Conservation Corner

Arizona's Conservation Districts Newsletter

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Sponsored by the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts

Conserving Arizona Since 1944

October 2021

Meet Your Local Conservationist

AACD's Newest Executive Committee Member Tim Grandy,

Cropland Committee Chair


Tim’s family moved from Idaho to Arizona in 1917, making him a 4th generation farmer in the Buckeye Valley. Tim’s wife also comes from a long line of farmers – her family has farmed in Arizona for five generations. Two of their four sons continue to carry on the family tradition of working in agriculture. Tim and his son have a small cow-calf operation of mostly registered Angus cattle, with a few Belted Galloways in the mix “just because we like the looks of them”!

For 40 of his 41-year career at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tim worked as a Soil Conservation Technician where he executed the planning, design, installation, and certification of conservation practices relating to irrigated cropland and rangeland management, working directly with local farmers and ranchers, and often served as the Government Representative on Emergency Watershed Protection project across the state.

Since retirement in 2018, Tim has served on the Buckeye Valley NRCD Board and is currently the Vice Chairman. He continues his work with ranchers and farmers across the state as an irrigation efficiency consultant, putting his knowledge and experience from his years at the NRCS to continued good use for the betterment of Arizona agriculture.


Districts Spotlight

Districts All Over the State Hold Best Management Practices Workshops for the Sonoran Desert Tortoise

Districts across the state are working hard to keep grazing an active part of land management in Arizona throughout Sonoran Desert tortoise territory. They are providing important workshops to educate ranchers, other land managers, and other interested stakeholders about best management practices for ranching in Sonoran Desert tortoise habitat. This effort began several years ago when the Winkelman NRCD and the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts worked with federal and state agencies to develop a guide for ranchers operating in Sonoran Desert tortoise habitat in an effort to keep the species unlisted. 

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3 workshops held so far with over 90 attendees

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Want to catch the next workshop? November 9th, Prescott, AZ

November 10th, Wikieup, AZ

For more information contact:

For readers unfamiliar with tortoise species, there are currently two recognized sub-populations of desert tortoise in the United States, the Sonoran and the Mojave. A third species, the Sinaloan, lives in eastern Sonora, Mexico and into northern Sinaloa, Mexico. The Mojave population is found in the Mojave Desert in southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and southeastern California. The Sonoran Desert tortoise’s habitat includes nearly 75% of Arizona–significantly the western, southwestern, and central parts of the state south and east of the Colorado River In 1990, the entire Mojave population was listed as threatened and in 1994, 6.45 million acres were designated as critical habitat for the Mojave population in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. As one can imagine, ranching in these regions was  severely impacted since grazing was determined as one of several possible  factors  contributing to the tortoise’s decline in population.

In 2008, a petition to list the Sonoran Desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act was put forth. In 2010, the FWS determined the tortoise warranted protection, however there were higher priority species to be listed at the time and it was decided the Sonoran Desert tortoise would be reviewed annually. While grazing was not considered a contributing factor to the threat of the species, producers and Districts in Arizona saw what happened with the Mojave Desert tortoise formed the Ranching and Sonoran Desert Tortoise Working Group in 2011 to address any potential grazing effects. 


The Working Group–made up of resource specialists from state and federal land and resource management agencies and, most importantly, included four ranchers: Bill Dunn, Stefanie Smallhouse, Walt Meyer, and Francie Meyer—collaborated to preempt grazing being identified as a threat and to keep the species off the list by developing the Best Management Practices for Ranching in Sonoran Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) Habitat in Arizona Guidebook. The guidebook is just that, a guide meant to assist ranchers in implementing conservation measures during day-to-day operations to reduce and/or eliminate potential grazing effects on the Sonoran Desert tortoise. It is also intended to help guide officials who are unfamiliar with ranching to make better decisions regarding livestock and tortoise management.


In 2015, the FWS determined that the Sonoran Desert tortoise was not facing the threat of extinction and removed from the candidate list. However, in July 2020, WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project challenged the 2015 decision and the FWS reached an agreement with them to place the SDT back on the endangered species candidate list, re-evaluate its status and reach a decision in 18 months. That decision is slated to be made by February of 2022. 

In response to this possible re-listing, Districts are reemphasizing the Guidebook and holding best management practices workshops (based on the Guidebook) for land managers and stakeholders in an effort to encourage conservation practices that work with the land, the tortoise’s habitat, and livestock production.

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Want to learn more about the Sonoran Desert tortoise?

Click on the button below to be taken to the Best Management Practices for Ranching in Sonoran Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) Habitat in Arizona Guidebook.

Click Here

Monitoring Tips

Looking for some quick tips on monitoring? This article contains practical suggestions for deciding how to monitor rangelands. Sections are referenced to parts of the “Guide to Rangeland Assessment and Monitoring” published by the Arizona Grazing Lands Conservation Association in 2012 that provides further information on the topic. The original publication was a joint effort written by experts in the field, including Lamar Smith, author of this article. 

Click Here for the Full Article

New emails

Hello all! 


Effective December 1st, your AACD staff will no be able longer receive emails at the following addresses:  



Our NEW addresses will be the following: 



Please, please update your email contacts to reflect the changes!  And please pass along the news to whoever you think may not see this! 




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