Size: 2,543 acres
Location: Cibola County
Eco-Region: Arizona-New Mexico Mountains
Conservation Values: Agriculture, Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat
Type of Project: Donated Conservation Easement
Date Completed: December, 2015
The Blue Water Heritage Ranch has functioned as a working cattle ranch for over 120 years. The ranch, totaling 7,600 acres, sits on the east facing slopes of the Zuni Mountains near the Village of Bluewater. The ranch property is very diverse ecologically as it transitions from upper elevation coniferous forests dominated by pinyon and juniper trees, with lower elevation grasslands comprised primarily of blue grama grass. The Property provides wildlife habitat for elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, and other native species. Bluewater Creek, notably the main stream corridor in the area, meanders along the northeast portion of the ranch and provides some limited surface water rights and livestock water. Cultural resource surveys and recorded artifacts have revealed a rich history of use by Native American cultures on the property. The land is actively managed for conservation, particularly with respect to livestock practices such as pasture rotation, as well as habitat improvements including the removal of encroaching junipers, riparian plantings and fencing exclosures along Bluewater Creek, and the installation of hundreds of erosion control structures across the entire ranch. The West Blue Water Heritage Ranch Conservation Easement is the first step in protecting the ranch, with the potential for further easements on the remaining ranch acreage into the future.