Arizona Land and Water Trust recently protected the 2,190-acre Tombstone Ranch in Cochise County. The project permanently conserves native grasslands, water resources that provide critical wildlife habitat to a multitude of species and also provides public hunting access to the property.
The Tombstone Ranch was part of the historic 4-Bar Cowan Ranch that spanned much of the Whitewater Draw valley, southeast of the town of Tombstone, and is currently used for cattle ranching. This project was a result of key partnerships with the landowner, Arizona Game and Fish Department, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever and Arizona Community Foundation of Cochise.
“The Trust is thrilled to continue our longtime focus of protecting unique working landscapes and critical water resources like those found within the Whitewater Draw and Sulphur Springs Valley,” said Liz Petterson, Executive Director with Arizona Land and Water Trust. “This project is yet another example of the critical importance of partnerships, ranging from federal and state agencies to local organizations and community foundations — working together to accomplish significant land and water conservation.”
Expanding upon other landscapes protected by the Trust, the addition of the Tombstone Ranch easement protects nearly 5,000 acres of the Whitewater Draw, a popular destination for thousands of bird-watchers every year and helps support the local economy.
The conservation of the ranch will also prevent additional groundwater pumping on the property. For species like the popular Sandhill cranes, Gambel and Scaled quail, Mourning and White-wing dove, Mallard, Pintail, Gadwall, Wilson snipe and Mexican duck, this groundwater protection is critical.
“Quail Forever is excited to partner with Arizona Land and Water Trust, Arizona Game and Fish, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, a couple of conservation-minded landowners and several other outstanding organizations to complete the first-ever conservation easement that included a clause to allow public access for hunters in perpetuity,” said Al Eiden, West Region Director, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. “This project was such a unique opportunity to conserve critical grassland habitat for wildlife, manage those rangelands in a sustainable way and provide the public the opportunity to recreate responsibly on the property. A true win, win, win project.”
In addition to providing critical wildlife habitat, the property provides habitat to several species of Greatest Conservation Need, as identified by Arizona Game & Fish Department, including the Lesser long-nosed bat, Chiricahua leopard frog and Bald eagle.
“The Arizona Game and Fish Department is extremely excited to have worked with all of these great partners to protect this important wildlife habitat and secure recreational hunting access in perpetuity,” Kyle Dutro, Landowner Relations Program Coordinator with Arizona Game and Fish Department, added.
Together with its supporters, landowner and funding partners, Arizona Land and Water Trust has now protected more than 56,000 acres throughout Southern Arizona since 1978.
Arizona Land and Water Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to the protection of Southern Arizona’s western landscapes, its heritage of working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat and the water that sustains them. It is accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance and won the Alliance’s National Land Trust Excellence Award in 2016. For more information about the Trust, visit the Trust’s website at http://alwt.org.