Work in Hot Springs Canyon
Hot Springs Canyon is central to the S-J grazing lease, as it is ecologically to the Middle-to-Lower San Pedro river basin. A major tributary of the San Pedro River, draining a watershed of over one hundred square miles, it has been recognized by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in their site plan as a core area of concern. This concern is reflected in the attention TNC placed on the upper Hot Springs Canyon watershed in acquiring the Muleshoe Ranch and developing the partnership in the Muleshoe Cooperative Management Area (CMA). They have also purchased Conservation Easements in the lower reaches of the wash. S-J and the Cascabel Hermitage Association (CHA) are now working with TNC to place donated conservation easements in the middle reaches of the canyon, both on their own land and with neighbors. The primary aim of this activity is to maintain Hot Springs Canyon as a wildlife corridor between the Winchester/Galiuro Mountains complex with the San Pedro river, and then up through Paige Canyon on the west side of the Central Basin into the Rincon Mountains.
Besides S-J and CHA's role in maintaining this Hot Springs wildlife corridor, they have done other substantive conservation projects in the canyon. First, locally residing S-J members repaired the old windmill to provide alternative waters for both cattle and people, and built an erosion control fence to protect the windmill (which was threatened by the aforementioned floods). Re-activating the windmill allowed S-J to fence off Hot Springs Canyon from cattle at the Yellow Cliffs area so that this riparian system can recover upstream - an area that has probably been continuously grazed for over a hundred years. S-J work on the Windmill area, including its large ramada and grounds, also allowed us to establish a living presence within the constraints of the S-J Covenant, and to develop a resource area there for the Cascabel Hermitage Association. In so doing, motor vehicle traffic can now be stopped and monitored at the Windmill. We built a kiosk to explain the S-J Covenant and rules pertaining to use of the S-J/CHA private land in the canyon.
These actions have led to hopeful gains in the restoration of Hot Springs Canyon. Cottonwood, ash, willow, sycamore and walnut as well as grasses and forbs are again becoming established where cattle have been excluded or are carefully managed. Recently a severe flood, that in the past might have scoured the wash clean, left the newly established channel and vegetation intact. See the following link: HSC images and information