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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Aravaipa canyon protected, remains wildlife preserve

Within the Galiuro Mountains in Arizona lies the Aravaipa Canyon nature preserve, a slice of wildlife that thankfully still exists even after the proposal to test weapons on the land.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, in August 2015, Scottsdale-based Force Options 360 Tactical Training LLC proposed to use parts of Graham County as the site for small caliber weapons testing and first-responder training. Force Options did however back off the land in September, but not before proposing to majorly rezone the land for the company’s own benefit.

Force Options had originally promised jobs for aerospace companies in the area and planned to construct not only new buildings, but also a landing strip for aircraft maintenance and drone flight.

Ignoring the original fears locals had about the noise, Force Options continued to expand its proposal by reaching out to Raytheon Missile Systems with a contract, but the company wasn’t interested.

Force Options wanted to not just shoot rounds and fly aircraft, but test large explosives on a tranquil strip of land that’s supposed to be set aside for preserving life. What good does setting up a nature preserve do if it’s not going to be preserved? Nothing.

National Geographic, the National Wildlife Federation and the UA all agree that established deserts are in just as much danger of disappearance as cooler biomes.

UA Wildlife and Fisheries Science professor Robert Steidl explained that the most important aspect of Aravaipa Canyon, “is the creek, which flows year round and remains in nearly pristine condition, unlike so many of the other creeks in Arizona that have been degraded through time.” Bodies such as this one help maintain this arid ecosystem.

Aside from cactus hugging, the number of jobs Force Options could offer can’t be taken as an incentive because it never had a definitive answer for how many jobs the site would offer the surrounding community.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the number of jobs that would have been created by this facility was unclear; an official on the project voiced extremely vague projections regarding possible incoming job opportunities created by Force Options.

If Force Options was able to pull through and really did want to benefit the community with first-responder training, its original plans wouldn’t have helped Arizona deal with what natural disasters the climate produces.

Sites such as and Just in Case Arizona already help the public prepare for these disasters caused by the arid climate, something Force Options can’t achieve with guns or missiles.

According to, Tucson especially ranks low on nearly all disaster indexes these ranging from volcanos, tornados and earthquakes. As of 2015, the most dangerous disasters in all of Arizona are thunderstorm winds and the resulting floods.

Force wasn’t preparing first responders to battle floods or fires, however, unless they planned to shoot rounds into ominous looking clouds.

Force wanted to test weapons, fly drones likely for surveillance and test missile weapons for who knows what. There isn’t a high demand for such explosives in the state, so unless Mexico is suddenly pronounced to be the deadliest nation on the planet, Arizona doesn’t need this kind of military base, and people realized this.

For once nature won. The community of Cross F. Ranch fought back to protect the land and beauty that Arizona has to offer, and it’s high time the rest of the world takes up the same ethics before there really is no wildlife left to preserve.

Follow Ashleigh Horowitz on Twitter.

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