(The green on either side of AZ 286 is the Buenos Ares NWR)
I wasn't planning to go the Buenos Ares National Wildlife Refuge today Saturday, 2/20/16 (Day 48). In fact, I didn't know about it. My plan was to go to Arivaca, AZ, the other end of Ruby Road, and head south towards Ruby and cover that portion of road I didn't cover the other day. (Forest Service Road #39). See separate post on Ruby Road Revisited.
When I had to turn around on the Arivaca end of Ruby Road, I decided since I had an early start to the day, I would drive to the border town of Sasabe, AZ further to the west and see what it is like.
On my way out of Arivaca, headed west, I saw a turnoff with this map showing me the Buenos Ares National Wildlife Refuge and there visitor center was just north of Sasabe on AZ 286.
I continued on and turned south on AZ 286 to Sasabe, AZ. Above is the most prominent building in town, with the US Post Office to the right that has very limited service.
This is the smallest of towns, but there is a border crossing.
This is the visitor center. Most of the Refuge land was a ranch and it was purchased in the mid 80's by the Federal Government to preserve and to restore the land that had been adversely impacted when the land was settled in the 1800's and natural grassland was destroyed by over grazing.
I understand that mostly birdwatchers come here for the verity and uniqueness of the birds that stay or visit here.
I was greeted by an employee of the Reserve who asked politely if I had time to look around. He asked in a way that I got the impression that many nonbirdwatchers don't take the time to look around and watch the 20 minute historical and informative video. I stayed and watched with curiosity.
This is an out of the way place that there is no reason to come this way unless this is what you were coming for. If you come, and I recommend you do, get gas before you come and bring everything else you need because it is miles and miles to a decent store.
On that rise is the boader crossing in Sasabe. I saw one car go south into Mexico. I asked the guide showing me around at the reserve if it was safe to go over the boarder to Sasabe, Mexico. He gave an quick no! He said it is dangerous unlike Nogalas, Mexico where tourists go from the US.
The reserve consists of 118,000 acres. There are over 100 Primative campsites on over 200 miles of roads. (See separate post on Buenos Ares NWR Camping)
With the loss of grass from over grazing the lands local animals and birds left and shrub trees grew. Rains could not absorb into the grass/soil anymore. Where there were no washes for runoff, now the land is carved by them from erosion.
The Reserve has undergone restoration of the grasslands. This is Pronghorn Drive that takes you around the visitor center area.
They have brought back are continuing to bring back the Bobwhite Quail.
They have brought back Pronghorns. Other birds and animals came back
The Reserve has also acquired the Brown Canyon northwest of the visitor center where they offer Environmental Education. See http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Buenos_Aires/visit/activities/brown_canyon.html
I drove the length of AZ 286 where it meets the reserve and the countryside is beautiful.
My trip took me back through Arivaca and Valley Manor to pick up I19.
The Longhorn Grill is in the center of this town and you can't miss the long horns.