Marble Canyon, Mt. Tipton Wilderness, Arizona

Mount Tipton Wilderness Area’s Marble Canyon to Remain a Hiker’s Haven

Mount Tipton Wilderness Area’s Marble Canyon to Remain a Hiker’s Haven

Oct. 03, 2014

The Wilderness Land Trust Transfers 140 Acres to Bureau of Land Management to protect scenic views, desert wildlife and surrounding wild lands


CARBONDALE, CO... Marble Canyon snakes its way into the Mt. Tipton Wilderness Area below 7,148-foot Mt. Tipton, the tallest peak in the Cerbat Mountains. Its designated wilderness, but not yet secure.  In 2005, when The Wilderness Land Trust and the Bureau of Land Management began a partnership to complete the wilderness, Marble Canyon was also the target of developers.


Located north of Kingman, AZ and the expanding rural residential subdivisions of Las Vegas, Mt. Tipton Wilderness provides an island in the sky for a wide range of Mohave Desert plant and wildlife habitat.  This week, The Wilderness Land Trust transferred 140 acres to public ownership here, extinguishing the threat of encroaching development and keeping this scenic canyon forever wild.


"The BLM is pleased to have completed the acquisition of this property in the Mt. Tipton Wilderness Area," said Rebecca Heick, Acting Deputy State Director of Land and Minerals for BLM Arizona. "It seems fitting that, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, this scenic canyon will join our system of National Conservation Lands, ensuring its use and enjoyment by present and future generations."


When the Mt. Tipton Wilderness was designated, two sections of land in the middle of the wilderness along Marble Canyon remained privately owned, and developers eyed the canyon for a wilderness lodge retreat.  With the new US Highway 93 Bridge under construction spanning the Colorado River from Las Vegas, and the real estate bubble escalating monthly, private lands in the desert around Kingman shot up in value.  Hoping to capitalize on that market, speculators received a ruling in 2002 allowing for motor vehicle travel through Marble Canyon across the BLM wilderness to access their proposed ranch retreat.  This ruling could have inspired other private landowners in the sections to claim motorized access to their properties as well.


The Wilderness Land Trust contacted landowners surrounded by the wilderness to offer them another option for selling their properties, and in 2007 the Trust purchased 60 acres to help protect the area from road construction and development.  Since that time the Trust has purchased and transferred 11 parcels to the BLM totaling 390 acres in Mt. Tipton, including the latest transfer of 140-acres. 


This acquisition effort was made possible by the Wyss Foundation, whose investment in the Trust’s conservation work will allow future generations to continue to explore and enjoy the West.  The Bureau of Land Management purchased the land from the Trust using Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) appropriations.  This project completion is especially significant this year, as America celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act and the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.


“The protection of this 140-acre property has tipped the balance in the heart of the Mt. Tipton Wilderness from a canyon threatened by a private ranch retreat to a desert hiker’s haven,” said David Kirk of The Wilderness Land Trust.  “The Trust is thankful for our long standing partnership with the Bureau of Land Management which made the successful preservation of the wilderness possible.”


“This acquisition is part of our ongoing program to secure Arizona’s Wilderness - Mo Udall’s legacy of conservation for Arizonans and the future of Arizona,” said Reid Haughey, President of The Wilderness Land Trust.  “This is the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act and it’s been 24 years since the Mount Tipton Wilderness was preserved.  Now it’s more secure.  We’ve worked on this for decades – buying 59 properties from willing sellers in Arizona and completing the Hells Canyon Wilderness.   But work remains to be done.  There are still several thousand acres of private lands within AZ designated wilderness – land we’re ready to buy from willing sellers and transfer to public ownership to complete already designated wilderness.”


The National Wilderness Preservation System

Wilderness is a refuge for animals, plants, clean water, clean air and a foundation for 21st century conservation. It may hold the key to future conservation and the tools for adapting to global climate change. However, the system is still filled with holes, 180,000 acres of private lands that fracture the whole. Across the country there are plans to develop mines, retreats, logging operations and resorts deep within wilderness holdings, fragmenting a resource that cannot afford to be lost.  The Trust’s continuing mission to eliminate these pockets of inholdings and create a seamless wilderness system is vital, echoing the spirit and intent of the original Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Land Trust is the only national organization dedicated solely to buying these lands and adding them to the National Wilderness Preservation System.


The Wilderness Land Trust

The Wilderness Land Trust (WLT) is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since it was founded in 1992, the non-profit organization has preserved 410 parcels comprised of more than 41,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 90 designated and proposed wilderness areas. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado. WLT is an accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is a 1% for the Planet Non-Profit Partner. For more information visit our website


The year 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which designated 9.1 million acres as the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Land Trust’s work is more relevant than ever, striving to protect the integrity of what is now more than 109.5 million wilderness acres for current and future generations to enjoy.


The Wyss Foundation

The Wyss Foundation helps Western communities conserve iconic parks and landscapes for the public to experience and explore. The Foundation’s work has included support for the Montana Legacy Project’s efforts to permanently protect former Plum Creek timber lands in the Crown of the Continent as working forests, open for hunting, fishing, and recreation. Through the Wyss Scholars and Wyss Fellows programs, the Foundation also helps young people gain the education and experiences needed to pursue successful careers in natural resource stewardship. 

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Since it was founded in 1992, The Wilderness Land Trust organization has preserved 447 parcels comprised of more than 48,872 acres of wilderness inholdings in 103 designated and proposed wilderness areas. 

(Updated 12/2017)