Sands Ranch

In December of 2008, Pima County Supervisors approved the purchase of 5,040 acres of the Sands Ranch located in Pima County. Funding for the $21 million acquisition came from the sale of bonds approved by Pima County voters as part of the 2004 Conservation Acquisition Bond Program. This acquisition secures the missing link between the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and the Whetstone Mountains and is the most significant grasslands habitat acquisition in Pima County’s history.

The Trust worked for months with the landowners, Sands Properties, L.L.C., to find a way to permanently protect the Ranch in Pima County. “The acquisition of Sands Ranch adds 5,040 acres of conserved lands to the Conservation Lands System, providing a critical landscape connection for healthy ecological function and wildlife movement,” said Diana Freshwater, then Executive Director of Arizona Land and Water Trust, which assisted Pima County with the acquisition.

According to Freshwater, the acquisition of the Pima County portion of the Sands Ranch expands and connects already conserved lands along the critically important Cienega Creek: the Whetstone Mountains of the Coronado National Forest, the Empire Ranch and the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The County’s acquisition also protects wildlife movement corridors between the Santa Rita Mountains and the Whetstone Mountains, and conserves a direct connection between significant riparian areas such as Sonoita Creek, Babocomari River and Cienega Creek.

The Sands Ranch in its entirety stretches from just east of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in Pima County and Santa Cruz County, east into Cochise County to the San Pedro River. The Sands Family has owned the ranch since 1920. Through a ranch management agreement reached as part of the acquisition, Sands Properties, L.L.C. will continue to manage the Pima County portion of the ranch for 10 years with an option for another 10 years.

Acres: 5,040

Type: Owned by Pima County

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