CAMP VERDE -- The Nature Conservancy has partnered with Park Central Farm to protect 595 acres of land near the Verde River in Camp Verde.
Four organizations, Hauser & Hauser Farms, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Arizona Game & Fish Department and the Nature Conservancy finalized a land agreement to prevent future development on Park Central Farm, according to a release issued by the conservancy.
The 595-acre property not only hosts the largest farm in Camp Verde, but also ponds and 230 acres of stream-side forest – the home of cranes, turtles, otters and other wildlife, according to the Nature Conservancy. The now-protected farm is located adjacent to Rockin’ River Ranch State Park, commonly used for fishing and kayaking.
The land agreement will preserve natural wildlife in addition to serving educational purposes within the Verde Valley, according to Kim Schonek, projects manager at the conservancy. The agreement will also ensure the local farms will continue to operate.
“I’m a fourth-generation farmer,” said Kevin Hauser, owner of Hauser & Hauser Farms. “Our family provides fresh produce for people while supporting our local economy. We’ve always been conservation-minded and forward-thinking. This is a great example of collaboration between agriculture, agencies, [the conservancy] and philanthropy to keep more water in the river.”
The conservancy often looks to grants to fund projects, according to Schonek. The Nina Mason Pulliam Trust donated $3 million to support the conservancy’s projects, including the funding to secure the land agreement with Park Central Farm.
“The Nature Conservancy has been working with partners to develop innovative projects – such as the Verde River Exchange and irrigation efficiency – to increase the flow of the Verde River to ensure people and nature thrive together,” says Patrick Graham, Arizona’s Nature Conservancy director. “Arizona’s water challenges will be solved by people of good intention working together. This historic agreement, only made possible through collaboration and partnerships, is a leading example.”