Photo looking over Bill Williams River Valley.

The Wilderness Land Trust returns subdivision to wild lands

The Wilderness Land Trust returns subdivision to wild lands

Feb. 13, 2015

Recent acquisition is win-win for landowners and Arizona wilderness


CARBONDALE, CO … There is a subdivision in the heart of the Swansea Wilderness.  It may not have traffic lights, schools, or roads, but it has the potential for fences, ‘no trespassing’ signs, and other obstructions to public access.  Here, investors bought land with dreams of building private retreats and desert getaways.  To build here also requires cutting roads through the unspoiled wilderness that surrounds it.  On the ground however, the subdivision has yet to be developed.  Rich in wildlife, geologic formations and untouched vistas, the land remains pristine but continues to be threatened.  In an effort to keep wilderness wild, the Trust recently acquired 10 acres of private land here, obtaining yet another missing piece of the wilderness puzzle before it was lost forever.


The Wilderness Land Trust was able to purchase the land from an out-of-state seller; it would have otherwise been put on the market for another investor to pick up, potentially compromising the surrounding wilderness with new development plans. The Wilderness Land Trust has now purchased and transferred to public ownership 25 parcels in the Swansea Wilderness, totaling 603 acres.  The land, as soon as it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, becomes a part of the congressionally designated wilderness and its wild characteristics are protected forever.  The threat of construction is removed, watersheds remain intact and wildlife corridors stay unbroken.


“When we hiked in, we were confused by all of the trails along the ridges.  Swept up in the solitude of the desert, we slowly realized that there were no other hikers to be seen and it became clear that the abundance of wildlife had created the trails”, said David Kirk, Senior Lands Specialist with The Wilderness Land Trust.


The Wilderness contains an ecological gem, the Bill Williams River, a vibrant east-west wildlife corridor in the Sonoran desert.  Centuries ago, it served as a vital travel corridor for Native Americans, Spanish explorers and early western explorers as well – providing water and wildlife abundance in an otherwise harsh environment. Without impact from humans today, this rich ecosystem is home to migratory birds, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions and even wild burros.


The Swansea Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1990 and has a total of over 16,400 acres.  The Wilderness was named after the nearby ghost mining town of Swansea, so named because the copper miners were Welsh and the ore was shipped to Wales.  The mining boom was short lived and after just five years, the town disappeared back into the desert.  Visitors can see the ghost town when traveling by 4WD down to the wilderness access point at the Bill Williams River.


The National Wilderness Preservation System 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 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 415 parcels comprised of more than 42,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 91 designated and proposed wilderness areas.  The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado.  For more information visit our website


The Wilderness Land Trust is an accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is supported by individual donors and foundations.  We invite you to visit and learn how you can help keep wilderness wild.         

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