A Sign of the Times – Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance

Reprinted by permission of the Patagonia Regional Times, Marion Vendituoli

The Town of Patagonia and the Sky Islands Tourism Association have teamed up with the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance (SCVHA) to create and install a 4’ x 3’ sign in front of the Patagonia Town Hall, identifying and promoting local areas of interest. SCVHA is the “local coordinating entity” for the Santa Cruz Valley Natural Heritage Area (SCVNHA).

(From left) Linda Shore, President of Sky Islands Tourism Assn., Robert Miranda, Board member, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance (SCVHA), Kathy McMahon, Marketing and Communication Manager, SCVHA, Mary Dahl, Board President, SCVHA, Debby Robinson, and Patagonia Town Manager Ron Robinson at the unveiling of the new wayfinding sign in Patagonia.

The sign features a map of the SCVNHA, which covers 3300 square miles, stretching from the San Rafael Valley north on both sides of the Santa Rita Mountains into Pinal County. Several local areas of interest are identified on the map, including historical sites, birding centers, recreation areas, wineries, museums, and shopping opportunities.

Other sections of the sign describe the Sky Islands surrounding Patagonia, the Santa Cruz River, bird habitats, farming and ranching in the region, and local mining history. There is also a QR code on the map that, when downloaded, provides an audio driving tour of the Las Cienegas area north of Sonoita.

“We want to inform people and inspire them to promote stewardship,” Kathy McMahon, Communications and Marketing Manager for SCVHA.

“We connect people to the historical and cultural foundations and the living landscape of the Santa Cruz Valley and actively work towards its long-term stewardship,” according to the website. “The SCVNHA honors and celebrates the natural environment, cultural traditions, historic places, and working landscapes of the watershed of the Santa Cruz River in Pima and Santa Cruz counties.”

The Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area was created through a collaboration between local residents and the National Park Service. It is a “Community-based development that preserves important resources, promotes a sense of place, and provides new economic opportunities,” according to the organization’s website.

The Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area (NHA) is one of only 62 NHAs across the United States and is one of two in Arizona. NHAs are not national parks and do not affect private property rights or local zoning. They do focus attention on a region’s unique history while promoting tourism and economic development.