The Pusch Ridge Wilderness is located in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness north of Tucson, Arizona. Where the Bighorn Sheep Management Area and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness overlap there are restrictions on dogs and off-trail travel to help protect the recently re-introduced Bighorn Sheep.
The Pusch Ridge Wilderness is named for George Pusch who, along with Johann Zellweger, established the Steam Pump Ranch in 1874. The ranch is located in what is now Oro Valley and is preserved as the Oro Valley Steam Pump Ranch Site. The Oro Valley Historical Society has several great documents on the History of the Steam Pump Ranch and the Pusch Family History.
The first formal proposal for the Pusch Ridge Wilderness that I can find reference to is a proposal by Robert Hernbrode that was submitted to the Forest Service in 1969 triggered by an inquiry to the Forest Service by Bruce Stratton about the possibility of a tram from the end of Alvernon to the top of Mount Kimball.
While the Forest Service planning for the Santa Catalina Mountains didn’t recommend Pusch Ridge for Wilderness status the idea had enough support that in June of 1976 Arizona Representative Morris K. Udall submitted a bill that proposed the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and a number of other Wilderness areas across the west.
Udall’s bill became ‘The Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978’, Public Law 95-237, was passed in 1978.
‘Catalina Wilderness Area Proposed’, Arizona Daily Star, 10/5/1969, p. 24, Pete Cowgill
Dedicated Santa Catalina hikers may know the name Herbrode from ‘Hernrode’s Tank’ on Table Mountain. A long time Arizona Game and Fish employee he worked from 1962 to 1967 as the Wildlife Manager in Unit 33 which covers the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains. In 1966 Hernbrode coordinated the installation of the 20′ tank which was flown to Table Mountain on 7/12/1966 (several days before a similar tank was accidentally dropped into the desert before before reaching Table Mountain!). Hernbrode’s idea was that a lack of water was forcing Bighorn lower on the mountain making them easier targets for hunters and poachers and potentially putting extra stress on the lambs – the tank and surrounding infrastructure were designed to provide year round water for the Bighorn.
‘Bighorns’ Water Tank Delivered by Copter’, Arizona Daily Star, 7/13/1966, p. 21, Ken Burton
”Project Bighorn Sheep’ Falls into Sandy ‘Swale”, Arizona Daily Star, 7/10/1966, p. 5, Ken Burton
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