Bear Creek

Bear Creek in the Gila National Forest, New MexicoPhoto credit: USFS/John Baumberger

At more than 3.3 million acres, the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico is the sixth largest national forest in the Lower 48. It’s also an important habitat in arid New Mexico, providing a healthy watershed home to many of the state’s native plants and animals.

In a two-phase project with milestones in 2010 and 2016, The Trust for Public Land, together with the United States Forest Service, protected 1900 acres along Bear Creek, one of the largest inholdings in Gila National Forest. Conserving this property, which includes eight miles of an important tributary to the Gila River, preserves the forest’s ecological integrity while safeguarding the water supply for communities downstream.

The property also contains a mile of the Continental Divide Trail corridor, a National Scenic Trail that stretches from southern New Mexico to the Canadian border. The trail is currently routed on a road through this area, but the Forest Service now hopes to build a new section of footpath away from the road to improve visitor experience.

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.