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Securing Arizona's Water Future
Land Ownership in the Lower Gila Basin

Land ownership, including the percentage of ownership by category, for the Lower Gila Basin is shown in Figure 7.4-2.  Principal features of land ownership in this basin are the large areas of military and national wildlife refuge lands.  A description of land ownership data sources and methods is found in Volume 1, Appendix A.  More detailed information on protected areas is found in Section 7.0.4.  Land ownership categories are discussed below in the order of largest to smallest percentage in the basin.

U.S. Military

  • 38.8% of the land is federally owned and managed by the U.S. Military.
  • U.S. Military lands in the basin include the Yuma Proving Ground and the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range.
  • Primary land use is military activity.

Wildlife Refuge

  • 23.4% of the land is federally owned and managed as National Wildlife Refuges (NWR).
  • Most of two National Wildlife Refuges are located in this basin, the 665,000 acre Kofa NWR and the 857,000 acre Cabeza Prieta NWR.  Part of the Imperial NWR is located along the California State boundary.
  • Land uses include resource conservation, wildlife protection and recreation.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

  • 20.9% of the land is federally owned and managed by the Lower Sonoran and Yuma Field Offices of the Bureau of Land Management.
  • This basin contains 138,700 acres of wilderness.  Including 64,000 acres of the 100,000 acre Eagletail Mountains Wilderness, the 38,000 acre Muggins Mountains Wilderness, 15,000 acres of the 64,000 acre Woolsey Peak Wilderness and 12,000 acres of the 13,000 acre Signal Mountain Wilderness. (See Figure 7.0-12)
  • Land uses include grazing, resource conservation and recreation.


  • 5.8% of the land is private.
  • Land uses include agriculture, domestic and commercial.

State Trust Land

  • 4.5% of the land is held in trust for the public schools and five other beneficiaries under the State Trust Land system.
  • Land uses include agriculture and grazing.

National Park Service (NPS)

  • 3.9% of the land is federally owned and managed by the National Park Service as the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
  • Land uses include resource conservation and recreation.

Indian Reservation

  • 2.3% of the land is under tribal ownership as the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.
  • Primary land use is grazing.

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

  • 0.4% of the land is federally owned and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR).
  • This land contains pump stations for the canals that are operated by the USBOR.


Click here for Figure 7.4-2

Figure 7.4-2 Lower Gila Basin Land Ownership





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References and Supplemental Reading for the Lower Gila Basin

Colorado River
Lower Colorado River Planning Area
Click to download Volume 7
Imperial Dam
Welton Mohawk Agriculture