Rincon Institute
Natural Area Protection
Saguaro National Park Expansion

The Rincon Institute has played an instrumental role in expanding both the east and west units of Saguaro National Park. In 1991, the Institute organized a diverse coalition of environmentalists,

Saguaro Bloom with Bees
Photo by Michelle Berry
landowners, and neighborhood activists to win bipartisan support for expanding the Rincon Mountain District of the park by almost 4,000 acres. The "expansion area" contains healthy multi-aged saguaro stands, cottonwood groves, mesquite bosques, and relatively rare wildlife species such as the Gila monster, desert tortoise, cougar, and coati. In 1994, the Rincon Institute supported a similar coalition that convinced Congress to add another 3,400 acres to the Tucson Mountain District of the park. Congress is now appropriating funds to acquire these valuable lands.

We also coordinated a three-year initiative for open space protection that led to the overwhelming passage of the $36 million Pima County Desert Protection and Historic Preservation bond in May 1997

Visit the Saguaro National Park website to learn more!

What is a Conservation Easement?
Currently, Rincon Institute holds three conservation easements protecting approximately 190 acres along important riparian areas and federally protected land within the Tanque Verde and Rincon Valleys. So what does that mean; what is a conservation easement? A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust (a private nonprofit conservation organization, such as the Rincon Institute) or government agency that limits a property's uses in order to protect its conservation values. Property consists of a group of distinct rights, which include agricultural rights (the right to farm or ranch), development rights (the right to subdivide the land, construct buildings, etc.), mineral rights (the right to mine), hunting rights, water rights, as well as the right to exclude others from the property. Therefore, when you own land, you also "own" many rights associated with it. When you donate or sell a conservation easement to a land trust, you permanently give up some of those rights.