Coal Mine Canyon Protection Complete (AZ)

Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 7/28/06:The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the permanent protection of 874 acres of ranchland in Santa Cruz County. The property, valued at $2.25 million, lies in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains and was part of the historic 20,000-acre Salero Ranch that is currently being subdivided and sold as 40-acre ranchettes. Conservation of the property prevents residential development of this area. The property will be managed for threatened and endangered species habitat by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in cooperation with Arizona State Parks.

This acquisition of this final piece of Coal Mine Canyon follows the protection by TPL, AGFD, and USFWS, of an initial 2,629 acres in 2004, and completes preservation of the watershed in an important tributary to Sonoita Creek. This watershed has been a focus of public and private conservation efforts in recent years because of its importance as wildlife habitat. Spring-fed pools in the canyon are home to one of the largest known populations of the federally-listed endangered Gila topminnow, making this acquisition a key component for recovery of the species.

“The watershed that includes Coal Mine Canyon is one of the best remaining natural Gila topminnow sites,” said Doug Duncan, fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Tucson. “Acquiring this property, from a willing seller, helps protect the critically important native fish that rely on Coal Mine Canyon and its interconnecting waterways.” The property will also provide habitat for the lesser long-nosed bat, Mexican spotted owl and the western yellow-billed cuckoo.

“This property is an important addition to a growing network of protected lands that benefit both wildlife and people through ownership by Arizona Game and Fish and management by Arizona State Parks,” said Shauna Kerr, Arizona State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “TPL looks forward to further collaboration with landowners, and local, state, and federal partners to find more win-win land conservation solutions for our state.”

Funding for this 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 Recovery Land Acquisition grant program, authorized under Section 6 of the federal Endangered Species Act.

“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.”

“We are proud to continue our relationship with the Trust for Public Land and the Arizona Game and Fish Department,” said landowner Ross Wilson of First United Realty. “Our partnership demonstrates the positive results in protecting sensitive lands through successful public/private endeavors. On behalf of the Hudson family and our company, we appreciate the opportunity to help provide and protect natural areas for future generations.”

The newly acquired property is adjacent to the 5,000-acre Sonoita Creek State Natural Area which is owned by Arizona State Parks. Under an innovative cooperative agreement between the two state agencies, the newly protected lands will be managed by Arizona State Parks as part of the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area and will provide hiking, bird watching, hunting and camping opportunities for visitors.

?The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For information, please visit us on the web at