Empire Ranch Headquarters, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
Member Since: 06/26/2006
Contact: Catie Fenn
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 program at Empire Ranch Headquarters is located in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and is hosted by the Empire Ranch Foundation. This year (2013-2014), welcome our newest partners: The Pascua Yaqui Community, Artists and Youth Mentors: Louis David Valenzuela and Michael Ewing & Cindy Clayberg and the Arizona Trail Association. Continuing participants and partners include: Gail Corkill / North Star Learning Solutions, Arizona Game and Fish, Cienega Watershed Partnership, Community Coalition of Eastern Santa Cruz County, Frog Conservation Project, Patagonia Elementary School District, Sonoita Elementary School District, Sonoita Bible Church - BSA Troop 528, The Nature Conservancy - Sonoita Creek Preserve, The University of Arizona - College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona - Cooperative Extension - 4H.
- Big Picture
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 Activities
Las 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 Reuse
Preservation 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” 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 HOL YIW participants to 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.
- Program Description
September 28, 2013 National Public Lands Day a HOL "Wild about the Grasslands! event.
You are invited to help enhance the Heritage Discovery Trail at Empire Ranch Headquarters. Activities include helping trim this summer's grass and plant growth on the trail under the shade of some of the biggest cottonwood trees in Southern Arizona! While you are helping out, you are most likely to see neo-tropical migratory birds, over 29 species of grass, maybe see 1 or more threatened and endangered Chircahua Leopard frogs and plenty of great scenery and camaraderie.
Saturday, October 19, 2013:
Hands on the Land "Youth in Wilderness" event. This event will be held on same day as ERF's Work Day.
9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Includes 3 activities:
1. Walk/explorer the Cottonwood-Willow "Gallery" known as Empire Gulch, then walk/explore and learn about Empire Ranch Headquarters.
2. Help enhance the Heritage Discovery Trail Trailhead by helping install mesquite fence posts, plant native vegetation at the trailhead to help the Empire Ranch Foundation prepare for the Nov 3 , 2013 "round-up" event.
HOL YIW participants can help select plants/vegetation by learning /using the following unique gardening/ planting critera for this historic and natural area: Plants/vegetation to be: A. Native to surrounding ecosystem B. Fire-Wise C. Drought resistant D. Suitable to the soil and elevation at Empire Ranch Headquarters E. No invasive or noxious plants F. Can include Empire Ranch heirloom plants that have the above criteria
3. Participate in Traditional Pascua Yaqui / Yoeme art and cultural activity featuring Louis David Valenzuela. Participants will select a piece of downed wood (from the adjacent heavily wooded pasture area) and bring to the session to learn about yaqui / yoeme arts and traditions and learn to carve with wood-files and paint traditional styles on walking sticks or small masks to take home.
WINTER SCHEDULE: Dates to be announced (mid Nov - Feb)
Hands on the Land "Youth in Wilderness" event:
AZ Trail Association and Youth crew to help develop Arizona Trail link from Las Cienegas NCA to the Arizona Trail.
Western Artist Michael Ewing and Cindy Clayberg , Youth Mentors and Art Teachers will lead a 4-5 hour self/natural surroundings awareness canvas art project at Historic Empire Ranch Headquarters. This project helps build confidence in new or budding artists.
Artists are needed in the world, and hopefully a class such as this can help future artists find there way into the creative world of fine art or landscape art or maybe find a future in designing websites, interpretive panels, displays, books, illustrations, interpretive programs that focus on the natural sciences, culture and more.....
March (TBA) HOL "Youth in Wilderness"
May (TBA) HOL Wild about the Grasslands! Legacy Day
- Hot Topics
The Bureau of Land Management is encouraging youth, parents and teachers to take "field trips" to outdoor classrooms including the Hands on the Lands program at Empire Ranch Headquarters, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.
* Tags are significant words connected with this site's program and linkable with other HOL sites.