Arizona Land and Water Trust announced that it has successfully acquired 371 acres, Phase I and II, of its strategic campaign to purchase and protect the Sopori Creek and Farm in Amado, a unique area with rare grandfathered-water rights, irrigated farmland, a rich biotic community and a storied history.
With $2.96 million raised to date for the campaign, over the next three years, the trust will raise a total of $8 million to purchase a total of 1,310 acres of Sopori Creek and Farm and help develop an Agricultural Apprenticeship Program on site.
The Sopori Creek and Farm property lies amidst nearly 20,000 acres of protected priority conservation lands, the majority protected through the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. The project property offers an array of unique conservation resources in one area, including a rare shallow groundwater system, irrigated land, wildlife habitat and corridors, cultural resources, drainage, and accessibility to farmland. The initial purchase of 371 acres includes one mile of Sopori Creek, a major tributary of the Santa Cruz River that feeds the Tucson basin.
According to the trust’s Executive Director Liz Petterson, ”Protecting Sopori Creek and Farm’s rich resources and history is a priority for Arizona Land and Water Trust – the only conservation organization in Southern Arizona with over 40 years’ experience solely facilitating agreements with private landowners to advance protection of western landscapes and waters.”
Petterson added that this strategic plan expands on previous investments and magnifies conservation value. “This initial purchase complements the Trust’s ownership of 2,550 acres of the Sopori Ranch and will help create a larger conservation area eastward from Sopori Creek to the Santa Cruz River.”
Sopori Creek and Farm is considered a “conservation linchpin” because it advances a link between the Santa Cruz River to 54,000 acres of working landscape, protected by Pima County’s SDCP.
Located just 30 minutes south of downtown Tucson, Sopori Creek and Farm is positioned to become a nationally recognized center for sustainable land use practices, with the trust envisioning an Agricultural Apprenticeship Center on site for ranchers and farmers to address the challenges of climate change, drought, affordable access to land and land succession.
Arizona Land and Water Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to protecting Southern Arizona’s western landscapes, its heritage of working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat and the water that sustains them. Arizona Land and Water Trust, in collaboration with supporters, landowners and funding partners, has now protected more than 59,000 acres throughout Southern Arizona since 1978. The organization is accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance and won the Alliance’s National Land Trust Excellence Award in 2016.