U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FY 2016 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Project Descriptions
On 9-15-16, Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) received an award of $1,000,000 from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Section 6 grant program to be applied toward acquisition of EC Bar Ranch. State funds from the Heritage Fund will be used to match federal funds. The FWS Award announcement reads in part:
EC Bar Ranch (Apache County) $1,000,000.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department will use this grant to acquire a 310-acre tract along over three miles of Nutrioso Creek located in Apache County. This acquisition will primarily benefit the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and threatened Little Colorado spinedace. The proposed acquisition includes 111 acres of surface water rights, 45 acre-feet of storage water rights, 94 acres of an established conservation easement covered by the New Mexico Land Conservancy, and would connect to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest at the north end of the property. The EC Bar Ranch supports the largest concentration of spinedace and perennial water on Nutrioso Creek, and to date, jumping mice are only known to occupy this reach of Nutrioso Creek.
Out of about $7.6 million available for the Recovery Land Acquisition Grant program, only 8 states received awards, with 13% of the total going to AGFD in Arizona. As the only project funded in the Southwest FWS Region 2, the award represents strong FWS support and demonstrates the importance of EC Bar Ranch to protection and recovery of T&E species. In addition to AGFD and FWS partnering in the acquisition, New Mexico Land Conservancy Board of Directors has offered to donate the EC Bar Ranch conservation easement to AGFD after the easement property is acquired. The use of federal funds through the Section 6 program requires AGFD to own and manage the property in perpetuity. Title, survey, and appraisal work has begun for a possible close of escrow in 2017.