Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aravaipa Canyon's Cobra Ranch an environmental godsend

[Source: Doug Kreutz, Daily Star] -- Nothing is more wondrous in a desert region than water welling up from the earth and flowing across the land. This spectacle of nature plays out dramatically at the remote Cobra Ranch, where water emerges from underground and forms a year-round stream in otherwise parched terrain. Now, thanks to the generosity of a Tucson artist and businessman, the ranch and its invaluable water source are part of a Nature Conservancy preserve. Sculptor and restaurateur Dan Bates recently donated the sprawling spread northwest of Willcox to the Conservancy, which added the land to its Aravaipa Canyon Preserve just downstream from the ranch.

It starts as a trickle of moisture seeping up from the soil of this historic ranch northwest of Willcox. Then, fed little by little with water rising to the surface from a subterranean source, the trickle grows to a modest flow — and finally blossoms into a gurgling, life-giving stream as it enters spectacular Aravaipa Canyon. The future of this year-round stream, a natural wonder rarely found in a desert place such as Aravaipa Canyon, was brightened recently in a single bold, generous stroke. Dan Bates, a Tucson sculptor and businessman whose family had owned the Cobra Ranch for about 30 years, donated it to The Nature Conservancy. The nonprofit Conservancy is adding the ranch land — 1,250 private acres and 10,000 acres of state and federal leases — to its adjoining Aravaipa Canyon Preserve. That effectively assures that the ranch and its precious water sources won't be developed or tapped for groundwater pumping.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: A.E. Araiza, Daily Star.]