The Natural Resources Division is responsible for programs that protect and enhance the current and future value of State Trust land. These programs include rangeland management, water resource management, off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation on State Trust land, trespass, and environmental response. The State Land Commissioner is also the Commissioner of the State’s Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCDs), which the Natural Resources Division administers through its NRCD Program. The NRCD Program is the only program at ASLD that extends beyond the boundaries of State land.
Coordinated Resource Management
Rangeland management on Arizona’s State Trust land is a mutual effort between the Land Department and its grazing lessees. Livestock grazing takes place on more acres of State Trust land than any other use. As part of a multi-generational trust, this is a low-risk portion of the overall portfolio that provides a consistent and reliable income to the trust beneficiaries.
Rangeland Management Responsibilities
- Developing Coordinated Resource Management Plans for grazing leases
- Conducting rangeland monitoring
- Conducting clearances on range improvement and land treatment projects to prevent or mitigate the impacts of these projects on protected plant, wildlife and cultural resources
- Providing recommendations to the Real Estate Division for preventing or mitigating the impacts of commercial, right of way and sales projects on State Trust rangeland
- Coordinating efforts with federal and private land managers
- Providing Land Department representation to various collaborative groups which are addressing rangeland management issues
Sources of Funding for Rangeland Management
The Arizona Legislature does not provide any funding for the Land Department to institute any agency-initiated management practices on State Trust rangeland. The Land Department relies on its grazing lessees to expend their own money to initiate management practices on their leases.
Such management practices are water sources (such as wells and stock tanks), water distribution systems (pipelines), handling facilities (corrals), livestock control measures (fencing), and various types of land treatments to remove undesirable plant species (prescribed fire, grubbing, agra-axe, root plowing, chaining, herbicides, reseeding, etc. Such management practices, when implemented as part of a Coordinated Resources Management Plan, can provide a grazing lessee more flexibility in planning grazing to insure plant health and stability, and proper nutrient and energy cycling. These practices also greatly improve habitat for various species of wildlife on State Trust land.
Trespass and Environmental Programs
The Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) offers holders of recreation permits a wide variety of opportunities to recreate on State Trust land in accordance with municipal, county and state laws governing access. Occasionally, however, those without permission enter State Trust land, which violates the law.
Like many crimes, illegal occupancy of Trust land ranges from minor to major offenses. Even people walking their dogs on Trust land in their community must have a Recreational Use Permit.
Most intrusions involve illegal dumping, unauthorized construction of trails, roads or utilities placed without a right-of-way, and commercial or agricultural trespass. Trespass Investigators also respond to numerous other concerns: everything from off-highway vehicles (OHV) complaints, dust, squatters, trash, environmental issues (solid waste), target shooting, fire fuel complaints, and weeds, among others.
Help Protect the Trust from Trash!
Cleaning up illegal dump sites is part of the Land Department’s stewardship efforts. A small fund is dedicated to assisting volunteers in clean-ups of Trust Land. We have had volunteers from all walks of life volunteer their time to help keep State Trust Land clean: Boy Scouts earning merit badges, adult probationers working off their community service time, prison inmates, civic groups and school children. City, County and Federal government agencies also provide support, as do other state agencies.
If you have a group that would like to help clean-up State Trust Land, call 602-542-2119.
Water Rights Section
The Water Rights Section provides support to the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) on water related issues, and consists of three programs: Contractual Water. Water Rights and Well Registration.
ASLD manages a diverse water portfolio. It allows customers to utilize water on and off State Trust Land and to enhance the value of State Trust land.
- Water Use Leases/Special Land Use Permits–Applicants may use groundwater on State Trust land for non-irrigation purposes. Pumped groundwater will be assessed a water charge based on reported pumping, use, location and current market rates.
- Water Sales – Groundwater removed from State Trust land requires an auction. Scheduled auctions can be viewed here. If you are interested in applying for a Public Auction Water Sale, the Department requires a pre-application meeting prior to submittal.
- Contract Administration - The Department holds a Central Arizona Project (CAP) Municipal & Industrial (M&I) subcontract and two Colorado River contracts (Irrigation and Domestic).
- Will Serve Letter – For lands planned under the Urban Lands Act, coordinate with the Department’s Planning Section to obtain a commitment for water service from private water companies or/and municipal water providers. Additionally, the Department typically requires a commitment of water service as condition of a pre-annexation development agreement.
ASLD filed several thousand claims for surface and groundwater use in the General Stream Adjudications (Little Colorado River and Gila River watersheds). Currently, most of these claims are for stock and wildlife use, approximately 90% of State Trust land is classified for grazing. The Department holds water rights for irrigation and non-irrigation purposes within the Active Management Areas (AMAs) and irrigation authorities in the Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs).
- Type 2 Rights - Inside AMAs, ASLD holds several Type 2 Non-Irrigation Grandfathered Groundwater Rights (Type 2 Rights). Type 2 Rights are available for leasing on and off State Trust land. The cost of leasing a Type 2 Right is based on current market value per acre-foot.
The Department investigates new and existing wells and coordinates with customers to ensure wells on State Trust Land are in compliance with Arizona Department of Water Resources requirements.
Contact [email protected] for more information regarding wells on State Trust land or to report an unsafe well.