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Land Ownership in the Safford Basin

Land ownership, including the percentage of ownership in each category, for the Safford Basin is shown in Figure 3.10-2.  A principal feature of land ownership is the diversity of land ownership types, eight total.  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 3.0.4.  Land ownership categories are discussed below in the order from largest to smallest percentage in the basin.

Indian Reservations

  • 29.5% of land is under ownership of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
  • Tribal lands are located in the northern quarter of the basin.
  • The basin contains the San Carlos Apache tribal headquarters in San Carlos and the San Carlos Apache cultural center in Peridot.
  • Primary land uses are domestic, commercial, farming, grazing and mining.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

  • 29.0% of land is federally owned and managed by the Safford Field Office of the U.S. BLM.
  • Most of the BLM land occurs in a wide band along the eastern portion of the basin. 

  • The basin contains the entire Dos Cabezas Mountain Wilderness, North Santa Teresa, and Fishooks Wilderness areas. (see Figure 3.0-12)

  • Portions of the Peloncillo Wilderness Area and Gila Box National Conservation Area  are also in the basin.

  • Primary land uses are grazing and recreation.

State Trust Land

  • 16.3% of land in this basin is held in trust for public schools and 13 other beneficiaries under the State Trust Lands system.
  • Many of the state owned lands in this basin are fragmented, however, significant contiguous portions exist west of Swift Trail Junction, in a band surrounding the Coronado National Forest east of Safford, and north and south of Interstate 10.
  • Primary land use is grazing.

Click to view Figure 3.10-2

Click to view Figure 3.10-2 Safford Basin

Land Ownership

National Forest

  • 12.6% of land is federally owned and managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). 
  • The basin includes two National Forests and three ranger districts: the Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District in the north; and the Coronado National Forest, Safford Ranger District east of Safford, and the Douglas Ranger District in the south.
  • Two wilderness areas are located within the basin.  Most of the Santa Teresa Wilderness is located in the northern portion of the Safford Ranger District and a portion of the Chiricahua Wilderness is located in the Douglas Ranger District. (see Figure 3.0-12)
  • Primary land uses are grazing, recreation and timber production.


  • 12.0% of land is private.
  • Small parcels of private land are scattered throughout the basin. 
  • The largest continuous blocks of private land are along Highway 70 in the vicinity of Safford, along Interstate 10 and around Highway 80 in the southern portion of the basin.
  • Primary land uses are farming, domestic, commercial and mining.

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

  • 0.3% of land is state owned and managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • The basin contains two wildlife areas, the May Memorial Wildlife Area in T17S, R31E and the Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area T7S, R24E.
  • Primary land uses are wildlife protection and recreation.

U.S. Military

  • 0.2% of the land is federally owned and managed by the U.S. Military.
  • A U.S. Military Reserve is located near Swift Trail Junction in T7S, R25E.
  • Primary land use is military activities.

National Park Service (NPS)

  • 0.1% of the land is federally owned and managed by the National Park Service (NPS).
  • The basin contains two NPS units, the Fort Bowie National Historic Site in T15S, R28E and a very small portion of the Chiricahua National Monument in T16S, R30E.
  • Primary land uses are recreation and resource protection.



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Farming in Safford Lake on San Carlos Reservation