Article published in the Arizona Daily Star on March 5, 2008

An Oasis in Southeastern Arizona

795-Acre Purchase Protects Historic Salero Ranch Property from Subdivision and Development

Santa Cruz County, Arizona, – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), First United Realty, Inc., Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the permanent protection of 795 acres in Santa Cruz County. This is the third and final purchase in a multi-year effort to conserve ecologically significant portions of the historic Salero Ranch.

This property is located in Ash Canyon, just two miles upstream from Patagonia Lake State Park. It will be managed for wildlife habitat by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in cooperation with Arizona State Parks as a part of the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. The land will provide hiking, bird watching, hunting and camping opportunities for visitors.

This acquisition expands protection of the watershed in an important tributary to Sonoita Creek. The property contains a portion of Ash Canyon, a drainage to Patagonia Lake, and several springs. The largest, called George Wise Spring, contains perennial ponds and riparian forest.

The property was once part of the 20,000-acre Salero Ranch, which is currently being subdivided and developed as home sites. This acquisition from First United Realty and the John Hudson family completes a three-phase, 4,300-acre transaction. The total market value for the three phases is $8.25 million, including a $1.5 million land value donation by the sellers that substantially reduced the price paid by Arizona Game and Fish and its partners.

“The property provides habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species, including the Gila topminnow, Mexican spotted owl and lesser long-nosed bat, and the rare western yellow-billed cuckoo,” said Doug Duncan, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Tucson. “The agencies will consider restoring the springs for native fish including the Gila topminnow.”

“First United Realty, working closely with the Trust for Public Land and Arizona Game and Fish Department, is happy to help protect this undisturbed natural area for future generations to enjoy,” said Ross Wilson, vice president of First United Realty.

“Sonoita Creek has been a focus area for The Trust for Public Land for nearly five years,” said Paul Audley, Arizona State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “Its water, habitat, and recreational resources made it a priority landscape whose protection will benefit people and wildlife for generations to come.”

“We are excited about the ability to purchase this additional habitat for threatened and endangered species”, said Bob Broscheid of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.“Our partnerships with The Trust for Public Land, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Arizona State Parks are enabling this project to proceed. This would not be possible without the landowners willingness to partner.”

Funding for this latest $2.25 million purchase was provided by Arizona Game and Fish through the Arizona Heritage Fund, created by voter initiative in 1990 to support the protection of wildlife habitat and state parklands with Arizona lottery revenues; and through a federal grant provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund’s Recovery Land Acquisition grant program.