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  • Congressman to help celebrate National Heritage Area designation

    May 02, 2019 | Read More News
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    Congressman Raúl Grijalva will speak at a May 4 event at Green Valley’s Historic Canoa Ranch celebrating the Congressional designation of the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area focused on the Santa Cruz River from the Mexico border north to Pima County. The event begins at 9 a.m. and will include tours of the ranch, where Grijalva grew up.

    The event recognizes the years of dedicated work by the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, the enduring support from Congressman Raúl Grijalva, and the dozens of community partners who endorsed this legislation over the years. Also speaking at the event is Vanessa Bechtol, board president of the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance and senior director of community partnerships with Visit Tucson

    Anyone wishing to attend can RSVP here or via the Facebook event page.

    Pima County has been an active partner along with Visit Tucson in the broad coalition of governments, conservations groups and others to establish the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. Specifically, the area encompasses the watershed of the Santa Cruz River, from Nogales and Patagonia, to Tucson, Marana and Oro Valley.

    On March 12, President Trump signed into law a sweeping public lands package (S.47) that includes designation of the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area and recognizes the Heritage Alliance as the Local Coordinating Entity. 
    “Our efforts to protect the unique cultural and natural resources of 3,300 square miles of the Santa Cruz River Valley are going to pay off in an economic return to everyone in the region,” said Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elías. “This heritage area should help to protect our way of life and improve our economic vitality into the future. Kudos to Congressman Grijalva, who doggedly has promoted this legislation since 2007.”

    Raúl Grijalva
    “Our efforts to protect the unique cultural and natural resources of 3,300 square miles of the Santa Cruz River Valley are going to pay off in an economic return to everyone in the region,” said Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elías. “This heritage area should help to protect our way of life and improve our economic vitality into the future. Kudos to Congressman Grijalva, who doggedly has promoted this legislation since 2007.”

    According to the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, the designation will "include both economic and non-economic benefits. The proposed Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area will provide a framework for heritage-based economic development, including tourism-related increases in local jobs, business incomes, and tax revenues. There is a growing interest in the National Heritage Areas because of its proven success as a regional economic development strategy."

    Linda Mayro, director of the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation, said the County has worked for more than a decade with the Alliance to make the designation a reality. 
"The designation of the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area is a definite honor for the region and a wonderful outcome after 15 years of support by Pima County and every jurisdiction and tribal nation in the Santa Cruz Valley," she said.

    “With the rich diversity of cultural, historic, natural, and recreational resources available here in the Santa Cruz Valley, we have a tremendous opportunity to promote these resources and educate the community about our shared heritage,” Bechtol said. “In doing so, we can stimulate regional economic development by not only attracting tourists’ dollars to the region, but also by encouraging residents to visit these heritage destinations.”


    Among the partners who came together to push for the designation were: Visit Tucson, the Arizona Office of Tourism, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, (now Sun Corridor, Inc.) various chambers of commerce, Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, every state and state park and land manager in the region, museums and historical societies, non-profits organizations, ranchers and farmers and many more.

    Diane Frisch, director of Pima County’s Attractions and Tourism Office, said she plans to work with Visit Tucson to market the Heritage Area regionally and nationally.

    “We want to leverage this national designation by promoting suggested itineraries that tell the story of the National Heritage Area, and collaborate with tour operators to continue to bring  additional national and international media and visitors to our region.”