of wildlife and outdoor recreation: many of our members, including our youth, partake in good, clean, healthy recreation including hunting, hiking, and camping while enjoying God's creation. As our world becomes increasingly gadget filled and godless, I find that the outdoors allows an avenue to escape to a quieter and more secluded environment where wholesome activities and spiritual reflection can take place."

Marshall Trimble: Official Arizona State Historian

"This endeavor is about preserving the history, the heritage, and the legacy of Arizona. For me, there is no higher calling. Across the globe, people’s fascination with Arizona has stood the test of time, just as our magnificent landscape. The serious question for our generation is “what will be left” and whether we have the wisdom to cherish and value it before it vanishes."

Sarah King (Peoria, AZ): Horsewoman and instructor

"Horses teach us about compassion and loyalty, it's true, but they also teach us much about appreciation of the natural world. Bringing our horses out into wilderness areas completes that whole picture. Wilderness is a good place to ride because it’s so different from urban trails where motorized vehicles are allowed. In wilderness, my horses are calm and open to being at one with a quiet, peaceful place. They look to wilderness areas with new excitement, and that translates to me as the rider. It’s a wonderful experience that’s becoming more of a rarity as Arizona becomes increasingly urbanized."

Paul Roetto (Tonopah, AZ): President, Friends of Saddle Mountain

"The Friends of Saddle Mountain is a cactus-roots organization that was started to help the BLM take care of this unique place in western Maricopa County. The diversity of geology, archaeology, and life out here is quite impressive. Wilderness protection for Saddle Mountain would protect this unique place so that as Phoenix continues to grow, there’s a place where you can get off the beaten path and enjoy the solitude. Without that protection, it would probably be overrun with off-road vehicle riders, campers, hikers, and others and it would be destroyed for our grandchildren."

Kate Maracas (Phoenix, AZ): Vice President, Operations, Abengoa Solar Inc.

"We believe that solar development and desert conservation are mutually compatible. While our facility will be constructed on private lands west of Gila Bend, it is set against the backdrop of the Sentinel Plain, the Painted Rock Mountains, and the Woolsey Peak Wilderness area. We do not envision impacts from the operation of our facility on these special areas and appreciate the efforts to create additional protection of lands in the region. We are also supportive of the thoughtful and inclusive approach the Sonoran Institute and its partners are taking to inform stakeholders, and believe this effort will help secure a successful outcome."

Dr. William H. Doelle (Tucson, AZ): CEO and President, Center for Desert Archaeology

"The Center for Desert Archaeology is a non-profit organization operating in Arizona, New Mexico, and portions of Mexico. For 29 years, we have pursued our mission to preserve the places of our shared past on behalf of all who find meaning in such places. Towards this end, we would like to express our strong support for the Sonoran Desert Heritage proposal. Here in the Southwest, it is our experience that cultural resources on public lands are most threatened, at least in a collective sense, from inadvertent destruction (e.g. vehicles running over sites), surface artifact collecting, looting, and in some instances, outright vandalism. These resources are irreplaceable and efforts to better safeguard them are critical to protecting our cultural heritage for future generations."

Anthea M. Hartig (San Francisco, CA): Director, Western Regional Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation

"It is our interest in America’s magnificent public lands that compels us to support the Sonoran Desert Heritage proposal, which seeks congressional action to better protect the public lands of western Maricopa County. Of particular note is the Great Bend of the Gila River area. Prehistoric ballcourt villages, one of the most outstanding assemblages of petroglyphs in the Southwest, rock-walled hilltop villages and rich array of historic trails such as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Mormon Battalion, Butterfield Overland stage and historic Highway 80 make this area a special part of our cultural heritage. Unfortunately with attendant growth in Maricopa County, this rich array of cultural resources are under increasing threats from vandalism, looting and inadvertent destruction from increased recreational pressures from the expanding Phoenix metropolitan area. The time to act is now so that current and future residents can continue to enjoy and respect an important element of our shared cultural heritage."



Craig Weaver (Phoenix, AZ): Avid local hiker and naturalist, Tonopah Area Coalition

"The Tonopah Area Coalition has been working on preserving areas like Saddle Mountain and the Bighorn Mountains for about 25 years out here in the West Desert. In the 30 years I’ve been visiting this area, I see growth coming, and in the valley both to the east and west, there will be homes and development that will really change the region. If we have the foresight, we have a great opportunity to preserve this area in a way much like it is today. The benefit of that is for wildlife for the scenic beauty, and for us, future residents of the area. Just like Apache Junction has grown near the Superstition Mountains—people have fallen in love with those mountains because they see what a rare commodity scenic desert mountains provide.

I enjoy Saddle Mountain because of the variety of scenery and recreational opportunities here. There are a lot of great areas to go hiking, a lot of great canyons that provide solitude and remote areas that are within 10 or 15 minutes from where you park your car. You can be quickly immersed into areas with spectacular scenery and solitude in just a short drive from Phoenix."



Diane Brossart (Phoenix, AZ): President and CEO, Arizona Forward

"The Sonoran Desert Heritage initiative will help preserve and enhance our communities, making them more sustainable and livable for future generations. West Valley residents will be able to continue to enjoy the health benefits that open space provides. At the same time, these protected lands will offer refuge for our state’s iconic natural resources."

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