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  • Pima County role recognized in Interior Department award to Cienega Creek group

    Jan 17, 2014 | Read More News
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    Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell presented the Department’s 2013 Partners in Conservation Awards this week to Cienega Watershed Partnership (CWP) and 19 other public-private partnerships that have achieved exemplary conservation results through cooperation and community engagement.

    Pima County Regional Flood Control District; Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation; and Office of Sustainability and Conservation were among the partners who contributed to the CWP habitat restoration and conservation projects recognized by the Interior Department.

    The federal Bureau of Land Management nominated CWP for the award. According to the award program:
    Three Cienega Watershed Partnership (CWP) projects illustrate this partnership’s efforts to promote understanding and stewardship of the natural and cultural resources of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Through the FROG Conservation Project, partners remove non-native species and enhance habitats to recover native fish and leopard frog populations. The Youth Engaged Stewardship (YES!) program engages high-school students in meaningful outdoor experiences. Teen leaders gain leadership and technical skills, as well as knowledge of environmental and public land law, as they plan and implement restoration projects along with mentors from the CWP, Bureau of Land Management, and elsewhere. The CWP’s Oral History Work Group collects and transcribes oral history interviews to encourage cultural preservation of the region.
    The Partnership’s many successful programs and projects provide a means for finding common ground among competing interests. This enables sustainable human use and fosters integrated management across the 45,000 acre Conservation Area and neighboring 100,000 acre planning area.
    Cienega Creek springs from the Canelo Hills south of Sonoita and flows downhill and north about 40 to 50 miles to Pantano Wash, southeast of Tucson near Vail.

    The watershed that feeds the creek covers 450 square miles bounded by the Empire, Whetstone, Santa Rita and Rincon mountains. In 1986, the Pima County Board of Supervisors established the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, which covers more than 4,000 acres, or 6.25 square miles, along the last 12 miles of Cienega Creek.

    The Bureau of Land Management began to acquire ranch land in the upper Cienega watershed for conservation in 1988, and the U.S. Congress designated the area in Pima and Santa Cruz counties as Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.

    Sands-Clyne RanchesPima County has also acquired working ranch lands in the watershed under the 2004 Open Space Bond program. The Empirita, Sands and Clyne ranches are adjacent to the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and significantly add to the conservation land base that is part of the Cienega watershed area.

    CWP is a nonprofit organization founded to support stewardship initiatives in the Cienega watershed region.

    Pima County has been an active member of CWP. The County was the primary partner that made available most of the necessary in-kind match dollars for some highlighted projects, including the FROG Conservation Project. The County has been working with CWP partners to rehabilitate habitat for Chiricahua leopard frogs (a threatened species) on the Sands and Clyne ranches. Pima County has also supported other wildlife projects in the area related to pronghorn antelope and blacktail prairie dogs.

    For more information about the Partners in Conservation Awards, please visit http://www.doi.gov. For more information about the Cienega Watershed Partnership, please visit http://www.cienega.org/.