Area: EASTERN ARIZONA
CE Size: 33,121 acres total (in 4 phases)
Location: Cochise County, AZ
Eco-Region: Semi-arid desert grasslands at the convergence of temperate and subtropical regions in the desert southwest.
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Historic and Cultural, Scenic Open Space, Natural and Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: July 2017 & June 2018; 2022 & 2023
Read our Story from NMLC’s Fall/Winter 2020 Magazine: This Rancher is ‘All in’ When it Comes to Wildlife
Cienega Ranch: Building a Conservation Legacy in Southeast Arizona
Placing properties under a conservation easement is always a satisfying feeling knowing that our children and grandchildren will also get to experience the relatively unaltered landscape and associated scenic vistas, cultural resources, agriculture, and wildlife values that go along with that protection. It is even more satisfying when a landowner like Josiah Austin of the Cienega Ranch, expands the size of that conservation footprint by reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of his conservation easement back into the purchase of adjacent lands.
Josiah’s vision and 25 years of conservation efforts on the Cienega Ranch include not only the purchase of adjacent lands to increase the amount of unfragmented lands, but also include removal of fences, extensive watershed restoration, reintroduction of native species, improved soil and plant health through a “lighter footprint” of grazing rotation and long periods of pasture rest, as well as the dispersal of water drinkers across the ranch for both, livestock and wildlife. Josiah is constantly working on the full suite of conservation measures across his ranch.
In 2018, New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) in conjunction with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) worked with Josiah to complete a conservation easement across 13,200 acres of the Dos Cabezas Mountains in the Sky Island Region. This is in addition to 6,043 acres NMLC and TPL placed under a conservation easement in 2017 on the Cienega Ranch. Now these 19,243 acres will be permanently protected from subdivision and development and will remain open grasslands, including the 31 land parcels and the 56 lots slated for development that Josiah was able to reassemble into the integrity of a viable working ranch. Stay tuned for Josiah’s next conservation successes in this important landscape.