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  • Stewardship and Cultural Resources in the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve

    Apr 22, 2021 | Read More News
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    The Cienega Creek Natural Preserve (owned by the Pima County Regional Flood Control District and managed jointly with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation) is located east of Tucson, situated between the San Pedro and Tucson Basins. It includes 4,000 acres of conservation land that runs along the Cienega Creek, extending from Colossal Cave Road to Empirita Ranch. It is well-known for its species diversity, riparian habitat, and cultural and historical values. 

    For many years, Pima County has collaborated with the Site Steward Program-- a volunteer-based program managed by Arizona State Parks. Site Steward volunteers have provided additional support to protect cultural resources on Pima County conservation lands, such as the Pantano Townsite Conservation Area in the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve. For more information on the goals of the Site Steward Program in Arizona go to: Arizona Site Stewards Volunteer Program

    Pima County’s Office of Sustainability and Conservation, Cultural Resources & Historic division (OSC) has overseen the Site Steward Program activities in the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve since 2003. Site stewards monitoring the preserve have documented an enormous amount of information on site conditions over the years, which were compiled and analyzed in 2018 to identify areas in need of survey.

    OSC contracted WestLand Resources, Inc. to conduct a cultural resources survey of 700 acres covering prioritized areas to help with identifying cultural resources. OSC was the recipient of a 2019 Federal Historic Preservation Fund Certified Local Government Pass-Through Grant for a cultural resources survey within the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, making this large-scale survey (completed in the summer of 2020) possible. The process of analyzing years of site steward documents and getting updated survey information, reinvigorated the program. Even through the pandemic over this past year, there was a surge of renewed interest and additional site steward volunteers became trained to assist Pima County in protecting cultural resources. 

     In a larger effort designed to bring all the aspects of conservation land management together, the recent data compilation and survey efforts by OSC have contributed to addressing the goals outlined in the new Cienega Corridor Management Plan—completed by a recent joint effort by staff from multiple Pima County departments. The Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife in Spring 2021 as a requirement of the Section 10 Multi-Species Conservation Mitigation Set-Aside Conservation Plan (MSCP).