Arizona Land and Water Trust recently partnered with owners of the Babacomari Ranch to permanently protect 2,488 acres of the historic cattle ranch. Conservation of this ranch sustains its rich historical and cultural legacy, preserves habitat for wildlife and ensures the land will remain a working landscape for generations to come.
“The Brophy family is determined to maintain the incredibly resource-rich Babacomari Ranch for generations to come,” said Ben Brophy, part-owner of the Babacomari Ranch. “We believe the open space, agriculturally productive rangelands, abundant wildlife and habitat should be improved and never diminished. Our family is grateful for the leadership of Arizona Land and Water Trust in protecting working ranches and assisting families like ours to meet our stewardship aspirations.”
The roughly 28,000-acre Babacomari Ranch in the Sonoita region south of Tucson and was established through a Mexican Land Grant in 1832. In 1935, Frank Cullen Brophy acquired the property, becoming the third owner of the historic ranch. The ranch has been a family-owned and operated cattle ranch ever since. Babacomari’s exceptionally scenic western landscape includes rolling desert grasslands and woodlands with views of mountain ranges in nearly every direction.
“We are extremely proud to partner with the Brophy family to honor and secure their longtime heritage in the region and protect the extraordinary landscapes, abundant wildlife, water resources and rich rangelands that are found on the Babacomari Ranch,” said Liz Petterson, Executive Director of the Trust.
The ranch is an important wildlife migratory corridor linking the Mustang and Huachuca Mountains. The surrounding landscape is proposed critical habitat for the jaguar and potential habitat for pronghorn antelope, Chiricahua leopard frog and other sensitive species, thanks to the Trust’s larger conservation efforts in the region. The property also includes rare Cienega wetlands and miles of cottonwood-lined riparian ecosystems along the Babocomari Creek, a tributary of the San Pedro River.
Funding for this project was provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program focused on protecting Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance and the Department of Defense’s Readiness Environmental Protection Integration Program. This is the first time these two programs have been combined in Arizona, working toward the mutual goals to promote and sustain local agriculture and other compatible land uses in a manner that also protects the military testing and training needs of nearby Fort Huachuca.
“This project is a great example of the environmental benefits of our Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, while also supporting our country’s military readiness,” said Keisha Tatem, NRCS state conservationist for Arizona. “Innovative partnerships and projects like this add a whole new meaning when we talk about protecting the land for future generations.”
“I have watched the surrounding area become a patchwork quilt of mish-mash development and growth. Conservation easements are enhancing the landscape and natural wildlife and resources of Southern Arizona by protecting it from rapid development,” explained Anne McChesney Gibson, Brophy family member.
A conservation easement is a voluntary restriction on future non-agricultural development. Each easement is individually tailored to meet the needs of the landowner and their goals for the property. To date, the Trust holds more than 16,600 acres of conservation easements throughout Southern Arizona and has protected more than 53,500 acres since 1978 with our landowner partners.