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  • NRPR staff lead clean-up of historic ranch

    Sep 18, 2018 | Read More News
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    A historic ranch near Three Points got a much-needed clean-up this summer, thanks to the efforts of county and state government and a local ranching family.

    Diamond Bell Ranch is a sprawling, 30,000-acre parcel composed almost entirely of State Trust land. Pima County’s Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department manages the land under a state grazing lease. 
    Diamond Bell Ranch before clean up
    It’s an important conservation area, said NRPR’s Vanessa Prileson, rangeland program manager, because it contains a healthy population of Pima Pineapple Cactus, a federally-listed endangered species that has been difficult for the County and others to protect.

    Sadly, though, despite the beauty of the area in the northern Altar Valley Reserve, the ranch has become a landfill peppered with wildcat dumping sites. That’s why a clean-up crew headed out to the ranch over two different weeks this summer to remedy the situation. 

    Staff from NRPR led the clean-up effort. The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, through waste contractor TRWS, provided 40-yard roll-offs and on-Diamond Bell Ranch after clean upsite inspectors who assisted with clean-up effort by operating a small skid-steer loader. Prileson said the Chilton family, which has managed the land for the past 30 years, was very helpful during the dump site cleanup effort.

    The Arizona State Land Department provided roll-offs for week two of the effort. A six-person inmate crew from the Arizona Department of Corrections consolidated and loaded the majority of the material into the loaders, and bagged leftover items for disposal.  A DOC supervisor was on-site at all times.

    In all, the crew hauled away 90 tons of garbage. Among the items in that mix:
    • Construction debris (dry wall, concrete blocks, carpeting);
    • Household garbage (furniture, mattresses, clothes, toys, various plastics); 
    • Target shooting items (empty shells, wooden ramps, clay pigeons);
    • Green waste (cacti, tree branches); 
    • 205 tires; 
    • Other items such as water jugs, backpacks, and shoes
    The dump sites were located across nearly 4,700 acres on the northern portion of the ranch, all on State Trust land. Prileson said the area has made up a considerable portion of Pima County’s largest and most intact semi-desert grasslands.  

    “Due to climate change, the grasslands have been degraded over time, but still provide important wildlife habitat for Multi-species Conservation Plan species, especially the Pima Pineapple Cactus,” Prileson said. In addition to the Pima Pineapple Cactus, the area also is home to the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, and a host of other MSCP species habitats that Pima County monitors.