Reflecting on What Has Been Achieved
By: David Seibert, Executive Director, Borderlands Restoration
This article was published in the March edition of the Patagonia Regional Times, see it here on pg. 2.
It’s true—the property formerly known as 3 Canyons, with 200 houses and thin strips of land loosely defined as a ‘conservation easement,’ will not be developing as planned. It will, in fact, be protected as a wildlife corridor, with human and other animal activities negotiated through close collaboration with local communities. Up to 20 existing lots in the south end of the property may have to be sold over time in order to pay the enormous mortgage and insurance costs incurred by scores of family and friends, but these will not be exclusive or high-end sales. In fact, many who contributed to the effort emptied retire- ment or savings accounts to make this happen, and they con- tinue to volunteer tirelessly. It’s imperative that we all understand these facts. And it is for those who have given, and for many others who continue to give and always will, that we at Border- lands Restoration will work harder than ever to make this effort work in every way possible, including opportunities to work on the land.
We continue to conduct interviews, surveys, erosion control recon, trail planning, fence repair, and public outreach to neighbors. There is much to do yet and much to talk about, but thanks to PRT, Patagonia Area Business Association, Patagonia Regional Business Coalition, the library, Gathering Grounds, the Town, and many others, we’ll have time and space for this. Join us, learn, and contribute.
Respectfully shared below is a letter Ron Pulliam wrote to some of us who have nearly laughed and cried ourselves crazy over the challenges we faced on the journey to secure the corridor. In spite of his humble reluctance to publish it, I think it’s beautiful and important to shine a little light on him, just this once. As Director, I’m going to go ahead and make sure it’s in the local cultural archive in this way. Thank you, Ron. He wrote it right after closing on the land, and there are many more hard workers than are mentioned here to thank for their efforts.
Although there is still plenty to worry about, cash flow for example, I am happy to report that I am en- joying 3 Canyons more each day. I visit the land almost every day and almost always see a new vista or encounter a new animal or plant that I have not seen there before. Even though the perimeter is over 8 miles, a 1250-acre ranch is- n’t that big by Arizona standards. And even though there are at least four federally-listed threatened or endangered species that live there, it is not so much the number of spe- cies or the number acres but rather the connectivity it provides that makes it so special. Three Canyons and the adjacent Sonoita Creek Ranch connect the species-rich Hua- chuca, Patagonia, and Santa Rita mountains and form a vital natural corridor for animal movement. Patagonia sunrises are often spec- tacular, but last Tuesday [closing date] was perhaps the most glorious daybreak I have ever seen. By the time we closed escrow that afternoon, the sky was gray and the sun was obscured, but we were happy. Some of us took a bottle of Cava and a few folding chairs out to the land and found a little knoll with a view. We called Jack May, toasted the wildlife, and celebrated. David Seibert and I talked about how many times we thought the deal was dead, only then told ourselves that we just had to find another way to make this work. Thank you Sy and Kate, for your optimism, and Jerry, for saying that gray sky was spectacular. Thank you, David and Jack for sharing so many ups and downs. And thank you Janice, for putting up with an obsessed husband.We have so much work ahead of us. We are planning rare plant surveys, cover hedgerows to conceal ocelot movement, a riparian restoration for Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and breeding ponds for endangered fish and frogs. We are engaging the community, creating new jobs, planning a restoration farm for growing rare plants, and looking for ways to accommodate bird watchers, butterfly collectors, hikers, equestrians, dog walkers, and kite flyers, while keeping in mind that more than anything else, this land is for wildlife. I suspect there will still be days when it again seems like everything is falling apart, so David, don’t forget to tell me that we just have to find another way to make this work.