4,265 Acres Purchased In Petrified Forest National Park

January 31, 2013

Petrified Forest National Park Chinle Formation

Chinle Formation at Petrified Forest National Park. Photo by Andrew Kearns/National Park Service

The Conservation Fund and National Parks Conservation Association Protect Significant Prehistoric Lands within Park Boundary.  

Holbrook, Ariz. — Today, The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), purchased 4,265 acres within the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP) boundary. Located in a unique stretch of northeast Arizona, where visitors can see petrified trees that have turned completely into stone during the last 225 million years, the conserved land will enhance protection for the area’s Late Triassic resources and eventually expand opportunities for new scientific discoveries. The Conservation Fund will temporarily hold and protect the land until it can be purchased and transferred to the National Park Service later this year.

Known as the McCauley Ranch, the acquired acreage lies east of the historic remains of Puerco Pueblo and will connect lands already protected within PFNP. The protection of this land will preserve the natural viewshed that visitors experience as they drive on the main road through the park.

A substantial contribution from NPCA made today’s land purchase possible. This project marks the latest achievement of a decade-old partnership between the National Park Service, The Conservation Fund and NPCA.

“This is another important milestone in the National Park Service’s joint effort with our partners to protect the rich natural and cultural landscape in and around Petrified Forest National Park,” said Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “By acquiring the McCauley Ranch, our partners at The Conservation Fund and the National Parks Conservation Association have taken another important step toward fulfilling the vision enshrined by Congress in the Petrified Forest Expansion Act of 2004—we expect to be able to buy this significant acreage for the American people later this year. On their behalf, we thank The Fund and NPCA. This extension of Petrified Forest’s boundaries will increase our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Arizona’s Painted Desert environment and its archeological and fossil wonders.”

PFNP is famous for its expansive vistas of colorful eroding badlands of the Painted Desert, stark landscapes and the rainbow hues of large petrified trees found in concentration throughout the park.  Once a lush landscape of coniferous trees and riverways, the park is now a dynamic laboratory offering unparalleled opportunities for scientific research and one-of-a-kind experiences for more than 631,000 visitors each year.

In 2011, The Conservation Fund helped the National Park Service expand the Park ownership by nearly 25 percent with the protection and addition of 26,000 acres that are considered by Park scientists to be full of potential for notable paleontological and archeological discoveries. That substantial effort was made possible with Congressionally-approved funds through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal land protection program that receives a percentage of the proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties. LWCF is one of the nation’s premier conservation funding sources, which has been protecting forests, natural resources, state and local parks and recreation areas since 1965. The National Park Service plans to use additional LWCF funds along with a substantial private donation to complete the purchase of the McCauley Ranch lands.

“This acquisition is great news for both Petrified Forest National Park and the people who cherish it as a special and unique place,” said Kevin Dahl, Arizona program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “By working together, and with special thanks to a generous donor who wishes to be anonymous, this important inholding inside the park will be permanently protected from inappropriate development. But this is just one more piece of the puzzle, as other sensitive parcels at Petrified and at other national parks across the nation are in risk and need to be preserved. Now we call on Congress to support LWCF funding to make sure our national parks remain just as special for future generations.”

“The exceptional and irreplaceable prehistoric resources found at Petrified Forest National Park have amazed and captivated Americans for generations, and they should be preserved for the insights they provide into our nation’s cultural and ecological history,” said Mike Ford, Southwest Director for The Conservation Fund. “Together with the indispensable support of the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service and many other key partners who are passionate about protecting this special place, we are committed to conserving some of the world’s great fossil and archeological treasures for generations to come.” 


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

About the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard our National Park System. With more than 750,000 members and supporters, NPCA is the largest independent membership organization dedicated to protecting our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for our children and grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.npca.org.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

Jeff Billington, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717, jbillington@npca.org


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    Arizona’s Petrified Forest is famous for its expansive vistas—stark moon-like landscapes and the colorful eroding badlands of the Painted Desert—and the rainbow hues of large petrified trees found throughout the park. Once a lush landscape of trees and riverways, the… Read More