Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuge Closes on the Final Piece of the Bar Boot Ranch Conservation Easement
Southwest Region, August 16, 2011
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Lower Chalk Tank, One of the Impoundments on the Bar Boot Ranch.
Lower Chalk Tank, One of the Impoundments on the Bar Boot Ranch. - Photo Credit: Christopher D. Lohrengel

The Bar-Boot Ranch is located in a high valley lying between the 7,140-foot elevation Swisshelm Mountains to the west, and a southern portion of the 9,854-foot elevation Chiricahua Mountains to the east. It is located about 15-miles upstream from LCNWR, and adjoins portions of the Coronado National Forest on the east, and the 11,585-acre 99-Bar Ranch on the south (which also entered into a Conservation Easement with the Service in 2001).


The Ranch consists of about 25,940 acres, including 13,713 acres of deeded lands, 640 acres of State Grazing Allotment, 424 acres of Bureau of Land Management Grazing Allotment, and 11,163 acres of U.S. Forest Service Grazing Allotment. The property is dedicated to livestock production, grassland and wetland habitat restoration, research, and associated activities.

The Ranch is owned by Josiah and Valer Austin, whose efforts at ecosystem repair utilizing headwater erosion control are well known and recognize by many conservationists. The ranch is dedicated to maintaining a variety of conservation values of substantial importance to the ranch owners and to the Service. Over several years, the Austins have restored this ranch and other properties and made improvements to the watershed and range land, both to enhance livestock production and ecosystem health. The Austins were instrumental in establishing a safe harbor agreement on their Bar-Boot Ranch for a number of federally-listed endangered species, which are expected to pioneer onto the ranch due to habitat restoration efforts, or could be introduced/reintroduced onto the ranch in appropriate habitats. An example would be introduction of Yaqui topminnow and Chiricahua leopard frogs into stock tanks or other ranch wetlands.

The Ranch falls within the original 25,000-acre LCNWR acquisition boundary identified in the Preliminary Project Proposal approved on August 25, 1992 to pursue expansion and protection of the Refuge. Land appraisals were completed during 2004, and the Service subsequently purchased the first of several Conservation Easements on the Bar-Boot, with the last closing on August 16 of this year. These conservation easements seek to ensure survival of native fish and wildlife on both the Ranch and the Refuge while providing for normal livestock ranching operations and watershed restoration activities to continue on the Ranch. The easement limits division, subdivision, and surface development on the ranches private fee land into perpetuity while encouraging its traditional ranching and watershed restoration activities to continue. By limiting subdivision and surface development in the upstream reaches of the Leslie Creek watershed, the easement also helps assure the water supplies historically available to sustain native fish, wildlife, and plants, including federally-listed threatened and endangered species, found downstream of the ranch on the Refuge. The entire Bar-Boot Ranch Conservation Easement is being purchased in increments as funding becomes available.

Contact Info: Christopher Lohrengel, 520-364-2104 x.106, chris_lohrengel@fws.gov
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