After more than a quarter of a century as a Nature Conservancy preserve, the Hassayampa River Preserve is about to start a new chapter.
As part of a new partnership, The Nature Conservancy and Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department will integrate the 770-acre preserve near Wickenburg as a component of the planned Vulture Mountains Recreation Area, a 71,000-acre regional recreational area west and south of the Hassayampa River Preserve.
Its new name will be Hassayampa River Preserve at Vulture Mountains Recreation Area.
“Our Hassayampa River Preserve will serve as a gateway to a much larger natural recreation area,” says Patrick Graham, the Conservancy in Arizona’s state director. “This kind of partnership is the future. The Nature Conservancy can continue to preserve our investment in this unique and rare habitat while expanding visitor education and recreation experiences through Maricopa County Parks. By working together we offer so much more. “
As part of the agreement, the Conservancy will retain ownership of most of the preserve but transfer ownership of its visitor center, a portion of the river channel and Palm Lake to the County. Additionally, the Conservancy will put a conservation easement on the property. An easement is a land protection tool that ensures its natural values are forever protected.
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department will assume day-to-day management of the preserve, including its trails, educational outreach, services and visitor programs. Â Maricopa County Parks has a proven track record of managing conservation areas such as Spur Cross Ranch in Cave Creek and the Agua Fria Conservation Area and Morgan City Wash at Lake Pleasant.
The Nature Conservancy and Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department have agreed upon a two-year transition period.. A little further down the road, the preserve will undergo mutually agreed upon enhancements. Design plans may include a nature center, amphitheater, wildlife viewing platforms, new trails, picnic tables along the river, and lake features.
The Hassayampa River Preserve is considered to be an oasis in the desert due to its lush vegetation and flowing water, making a home to a variety of wildlife and approximately 300 different bird species. The 71,000-acre Vulture Mountains Recreation Area offers an abundance of recreational opportunities, campsites and open space with magnificent views of the Sonoran Desert.