Original Article | Updated 4:02 AM ET, Sat February 4, 2023
Kingman, Arizona (CNN) – Driving along county roads that are little more than dirt paths, Tim Walsh remarked that the expansive valley below the Long Mountain range used to be no more than tumbleweeds and scraggly cactuses.
Now, it’s pistachio trees as far as the eye can see.
Far from mature, the pistachio saplings are just a few feet tall. The trees were planted for “miles and miles, clear up to the base of the mountain,” said Walsh, a lifelong Kingman resident and head of Mohave County’s Department of Development Services.
Over the past decade, the vast desert area around the 33,000-person city of Kingman has been transformed into an agricultural enclave. Green alfalfa fields were first planted below the mountains, then eventually replaced with thirsty pistachio trees.
But as those farms grow, county and city officials fear the groundwater — their only source of water — is not capable of supporting farms of this size, especially amid the Southwest’s multi-year drought.