Having already preserved nearly 1,000 acres of land for the free movement of wildlife that was formerly slated for residential development, Wildlife Corridors LLC (WC) wants to preserve at least another 500 acres of land, and thanks to a $615,000 grant from the US Forest Service (FS), the company will be able to reach that goal.
The grant funds come from the Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program and will flow through the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM). The grant will enable WC to place still more of the foreclosed Three Canyons subdivision, which it purchased in 2015, in the conservation easement and to purchase and set aside additional land currently platted for residential development.
All of the lands targeted by WC for preservation lie within the 20-square-mile Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor (WCSC) that stretches from the Santa Rita Mountains to the Huachuca Mountains and is part of one of the most biologically diverse regions in the Western U.S. The WCSC is home to several threatened or endangered species such as the yellow billed cuckoo, Gila topminnow and Chiricahua leopard frog and is federally-designated as jaguar critical habitat.
WC has requested the Town of Patagonia to partner with it in this project by helping to draft a conservation easement to cover the newly-acquired acreage and possibly to hold the easement under an arrangement in which the local nonprofit Borderlands Restoration Network would conduct the annual monitoring activities required by the FS and DFFM. At its July 22 meeting the town council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the project.
Ron Pulliam, WC’s Managing Partner, pointed out that this project will help protect the town’s future water supply in addition to providing opportunities for Patagonia residents and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of these unspoiled lands while protecting native flora and fauna.
Wildlife Corridors has been approved to receive a second round of Forest Legacy funds amounting to $475,000 which, if funded, will be used to protect still more land threatened by residential and commercial development.