Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter In The Arizona Mountains

Last week winter arrived in the Arizona Mountains. In the valleys the 5-day storm dumped mostly rain--pouring rain filled the washes and added much needed moisture. Water of course is the lifeblood everywhere in the West...But is particularly precious in the desert where the (hoped for) average annual precipitation hovers somewhere between 10 and 15-inches.
Staghorn Cholla fruit peeks out from under a rare snowy blanket.

I posted this recently on Facebook--ChuckRobbins-Outdoors--An attempted artsy
 fartsy rendition of a vast grasslands once part of the sprawling Empire Ranch
 (now part of the LasCienegas National Conservation Area) and the
 snow-splashed Whetstone Mountains.
Once facing an uncertain future that almost certainly included housing and commercial development, today more than 45,000 acres of rolling grasslands and woodlands in Arizona’s Pima and Santa Cruz counties are protected as a National Conservation Area.  The region’s rolling grasslands, oak-studded hills that connect several “sky island” mountain ranges, and lush riparian corridors are irresistible to both people and wildlife. Cienega Creek, with its perennial flow and lush riparian corridor, forms the lifeblood of the NCA and supports a diverse plant and animal community.  

Thanks to the efforts of local governments, elected officials and the public, the Empire and Cienega ranches, along with portions of the adjacent Rose Tree and Vera Earl ranches, are now under public ownership and managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the principles of multiple-use and ecosystem management for future generations to use and enjoy.  The BLM has formed a partnership with the nonprofit Empire Ranch Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the historic buildings and surrounding landscapes.