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Contact: Katy Hooper, 520 366 5515 x2310
A leading land conservation group and a longtime friend of Chiricahua National Monument (NM) have helped the National Park Service (NPS) preserve an important part of the natural landscape at the park’s main entrance. On Wednesday, December 17, NPS and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) successfully completed the transfer of 40 acres along Pinery Canyon Road, less than 500 feet from the park entrance station. This acquisition will allow Chiricahua NM to preserve undeveloped more of the gateway viewshed. The land includes part of Erickson Ridge, a prominent topographical feature. Historically, the property lies in an area crossed by Buffalo Soldiers in the 19th century as they patrolled Pinery Canyon.
For years, longtime landowner Dan Fischer had hoped his property eventually would be protected as part of Chiricahua NM. Out of concern for a more speedy transaction after health concerns forced Fischer to move to Tucson, the TPL purchased and held the land earlier this year. That gave the NPS time to complete a necessary technical step before the addition of land to a national park unit: a minor but formal adjustment of the park’s legal boundary to include the parcel. Once that was completed, the NPS purchased the property for $375,000, the same price the TPL paid Fischer. The NPS bought the acreage with funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program supported with royalties from offshore oil and gas production.
“We are so grateful that The Trust for Public Land worked with us and Mr. Fischer to acquire this property and thus protect it as part of Chiricahua National Monument,” said H. Lane Baker, superintendent of the NPS’s Southeast Arizona Group (Chiricahua NM, Coronado National Memorial and Fort Bowie National Historic Site).
“Mr. Fischer wished to see his land protected as part of the national monument and it was a pleasure to work with him and the National Park Service to make this a reality,” said Michael Patrick, project manager for The Trust for Public Land.
Fischer, an author, naturalist and bird photographer, once lived in a historic stone house on the property with his late wife. The house, which has been rented to employees of the park for the past five years, will continue as employee housing while the park conducts a housing assessment in 2015.