In March, we wrote the Nogales International (NI) a letter, ‘Enough of South32’s Tokens,’ about our public officials bending over backwards to assist any form of development in our County. At that time it appeared the negative impacts would accrue to the east side of Santa Cruz County while the west may have thought it would benefit from South32’s largesse. But how quickly the script has changed, with the rapid approval process for Rio Rico/I-19 Economic Development Corridor recently outlined by the NI article, “Rezoning battle continues in Rio Rico.” Approval would open a large swath of Rio Rico and the Santa Cruz River area to industrial development.

Citizens have not been told the name of the company developer that Andrew Jackson expects to partner with, but South32 sort of denies it’s them (South32 president: ‘Setting the record straight on mining co’s plans in Rio Rico’). What IS promised is a better community with good jobs aplenty.

We compliment the Nogales International, Patagonia Regional Times, and now the Tucson Sentinel, as well as Patagonia Area Resource Alliance (PARA) who have been covering the unfolding South32 development story.

And PARA has not only been covering it; they have been trying to get the State of Arizona to follow their own water quality regulations regarding mining development in the Patagonia Mountains. Their efforts alone have cost $242,900 to date and may take another $60,000 to $100,000 in the remainder of 2023 for which they need donations.

And we compliment the individual citizens showing up at numerous public meetings, only to watch their elected officials politely listen and then make decisions that incorporate none of their concerns. “Trust us, we know what is best for you and the County.” It is clear that our County leadership wants economic development at any cost.

What’s next? The answer is clear: none of us know. We have watched communities throughout the US west get bamboozled by development of all forms. Here’s what we DO know – citizens will always be behind the 8-ball and need to organize and fight for
their communities.

It’s time to act:

  • Join the newly formed opposition to the current proposal, SC County Advocates for Sustainable Development, active on Facebook. And do it right away. Things are happening fast.
  • Support PARA with the LARGEST donation you can afford. They are currently the only group keeping an eye on the mining proposals around Patagonia.
  • Support your local newspapers by subscribing. With our financial support they can cover meetings we can’t get to.
  • Submit Public Records Requests to the County. Some critical information is only available if you ask for it.
  • Tell our County Supervisors to get IN WRITING all the promises that developers make.
  • Consider a referendum, should the County decide to pass the Comprehensive Plan amendments and Rezoning. Both are legislative acts and may be subject to a citizen referendum.
  • Finally, this development proposal on the West side, coupled with the events on the East side, should make us realize we are in this together. Whether it is South32 or Barksdale or another large entity promising economic development with low to no
    impact, we are the ones left to feel the effects on ourselves and our communities.