Tonto National Forest
Cave Creek in Tonto National Forest. Photo by Alan English/Flickr
Cave Creek, only 25 miles north of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, is one of the few perennial streams in the Upper Sonoran Desert. Cottonwood, willow, sycamore and ash trees as well as bulrushes and cattails grow in this riparian area, in sharp contrast to the arid uplands of the watershed. We partnered with the landowners and the U.S. Forest Service to add 28 acres of this oasis to the Tonto National Forest, including areas where Hohokam people lived about 800 years ago.
For financing, the team tapped a little-known federal land conservation program, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000. Under this act, the Bureau of Land Management can sell hard-to-manage parcels of public land and lands with significant residential or commercial value, to generate funds to support land conservation. Across the West, this resource promises to extend land conservation’s horizon.