Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
El Camino del Diablo, 2004.jpg
Entering the Refuge via El Camino del Diablo, 2004
Map showing the location of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
Map of the United States
Location Yuma County / Pima County, Arizona, United States
Nearest city Yuma, AZ
Coordinates 32°19′N 113°26′W / 32.317°N 113.433°W / 32.317; -113.433Coordinates: 32°19′N 113°26′W / 32.317°N 113.433°W / 32.317; -113.433
Area 860,010 acres (3,480 km2)[1]
Established 1939
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CPNWR) is located in the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona in the United States. It is the third largest national wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states. The refuge, established in 1939 to protect Desert bighorn sheep, is located along 56 miles (90 km) of the Mexico–United States border, and covers 860,010 acres (3,480 km2)[1]—larger than the land area of the state of Rhode Island.

Spanish for "dark head," the refuge's name comes from the Cabeza Prieta Mountains in the refuge's northwest part. Author Edward Abbey, a frequent visitor, described CPNWR as "the best desert wilderness left in the United States."[2]

The refuge is administered from offices in Ajo, Arizona.

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness Area[edit]

93% of CPNWR (803,418 acres (3,251 km2))[3] were preserved in 1990 as the Cabeza Prieta Wilderness Area. The refuge may be temporarily closed for training exercises on the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range.



In 1936, the Arizona boy scouts mounted a state-wide campaign to save the desert bighorn sheep, leading to the creation of CPNWR. The Scouts first became interested in the sheep through the efforts of Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the noted conservationist who has been called the "Father of Scouting". Burnham observed that fewer than 150 of these sheep still lived in the Arizona mountains. He called George F. Miller, then scout executive of the boy scout council headquartered in Phoenix, with a plan to conserve them.[4]

Several other prominent Arizonans joined the movement and a Save the Bighorns poster contest was started in schools throughout the state. The contest-winning bighorn emblem was made up into neckerchief slides for the 10,000 Boy Scouts, and talks and dramatizations were given at school assemblies and on radio. The National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League, and the National Audubon Society also joined the effort.[4]

On January 18, 1939, over 1,500,000 acres (6,070 km2) of Arizona were set aside at CPNWR and at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was set up to develop high mountain waterholes for the sheep. In 1941, Major Burnham delivered the dedication speech opening CPNWR. The desert bighorn sheep is now the official mascot for the Arizona Boy Scouts and the number of sheep in these parks have increased substantially.[4] In 1989, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this refuge, a stone moment was built on the site and dedicated to the Arizona Boy Scouts and Major Burnham.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge Puts Fragile Pronghorn Population at Risk From Motorized Mayhem". Press releases. Tucson, Arizona: Center for Biological Diversity. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  2. ^ Abbey, E. 1985 letter in Postcards from Ed : dispatches and salvos from an American iconoclast, 2006, Milkweed Press, ISBN 1-57131-284-6
  3. ^ Science Applications Team, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (2013). "Bringing Sonoran Pronghorn Back from the Brink". United States Fish and Wildlife Service: Southwest Science Applications - Our Stories. Albuquerque, New Mexico: United States Department of the Interior, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Region. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  4. ^ a b c Edward H. Saxton (1978). "Saving the Desert Bighorns". Desert Magazine 41 (3). Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  5. ^ Steffens, J. C.; Macomber, R. H. (1997). "CPNWR - Tule Well". Retrieved June 30, 2013. 


  • Brochure: "Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, March 2005.

External links[edit]