Secretary Zinke Announces Greater Access for Sportsmen and Hikers in Arizona's Santa Teresa Mountains

Short, gnarly trees stand on a dry, grassy hillside with tall rock spires rising in the background.
9/20/2017

Date: September 20, 2017
Contacts: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will acquire the 600-acre ET Ranch to increase access for hunters, hikers, and backpackers to the Santa Teresa Wilderness Area in Arizona. The acquisition was hailed by Anglers United, AZ Antelope Foundation, AZ Bass Federatoin, AZ Bowhunters Association, AZ Wild Turkey Federation, AZ Safari Club International, AZ Trout Unlimited, AZ Elk Society, and several other sportsman’s organizations.

The acquisition of the ranch is the culmination of the shared conservation partnership between the BLM, the Trust for Public Lands (TPL), the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) and the South Eastern Arizona Sportsman Club. The BLM purchased the land from TPL using $480,000 from the Sportsman’s and Recreational Access component of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is generated from offshore oil and gas revenue.

“​I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. ​Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That's something I want more families to experience,​ which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,​" said Secretary ​Ryan ​Zinke. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, ​and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be."

“These types of partnerships are vital to managing sustainable, working public lands,” said Scott Feldhausen, Manager of the BLM’s Gila District Office. “We manage the public lands for the benefit of current and future generations, supporting conservation and our multiple-use mission. This acquisition will add a new public access point to public lands where it was previously very limited.”

"The National Wild Turkey Federation applauds Secretary Zinke for his efforts to open access to our federal public lands for hunting and other outdoor recreation," said NWTF CEO Becky Humphries. "This small-acreage acquisition providing access to previously landlocked public land is an example of projects that need to be pursued in other areas, and the NWTF is proud to have been a partner in these efforts."

This acquisition opens public access to the 5,800-acre BLM wilderness area, located northwest of Safford, Ariz​ona​, and the nearby 26,800-acre Santa Teresa Wilderness Area in the Coronado National Forest. Both areas are located in the Santa Teresa Mountains and offer great hunting, hiking and backpacking opportunities.

Funding for a public access easement was provided by AGFD, through their Landowner Relations Program, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. That easement is currently held by the South Eastern Arizona Sportsman Club.

“The Santa Teresa Mountains provide excellent recreational benefits for all people interested in exploring the outdoors. This partnership with BLM, the TPL, South Eastern Arizona Sportsman Club, and the National Wild Turkey Federation allows us to protect this access point in perpetuity,” said Al Eiden, Landowner Relations Program manager for AGFD.

“The North Santa Teresa Wilderness is a beautiful well-preserved landmark that has been closed off to the public for too long. We are thrilled that permanent access is now guaranteed and people can go hunting and backpacking into this remarkable landscape,” said Michael Patrick, Arizona Program Manager for the TPL.

Each year, active outdoor recreation alone generates billions in consumer spending and supports thousands of jobs in Arizona.

For more information on the LWCF, visit https://www.doi.gov/lwcf.