- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - The federal government has bought two parcels of private land surrounding the Agua Fria National Monument 40 miles north of Phoenix to add to the protected site.

The Daily Courier reports that (https://bit.ly/1cMcjuy) the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s purchase of 80 acres of the Cross Y Ranch property and another nearby 40-acre parcel prevent possible development of the two pieces of property.

Officials also said the purchases in southeastern Yavapai County also protect desert grasslands that provide habitat for pronghorn antelope and other species.

The landowner sold the parcels to The Conservation Fund in 2012, and the BLM has been working to buy it ever since. The BLM paid the appraised value of $80,000 using Land and Water Conservation Act money.

The Conservation Fund can move faster than the federal government, so it buys land to temporarily protect it until federal agencies can complete their purchase processes.

“We are thrilled to have the additional habitat and very grateful to our partners, especially the original landowner who chose to have his land become part of the National Conservation Lands, and The Conservation Fund, which made this possible,” said Rem Hawes, manager of the BLM’s Hassayampa Field Office.

The Conservation Fund already has purchased another 600 acres of the Cross Y Ranch to help ease the BLM’s future purchase of this tract, too. The BLM hopes to get Land and Water Conservation Fund money to buy this parcel in fiscal year 2017.

The BLM is interested in buying a couple other private inholdings at the monument, Hawes said, although it’s not pursuing those purchases at this time. They include the 80-acre Box Bar Ranch and a 25-acre parcel that’s also part of the Box Bar.

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Information from: The Daily Courier, https://www.dcourier.com

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