Yavapai County, Arizona
Yavapai County, one of the state’s oldest counties, was among the original four created when Arizona was still a territory. Although Yavapai County originally encompassed more than 65,000 square miles, it now covers only 8,125 square miles, but is still as large as the state of New Jersey. It was called the “Mother of Counties,” from which Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa and Navajo counties were all formed.
The provisional seat of the territorial government was established at Fort Whipple in Chino Valley on Jan. 22, 1864. Nine months later it was moved 20 miles away to a little mining community named Prescott. In 1867, -the capital was moved to Tucson where it remained for 10 years. Then the capital was shifted back to Prescott, where it remained until 1889, when it was permanently relocated to Phoenix.
Yavapai County offers many local attractions ranging from natural to cultural to educational. Scenic pine forests provide year-round recreational opportunities, and museums, monuments and rodeos reflect Arizona’s tribal and territorial past. Institutions of higher learning include two colleges and an aeronautical university. The county has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, with the population up by more than 30 percent since 1990. Some unincorporated areas in Yavapai County and the central area in the City of Prescott has been designated as an Enterprise Zone. In addition, parts of Chino Valley, Camp Verde and Prescott Valley have been designated as an Enterprise Zone.
The U.S. Forest Service owns 38 percent of the land in Yavapai County, including portions of Prescott, Tonto and Coconino national forests, while the state of Arizona owns an additional 24.6 percent. Twenty-five percent is individually or corporately owned, and 11.6 percent is the property of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Yavapal Indian Reservation and public lands each occupy less than 0.5 percent of the county.
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