Size: 1,451 acres
Location: Grant County
Eco-Region: Chihuahua Desert
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Conservation Easement
Date Completed: January 2018
In terms of conservation values now protected in perpetuity, the 1,451-acre Sufi-Bear Creek conservation easement was truly a grand slam! Not only does the property provide outstanding fish and wildlife habitat, it also manifests valuable agricultural, cultural and scenic values.
Fish and Wildlife Habitat Values: Common black hawks, Chiricahua leopard frogs and Arizona sycamores paint the scene for this three-mile long matrix of riparian and floodplain habitat along Bear Creek. Surveys orchestrated by New Mexico Game & Fish indicate that 43 “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN), of which 29 were documented along the Bear Creek corridor, are thought to benefit from the valuable habitat associated with the riparian-floodplain corridor and associated Madrean pinyon-juniper and Mogollon chaparral upland habitats.
Cultural Conservation Values: Once home to the Avery family, these early ranchers of Grant County recognized the productive springs and perennial nature of Bear Creek stream flows through this property. Their homestead still stands and has been incorporated as a common meeting place for the Southwest Sufi Community. In addition to the Avery family, the year-round water availability of this tributary to the Gila River attracted many earlier cultures as is evidenced by the abundance of artifacts littered across the property.
Scenic Open Space and Natural Habitat Conservation Values: The rich upland habitat and scenic open space associated with this unique property dovetails into the adjacent Gila National Forest, further protecting this large expanse of unfragmented habitat.
Agricultural Conservation Values: Historically grazed, the Southwest Sufi Community currently utilizes the irrigated lands on this property to produce heirloom vegetable seeds. These types of agricultural endeavors are much more likely to persist under a conservation easement now that this unique property is protected from further subdivision and development.
Through Vision and Hard Work
The success of this conservation easement would not have been possible without the vision and hard work of the Southwest Sufi Community. Permanently protecting this property and its natural and cultural values is a logical and complementary extension of the property’s current function as a spiritual retreat.
We would also like to thank the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the NM Office of Natural Resources (NMONRT) Trustee for facilitating the funding required to bring this project to fruition.