Empire Ranch Headquarters and landscape of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
Empire Ranch Headquarters and landscape of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
Credit: Murray Bolesta

Bureau of Land ManagementEmpire Ranch Headquarters, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area

Member Since: 06/26/2006

Primary Contact: Catie Fenn
Other Contact: Gail W. Corkill

3201 E.Universal Way
Tucson, AZ 85756

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area comprises 42,000 acres of public land in southeastern Arizona. Under public ownership, the Bureau of Land Management manages the area based on the principles of multiple-use for future generations to use and enjoy.

Educational Partners: The (HOL) Hands on the Land programs at Empire Ranch Headquarters is located in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and is hosted by the Empire Ranch Foundation. 2014: Welcome our newest partners: Tucson Unified School District Native American Student Services Program, The Pascua Yaqui Community, Artists and Youth Mentors: Louis David Valenzuela, Norma Mena, Jolene Jose, The Jaimez Family, Hiaki High School. Friends of Western Art Michael Ewing & Cindy Clayberg and the Arizona Trail Association. Continuing partners include: Gail Corkill / North Star Learning Solutions of Arizona, Jeffery Cooper, The Empire Ranch Foundation.

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The Historic Empire Ranch Headquarters is situated in the heart of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and is surrounded by several "sky island" mountain ranges and includes five of the rarest habitat types in the American Southwest including: cienegas (marshes), cottonwood-willow riparian areas, sacaton grasslands, mesquite bosques and semi-desert grasslands. Location: 45 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona or 10 miles north of Sonoita, Arizona. Historic Empire Ranch Headquarters contains a Historic 22-room adobe and wood frame building which dates back to 1870 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The land was acquired by the BLM in 1988 and became a National Conservation Area in 2000.  This area is public land and is part of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) and is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Tucson Field Office.One of BLM-Tucson Field Office's main partners is the Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF) and was established as a private non-profit organization in 1997.  BLM and ERF continue to work cooperatively to preserve and interpret the historic ranch buildings and enhance the educational and recreational opportunities the area offers to the general public. Visitor and Community ActivitiesLas Cienegas National Conservation Area is open 365 days a year.  Several times a year, special events sponsored by the Empire Ranch Foundation takes place at Empire Ranch Headquarters including several HOL - Hands on the Land family, youth & student events.Preservation, Restoration and ReusePreservation and Interpretation of the Empire Ranch Headquarters is a priority mission of the BLM and ERF. Projects involve stabilization, repair of doors, windows, walls, roofs and foundations. Ranch Headquarters contains the self-guided "Heritage Discovery Trail" linking the historic buildings, natural landscape and ecology of Las Cienegas NCA.  Educational programs were delveloped by HOL Wild about the Grasslands! program leader, Gail Corkill.  Augmenting classroom learning about natural and cultural resources is another high priority for the BLM and ERF.Legacy Day“Legacy Day” is a volunteer-run, ranching education program that uses the Empire Ranch Headquarters an “outdoor classroom”. Each May, middle school students and their teachers experience real-life frontier territory activities and preservation service-learning projects. This field day program has been successful in teaching students about ranching culture and preserving the unique history of the Empire Ranch for future generations.Wild about the Grasslands!The Empire Ranch Foundation developed several outdoor education products for Grade 5-7. These educational maps, guides and journals help teach students about natural and cultural resources and is designed to keep students learning while having fun in the outdoors. These products are available through the HOL programs. Opportunites are available for young “naturalists” to explore the Empire Ranch Headquarters, hike nature trails, track wildlife, create works of art inspired by nature, learn to navigate the outdoors with compasses and GPS units, participate in a monitoring project and take part in outdoor adventure games all while discovering the varied habitats of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Youth In Wilderness A new addition to HOL is the HOL YIW - Hands on the Land Youth in Wilderness program that will focus on Native American (Pascua Yaqui/ Yoeme) culture, history and art and how it relates to the surrounding natural resources.   Arizona Trail Project:  Youth will help develop the Arizona Trail Link trail between the Empire Ranch Headquarters and the National Arizona Trail. High School students will be selected to help survey/grade/flag the 3 mile corridor above Oak Tree Canyon.  Landscaping: Refine the Empire Ranch Headquarters landscape plan with participants helping select plants using the following unique planning critera for the historic and natural area: Plants/vegetation to be: 1. Native to surrounding ecosystem  2. Fire-Wise  3. Drought resistant  4. Suitable to soil and elevation 5. Non-invasive  6. No noxious plants  7. Can include Empire Ranch heirloom plants that have the above criteria. Michael Ewing & Cindy Clayberg art youth mentors/art teachers project will focus on raising self/natural surrounding awareness canvas art project to be held at Empire Ranch Headquarters.       
Hands on the Land - Youth In Wilderness (HOLYIW),  emphasis ethnobiology, ethnobotany,  Tohono O'odham and Yaqui (Yoeme) Cultures October 18, 2014  Ironwood Forest National Monument "Ragged Top" Ethnobotany event.     Nov. 1, 2014 Empire Ranch "Round-up" public event 2,500 people to attend.   2 Hands on the Land programs highlighted: Youth in Wilderness and Wild about the Grasslands youth. Mentors and youth to staff booth.  Nov 8 Wilderness 50th event at Sabino Cayon, HOLYIW will host a booth   OLDER EVENTS: June 7, 2014 8:00 am - 1:00 pm       June 14, 2014 8:00 am - 1:00 pm                                              July 26, 2014 9:00 am- 2:00 pm                                 September 27, 2014              National Public Lands Day            8:00 am - 2 p.m.         sponsored by Wild About The Grasslands and Youth In Wilderness HOL programs. Snacks provided.  Enhance the Heritage Discovery Trail     Oct 1, 2014  NPLD follow up HOLYIW to complete Birdwathcing interpretive sign installation.

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