A New Model for Green Living in the American Southwest

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Developers contribute to life of land and people who live there.

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In the heart of Southern Arizona’s Sky Islands, a new model of residential development focuses as much on planting oak trees and harvesting water as it does on building adobe walls and patios with panoramic views.

Three Canyons is a development design that contributes both to the life of the land and the people who live there, according to Conservation Properties developers David Parsons and Denny Hubbell. They envision restoring this onetime cattle ranch to the lush savanna grassland and cienega wetland it was 150 years ago – before the impact of the railroad, woodcutting and overgrazing.

Three Canyons is a new development of 198 homes just north of Patagonia, a quintessentially Western town of 1000. Ninety-five percent of the 1760-acre site will remain open space. This land lies within the Sonoita Creek watershed corridor, an area known for its unique biodiversity of plants, animals and migratory birds.

The land restoration plan begins with harvesting water, thinning scrub mesquites and planting thousands of oak trees. The developers also are investing in the local community and partnering with Arizona non-profit organizations.

This high country grassland is one of seven “Secluded Hideaways” featured in Men’s Journal in April 2006. Patagonia also was selected one of the “Best American Dream Towns” by Outside magazine in August 2004.

The three canyons within this development lie between two sections of the Coronado National Forest west of Highway 82. Already the wild grasses have returned since cattle were removed two years ago. The land is also part of the Tucson Audubon Society’s Important Birding Area, preserving a large wildlife corridor along Sonoita Creek.

Components of this unique development include:

  •     Creating a 995-acre conservation easement held by the non-profit Sonoran Institute and preserving additional lands through deed restrictions.
  •     Establishing a non-profit stewardship organization, La Semilla to support to the local community of Patagonia with annual financial contributions.
  •     Hiring a seasoned local naturalist to head La Semilla and oversee restoration of the Three Canyons land.
  •     Founding Sonoita Creek Farms, a community sustainable agriculture farm that will supply residents with organic herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers, plus oak seedlings for the land restoration.

Luther Propst, Executive Director of the Sonoran Institute, said, “Three Canyons is an excellent example of a growing national trend of new communities with closer ties to the nature that surrounds them. It is setting a new standard in southern Arizona. Denny Hubble and David Parsons have made the deliberate and thoughtful decision to build Three Canyons in a manner that respects the both land and the people around Patagonia. The partnership between Three Canyons and La Semilla will help protect important wildlife corridors for all to enjoy.”

The Three Canyon developers have deep connections to the land. Originally from Zimbabwe, South Africa, David Parsons is a second-generation rancher who believes that when people honor the earth’s natural cycles, the potential of almost any land can be achieved. His father was one of the pioneers of rotational grazing. Hubbell is a sixth-generation New Mexican whose ancestors founded the historic Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, Arizona. The two met while working for the Heritage Ranch Group, a leading ranch preservation subdivision in New Mexico. They selected naturalist Jeffrey Cooper to head the non-profit stewardship organization that is integral to Three Canyons. A longtime Patagonia resident, Cooper worked with The Nature Conservancy in Arizona for 13 years at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, the Muleshoe Ranch in Willcox and Hassayampa Preserve in Wickenberg.

Mary Dahl, Director of Community Development for Santa Cruz County said, “Conservation Properties has produced exactly the kind of smart, green development we want to see in Santa Cruz County. Their set-aside of open space for Three Canyons goes well beyond our expectations.”

This new model of green development has many facets – from ranchers and environmentalists sharing a vision to the science of grassland restoration and synergetic partnerships to preserve community character. For more information, visit http://www.threecanyons.com or call 888-828-9122.

Conservation Properties, Inc.

Conservation Properties identifies and regenerates ecologically vital land in beautiful settings and protects it forever. The company develops areas large enough, and with enough biodiversity, to be of significant conservation value.


For a complete media kit, photos, interviews or to schedule a site tour, contact Paula Schaper at WestWordVision: 888 394-2575.

(Photos available)


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