Cross F Ranch
Differences in rainfall and temperature between mountains and valleys make the Sky Islands, a remote region of southern Arizona, one of the most diverse ecosystems on the continent. But the roads that hikers, equestrians, and hunters used to reach this unique wilderness traverse a private ranch, the Cross F. The longtime owners left their gates unlocked, allowing the public to get across their ranch en route to the public land beyond. When the ranch changed hands and the new owners exercised their rights to keep their ranch roads closed. Seemingly overnight, everyone else who’d gotten to know and love this wild landscape—lost access to about 40,000 acres of public land.
Unfortunately, Cross F isn’t an isolated case. Arizona Game and Fish reports that access to over 4 million acres of public land in the state is blocked by locked gates or “No Trespassing” signs. Throughout the West, nearly 16 million acres owned by the American people and managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and state governments are inaccessible to the taxpayers who fund their maintenance. That’s why the Trust for Public Land worked with the landowner to acquire the ranch and transfer ownership to the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. It’s the latest in our years-long efforts to improve access to the outdoors in the Sky Islands, and protect important wildlife habitats.