Trail Access to Coconino National Forest Protected

January 17, 2012
Flagstaff

The final phase of the 139-acre Packard Ranch property has been protected, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced today. TPL sold the final 47 acres, located at the confluence of the Verde River and Sycamore Creek and including the site of the historic Packard Ranch, to the Coconino National Forest.

"The Packard Ranch property is a true Arizona jewel, and TPL is very pleased to have permanently conserved this unique and critical property to benefit future generations of Arizonans through our partnership with the Prescott and Coconino National Forests" said Jason Corzine, Southwest Program Director for The Trust for Public Land.

Ken Simeral of Prescott National Forest agreed, saying "The Forests are very excited to have this special piece of property under our care. It is rare opportunity when the public can acquire property at the confluence of two flowing streams in Arizona."

The Forest Service acquired the Packard Ranch to improve public access, recreation, and wildlife habitat protection. The acquisition ensures permanent public access to the Packard and Parsons hiking trailheads, located on the Packard Ranch property and leading into the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.

TPL sold the final phase of the property to the Forest Service on Dec. 28 for less than the land's appraised value. The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provided the bulk of the money. LWCF, the federal government's main source of funding for buying public land, is funded by royalties from energy companies, paid in exchange for oil and gas extraction from federal offshore leases, and not taxpayer dollars. The balance of the purchase price was covered by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation awarded through The Nature Conservancy.

The acquisition is also crucial in protecting the rare desert riparian areas at the juncture of the Verde River and Sycamore Creek and which provide habitat for several endangered and threatened fish species.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. The Trust for Public Land is the nation's leader in creating parks and playgrounds in our cities, and also is the national leader in helping local communities creating funding for conservation. In Arizona, TPL has conserved more than 250,000 acres, including land in the Aqua Fria National Monument.