Help us protect the Gila!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Gila Wilderness, America’s first and New Mexico’s largest wilderness area. But this remarkable landscape and critical habitat is still threatened by the development of privately owned properties within it.

The Wilderness Land Trust has been working with the private landowner of one of five remaining inholdings in the Gila to purchase their property for over a decade, and the opportunity has finally come to fruition. This acquisition would be a meaningful step toward completing Aldo Leopold’s vision for America’s first wilderness area, but we need your help to raise $152,000 to make it a reality.

Due to the outstanding recreation access for hunting, if not protected it is likely this property would be developed for commercial use, threatening the integrity of the surrounding wilderness.

Dominated by high mesas, deep canyons, and rolling hills of grassland and piñon-juniper woodlands alongside a spring and creek in the Middle Fork of the Gila River watershed, the property has outstanding wilderness and ecological value. Together we can remove one of the last remaining threats of development within the Gila and protect this critical habitat.

Protecting the Gila watershed

Spring Canyon runs through the heart of the property, feeding into the East Fork of the Gila River, which has been proposed for Wild and Scenic River designation. The Gila is a critical watershed, sustaining abundant wildlife and supplying clean drinking water to Phoenix, AZ before flowing into the Colorado River. This project will help protect the headwaters, benefiting diverse ecosystems and millions of downstream users.

Ecological Value

At over 550,000 acres, the Gila Wilderness provides important uninterrupted habitat to rare and endangered species like the Gila Trout, the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, the northern Mexican garter snake, several packs of reintroduced endangered Mexican wolves, and the world’s largest population of the rare Mexican spotted owl. The upper Gila watershed is a critical refuge for a wide range of wildlife like javelina, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk, cougars, and black bears. The area is also renowned for its high-quality bird habitat and populations of unusual species like the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, threatened Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Black-Hawk, Montezuma Quail, and Elf Owl, wild turkeys, eagles, and dusky grouse.

To remove one of the last threats of development within the Gila Wilderness, we must raise $152,000. Join us in celebrating 100 years of the Gila by protecting this critical habitat.

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