Game and Fish to host public meetings regarding management of the department’s Horseshoe Ranch property

The property is located about an hour north of Phoenix within the Agua Fria  National Monument. The acquisition included 200 acres of deeded land coupled with nearly 70,000 acres of grazing allotments, all of which will be under Arizona Game and Fish Department management.

Game and Fish is looking for the public’s feedback and input on various management scenarios for this site that will be presented during these meetings. Each meeting will consist of an information session highlighting the property’s history, the purposes for acquiring the property, and possible development and management scenarios, followed by an open forum session where the public’s feedback and ideas regarding the scenarios will be solicited. 

“We encourage people to attend and provide their thoughts,” said Randy Babb, information and education program manager for the department’sMesaregion. “The input will help us design future management for the ranch and wildlife area.”

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m., Phoenix, Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters, Eagle Room, 5000 W. Carefree Highway.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6-8 p.m., Black Canyon City, Albin’s Civic Center, 19055 E. K-Mine Road.
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 6-8 p.m., Mayer/Cordes Junction area,MayerHigh School, Mayer (follow signs to public meeting room).

For more information, contact Randy Babb, information and education program manager for the Game and Fish Mesa region, at (480) 324-3546 or

Turning ranch into public asset benefits wildlife

[Source: Opinions, AZ Republic]

A historic ranch, sitting in the middle of the Agua Fria National Monument, is about to be protected.

The 199-acre private inholding has rich riparian habitat and a collection of buildings that includes bunkhouses, two houses and a barn. With easy access to the Valley, right along Interstate 17, the site has enormous potential for education and outdoor recreation.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission stepped in to put this quintessentially Western site into public stewardship. In October, it approved the acquisition of Horseshoe Ranch with money from the Heritage Fund and other sources. A staff member will live on site, providing a much-needed layer of security for a place that’s so close to a major metropolitan area. The monument has petroglyphs and archaeological sites that need the extra oversight.

This is a winning move from many angles. Acquiring the ranch ensures easy public access to the national monument, which might otherwise be limited.

Wildlife benefits from keeping this vast landscape intact, avoiding fragmentation from development. The monument and ranch are home to animals that range from a large herd of pronghorn to javelinas and mountain lions. Endangered species there include the Gila topminnow and desert pupfish.

Game and Fish will work with other agencies to restore grasslands and manage the critical Agua Fria watershed.

The public can enjoy the opportunities for hunting, fishing, exploring, viewing wildlife and bird watching. The Agua Fria was designated as an “important bird area” by the National Audubon Society.

It took a lot of partners to put this $3.3 million deal together. The owner had bought the land with the goal of a federal land exchange. When that didn’t work out, the Trust for Public Land helped carry the property.

No tax dollars from the state general fund are going toward the purchase, which will be paid through the Lottery-supported Heritage Fund (which has a dedicated land-acquisition fund) and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant. The ranch’s 68,000-acre grazing rights are being bought with help from the Arizona Antelope Foundation ($185,000) and the National Wild Turkey Federation ($1,000), using money raised from raffling special big-game tags.

The partnerships will continue to support the management of the ranch. A few strings remained to be tied, including a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Agua Fria National Monument.

Then this unique property will belong to all Arizonans from now on.

Game and Fish to buy Horseshoe Ranch next to Agua Fria Monument

[Source: Joanna Dodder Nellans, The Daily Courier] – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has unanimously agreed to buy the Horseshoe Ranch, sealing a deal to keep the 199-acre inholding surrounded by the Agua Fria National Monument in public hands. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had wanted to buy the ranch ever since the surrounding lands became a BLM monument in 2000, but couldn’t come up with the money to maintain it in the future, explained Monument Manager Rem Hawes. So Game and Fish stepped in with the help of grant and lottery money.

The historic ranch features two homes, bunkhouses, a large barn, storage buildings, ancient rock art and a half-mile of the Agua Fria River in southeastern Yavapai County. “This is a significant riparian corridor,” said Angie Lohse, land and water program manager for Game and Fish. The agency plans to use the ranch for outdoor and wildlife educational activities, she said, much like way it uses its Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area near Springerville [to read the full article click here].