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Land Ownership in the Little Colorado River Plateau Basin

Land ownership, including the percentage of ownership by category is shown in Figure 2.1-2.  Principal features of land ownership are the large amount of tribal lands, the continuous band of national forest lands along the southern and southwestern boundary of the basin, and the “checkerboard” pattern of land ownership south of the reservation lands.  This distribution of land ownership has implications for land management and water development and use.  For a description of land ownership data sources and methods see Volume 1, Appendix A.   More detailed information on protected areas is found in Section 2.0.4  Land ownership categories are discussed below from largest to smallest percentage in the basin.

Indian Reservations

  • 63.9% of the land is under tribal ownership.
  • Of the 27,000 square miles of Navajo nation lands in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, more than 14,600 square miles are in Arizona.
  • The Hopi reservation encompasses about 2,500 square miles (1.5 million acres) in parts of Navajo and Coconino counties.
  • The Hopi reservation is primarily comprised of three mesas and tribal communities at Lower and Upper Moenkopi east of Tuba City.  There are areas north of Joseph City under Hopi and Navajo ownership.
  • Other tribal lands include those of the Zuni (about 16 square miles) north of Concho and Fort Apache lands (about 4.5 square miles) southwest of Greer.  The Zuni tribal lands in Arizona, “Zuni Heaven”, were formally recognized in 2004.  The Zuni also hold large, non-reservation ranch holdings in and around their reservation.
  • The Hopi Tribe holds large, non-reservation ranch holdings in the checkerboard lands area including deeded land, state leased property and Forest Service lands.
  • The community of Willow Springs is home to a small community of San Juan Southern Paiute through an agreement with the Navajo.
  • Primary land uses are grazing, mining and farming.


  • 14.8% of land ownership in the basin is private.
  • Private lands are primarily located in areas surrounding non-Indian communities and in the area between Winslow and the New Mexico border south of the Navajo reservation and north of National Forest lands.
  • Private land in-holdings are located within National Forest lands in the Nutrioso area southeast of Springerville and in other areas as shown.
  • Primary land uses are domestic, industrial and commercial.

Figure 2.1-2 Land Ownership

Click to view Figure 2.1-2 Little Colorado River Plateau Basin Land Ownership Features

National Forest

  • 10.5% of land is federally owned and managed as National Forest.
  • Forest lands are part of the Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
  • Forest lands contain the headwaters of most of the major streams and of the only major river in the basin.
  • Primary land uses are grazing, recreation and logging.

State Trust Land

  • 8% of lands are held in trust for public schools and 13 other beneficiaries under the State Trust Land system.
  • There is a large amount of contiguous state land ownership between Springerville and Saint Johns and another contiguous area adjacent to national forest lands southeast of Flagstaff.
  • Primary land use is livestock grazing.

National Park Service (NPS)

  • 1.4% of lands are under federal ownership as parks, monuments and other sites.
  • Sites identified on Figure 2.1-2 include a small portion of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, Sunset Crater National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument.
  • Primary land use is for recreational purposes.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

  • 1.2% of lands are under federal ownership by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • All lands are included in the checkerboard pattern of land ownership in Navajo and Apache counties.
  • Primary land uses are for livestock grazing.

Other (Arizona Game and Fish, County and Bureau of Reclamation Lands)

  • 0.1% is held by other landowners.
  • These lands are located in the vicinity of Springerville, southeast of Flagstaff and there are a few sections scattered in the checkerboard lands.
  • Primary land uses on Arizona Game and Fish lands is for wildlife conservation.


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