Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
|Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Entering the Refuge via El Camino del Diablo, 2004
|Location||Yuma County / Pima County, Arizona, United States|
|Nearest city||Yuma, AZ|
|Area||860,010 acres (3,480.3 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona in the United States. The refuge, established in 1939 to protect Desert Bighorn Sheep, is located along 56 miles (90 km) of the U.S.-Mexico border, and covers 860,010 acres (3,480 km²) — 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 the Cabeza Prieta as "the best desert wilderness left in the USA."
Cabeza Prieta Wilderness Area
803,418 acres (3,251 km²) 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. It is the third largest national wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states. The refuge is administered from offices in Ajo, Arizona.
Featured species include
- desert pocket mouse
- desert bighorn sheep
- common collared lizard
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Vermilion Flycatcher
- Gambel's Quail
In 1936, the Arizona boy scouts mounted a state-wide campaign to save the bighorn sheep, leading to the creation of the Cabeza Prieta wildlife refuge. 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.
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 Audubon Society also joined the effort.
On January 18, 1939, over 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of Arizona were set aside at Cabeza Prieta 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 Cabeza Prieta. 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. 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.
The most popular time to visit the refuge is between November and March. The required permit is free and can be obtained at the refuge office in Ajo, Arizona, or by mail. A local organization gives evening presentations on the history, flora, and fauna during these months. Only lawfully-killed game may be taken from the area.
There are several safety recommendations.
- It is strongly recommended that visitors not attempt to drive through the refuge after a rain, because the road, El Camino del Diablo, can be damaged or impassable when wet.
- Four-wheel drive is required on the central refuge and two spare tires and replacement parts should be brought along.
- Traveling in a group rather than alone is recommended.
- The area has been used for aerial bombing, and unexploded ordnance should be left undisturbed.
- At least two gallons of water, sunscreen, all food, and toilet items must be brought in and non-biodegradable materials must be packed out.
- List of flora of the Sonoran Desert Region by common name
- Category: Fauna of the Sonoran Desert
- Category: Protected areas of the Sonoran Desert
- Abbey, E. 1985 letter in Postcards from Ed : dispatches and salvos from an American iconoclast, 2006, Milkweed Press, ISBN 1-57131-284-6
- Edward H. Saxton (March 1978). "Saving the Desert Bighorns". Desert Magazine 41 (3). Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.|
- Official Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge website
- Cabeza Prieta Natural History Association
- The short film Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge Desert Wilderness (2006) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]