Southern Arizona is one of the most biologically diverse regions of North America as a result of a complex interplay of geographic location and differences in elevation across the landscape, from the low-elevation valleys to high-elevation Sky Island mountains. All of these influences can be seen in the Sonoita Valley, the Santa Rita Mountains, and at the site of the proposed Rosemont Mine.
If approved, the mine would destroy over 5,000 acres of habitat for plants and animals, including nine threatened and endangered species: Chiricahua leopard frog, Gila chub, Gila topminnow, Huachuca water umbel, jaguar, ocelot, lesser long- nosed bat, Pima pineapple cactus, and southwestern willow flycatcher.
The mine would disrupt an important intersection of wildlife corridors that connect the northern Santa Rita Mountains with Mexico to the south, the Whetstones to the east, and the Rincon and Santa Catalina Mountains to the north. As the Arizona Game and Fish Department noted, the mine would “render the northern portion of the Santa Rita Mountains virtually worthless as wildlife habitat and as a functioning ecosystem, and thus also worthless for wildlife recreation.”
The mine’s impact on the region’s groundwater and storm flows would lead to a drying of already-stressed aquatic and riparian areas, especially Cienega Creek, Davidson Canyon, and Empire Gulch. These areas represent some of the best habitat in Southern Arizona for dozens of species, including the Chiricahua leopard frog and Gila topminnow. Though some of the photographs presented here were not taken on the actual mine site, all the species occur in the affected area and would be impacted by the mine.