Justin McEldowney and Alex Johnson inspect the kiosk which they fabricated and donated to orient visitors to the new Borderlands Wildlife Preserve. Photo by Bob Brandt

Wildlife Corridors, LLC (WC) recently renamed the area set aside to be preserved in its natural state the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve. They have also expanded it by 72 acres by purchasing part of the adjacent Lazy RR Ranch property in Casa Blanca Canyon.

Wildlife Corridors’ mission is to demonstrate that for-profit companies can work with nonprofit entities to save and restore threatened natural landscapes. It recently initiated a process to plan for responsible recreational use of the preserve, anticipating an increase in visitors as word gets out.

In partnership with Borderlands Restoration Network, WC has engaged the services of Terence Wu, an environmental design specialist from California, to develop a plan for creating a reception area at the current entrance to the preserve as well as at the newly acquired acreage in Casa Blanca Canyon.

WC has installed a new kiosk just off Route 82 on Tanglehead Drive that offers maps of the preserve, the local area and the region to show how the preserve fits into the larger Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor. Eventually, the kiosk will feature a parking area, visitor sign-in station, brochures on local flora and fauna, a picnic table, interpretive signage and guidelines for respectful use of the facilities and landscape.

One of the main attractions of the preserve is the two-mile Smith Canyon Loop Trail, completed two years ago by the group of volunteers known as the Dirtbags.

The trail has recently been expanded to include an extension that links the main trail with a road running from the trailhead parking area to Casa Blanca Canyon. Eventually, the trail system should connect with the planned reroute of the Arizona Trail which is expected to run across the northern part of the preserve. (See related story on page 1.)

In an effort to contribute to both the region’s database and the enjoyment of visitors, WC is also organizing a team of volunteers that will review, organize and report on the animals that visit the three wildlife watering stations in Smith Canyon.

Thousands of time and date-stamped photos have been captured by cameras adjacent to each dripper over the past few years. Along with the images that will continue to be taken, they will help wildlife biologists, environmental organizations and others to better understand the behavioral patterns and frequency with which species visit the drippers.

Just off the Smith Canyon trail, benches have been installed on the ridge overlooking two of the drippers where visitors can enjoy the views and possibly watch for animals that may come for a drink.

Another major change taking place near the preserve this spring is the building of the first house in Wildlife Haven, the smaller residential neighborhood that has replaced the original 189-lot Three Canyons development.

Wildlife Corridors is selling 24 lots which, added to 16 lots sold before WC acquired the property, make up the 40-lot Wildlife Haven residential area. Wildlife Corridors retained the 40-lot residential area as the vehicle for generating the funds necessary to support
maintenance of the preserve.

While WC members have purchased many of the lots and plan to keep some of them undeveloped, a few lots are still available for purchase. A property owners association has been formed and its design committee ensures adherence to the design guidelines, which generally require buildings to blend well with the natural landscape and preserve natural resources.

Interested individuals seeking more information about the preserve, the subdivision or Wildlife Corridors, LLC may call 706-621-0166 or 703-615-8002