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  • Pima County Supervisors hire new manager for Colossal Cave Mountain Park

    Aug 17, 2015 | Read More News
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    colossal caveThe Pima County Board of Supervisors Monday voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Ortega National Parks LLC for the operation, rehabilitation and development of Colossal Cave Mountain Park.

    A selection committee composed of citizens and Pima County staff chose Santa Fe-based Ortega National Parks based for its successful track record operating concessions in several U.S. National Parks, including Carlsbad Caverns, Death Valley, and White Sands National Monument.

    The company’s retail roots spring from trading posts operated on the Navajo reservation in the late 19th Century. The family-owned company also is a fixture in the famous Plaza in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the Ortega family has operated restaurants, clothing and jewelry stores for more than 40 years. 

    The family also has ties to Tucson. Company president Armand Ortega grew up here before joining the family business in Santa Fe.

    The company expanded to park concession operations in the 1990s and emphasizes environmental protection, historic preservation and customer service. 

    “Ortega National Parks is a great fit for Colossal Cave Mountain Park. I’m excited for how the park will blossom under Ortega’s management,” said Mike Holmes, operations program manager for the county’s department of Economic Development and Tourism. “This company specializes in taking lesser-known or struggling parks and turning them around, adding services, improving features and growing visitation.”

    New Park General Manager Brian Held took control of operations Aug. 4 under a conditional interim agreement approved by the county to allow time for public notice and input ahead of today’s vote.

    Changes have already begun to happen at the 2,400-acre park. The $5 entry fee has been eliminated, the gift shop at the cave is undergoing renovation, and new attractions and tours will be added soon. 
    The ranch is offering a variety of new trail rides, but the ranch house itself is temporarily closed pending renovations and restoration.

    Supervisors also honored the Maierhauser family Monday, for its 60 years of service caring for and operating CCMP. Joe Maierhauser first started managing the park in 1956. When he died in 2007, his wife, Martie, whom Joe met at the park when she was visiting there, took over operation. 
    The board passed a proclamation recognizing the family’s many years of public service and its stewardship of the park on behalf of the people of Pima County.
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