In celebration of the World Migratory Bird Day, the Central Arizona Land Trust (CALT) will launch the It’s for the Birds campaign May 12 to permanently protect the Coldwater Farm containing key riparian habitat along the Agua Fria River in the Town of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. The fundraising goal of $65,000 will cover necessary expenses for establishing the conservation easement and conserving the nearly 20 acres along the river in perpetuity.
Inspired by the flowing waters of the Agua Fria River that runs through their property, owners Garry and Denise Rogers chose to call their home Coldwater Farm. Nestled in the heart of Humboldt, the lushness of the property allows you to feel as if you have entered the Secret Garden. Noticing an abundance of bird species, Garry began keeping a bird list that is now up to 127 species. For instance, the southwestern willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo are using the Coldwater Farm for breeding, according to surveys by the Audubon Society, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These two bird species are considered Neotropical migrants and are Federally-listed as threatened or endangered.
Following the exciting results that the property was supporting two rare species, the Rogers contacted CALT to begin considering a conservation easement for Coldwater Farm. Conservation easements are defined by state law (ARS 33-271) and serve to protect land for specific “conservation purposes” that include “protecting a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife or plants or similar ecosystem.” The property has high potential for habitat improvement, thereby increasing plant and animal diversity and abundance across the property. Additionally, the water resources attached to the land will be protected by the easement, thus further supporting the conservation values.
With their donation of a conservation easement on Coldwater Farm, the Rogers are joining private landowners across America, who work with their local land trust to protect land with significant conservation values. According to the Land Trust Alliance, as of 2017 over 56 million acres have been protected with conservation easements nationwide. For a state like Arizona, with a small percentage of private land, the beauty of conservation easements is that the land remains in private ownership, stays in the family, can be sold or passed on to heirs, retains the existing land uses, and is kept on the local tax rolls, while providing protection of the conservation values forever.
Local chapters of conservation groups, including the Prescott Audubon Society, the Highlands Center for Natural History, the Citizen Water Advocacy Group (CWAG), the Sierra Club-Yavapai Group, and the Arizona Native Plant Society-Prescott Chapter, have stepped up early to voice their support for the long-term protection of Coldwater Farm.
Tax-deductible gifts will be used to meet the fundraising goal of $65,000 by December 31, 2018. All It’s for the Birds donations will be directed to cover the required components associated with establishing the conservation easement – including an appraisal, natural resource baseline reports, surveys and a stewardship contribution. The stewardship contribution ensures that CALT has the financial ability to oversee the conservation easement in perpetuity. The funds are held in trust with the Arizona Community Foundation.