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KNAU and Arizona News

Tonto National Forest Obtains Former Ranch

Dan Sorensen / Western Rivers Conservancy

The Tonto National Forest has grown by 150 acres, thanks to the purchase of former ranchland near Payson along the East Verde River. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

A nonprofit called Western Rivers Conservancy purchased the Doll Baby Ranch with money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, then transferred the property to the Tonto National Forest. The purchase provides permanent legal access for the public to the Doll Baby Trailhead, which leads into a wilderness area, and to a popular route for off-road vehicles.  

The land is also part of critical habitat designated for the Mexican spotted owl, the Chiricahua leopard frog, and other threatened species. It includes a stretch of river that’s home to 10 species of native fish.

A historic barn and old corrals will be preserved on the site.

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