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Monday, June 24, 2024

Striking A Balance: White Tank Mountains Conservancy, Howard Hughes Lead Wildlife Linkage Project

By Katelyn Dyer

For nearly a decade, White Tank Mountains Conservancy (WTMC) has stood as a bastion of conservation during a time of rapid urbanization in the region they stand to protect. With each passing year, WTMC has upheld its mission to preserve the natural beauty of the White Tank Mountains for future generations and is proud to announce its active role in conceptualizing a new wildlife linkage between the White Tank and Belmont Mountain ranges in Buckeye, Arizona. 

This visionary initiative aims to ensure sustained connectivity for the region’s precious wildlife. This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between developers, government agencies, municipalities, and other stakeholders in the state of Arizona. 

For those who do not know, a wildlife corridor is a strip of habitat that connects two or more larger areas of similar habitat, allowing for the free movement of wildlife between them. These corridors serve as vital pathways for animals to migrate, disperse, and access resources such as food, water, mates, and shelter. They are essential for maintaining genetic diversity within populations and ensuring the long-term survival of many species by facilitating their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Wildlife corridors can be natural, such as rivers, mountain ranges, or forests, or they can be human-made, such as overpasses, underpasses, or designated wildlife crossings.

White Tank Mountains Conservancy is dedicated to and focused on working together with private sector and government partners to conceptualize what this beautiful area will look like in 10, 20, and 50 years,” says Sharma Torrens, Executive Director of White Tank Mountains Conservancy. “With collaboration, coordination, and innovation, we have developed a thoughtful linkage plan that will allow for sustainable development and the conservation of an important regional wildlife corridor for generations to come.”    

As this project for future planning unfolded, WTMC was proud to receive the immediate support of Howard Hughes Holdings, the developer behind Teravalis, the 37,000-acre master planned community emerging along the Sun Valley Parkway in Buckeye.

“In the past, we have hit roadblocks in bringing the right people to the table to tackle wildlife and ecosystem issues in the face of development and urbanization,” says Torrens. “With their track record of responsible development of open spaces over the last six decades across the country, we are thankful for Howard Hughes leadership in this conversation and to bring others into the fold.” 

From a developer’s standpoint, Howard Hughes is stepping up to the plate to support WTMC’s conservation efforts by recognizing that sustainable development is more than brick and mortar — it is about fostering a community between the two mountain ranges.

“We’re proud to collaborate with White Tank Mountains Conservancy as we envision, plan, and develop Teravalis with respect to its natural environment,” says David O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer of Howard Hughes. “As a community builder, it is our responsibility to thoughtfully integrate the new community of Teravalis with its surroundings and create habitats where all walks of life can live, grow, and thrive.”

With a shared vision of blending built and natural environments, Teravalis, WTMC, and other stakeholders are forging pathways towards a community where both wildlife and humans coexist seamlessly. 

To date, WTMC is working with Howard Hughes and Teravalis, LKY Development, BA Pacific, Pulte Homes, City of Buckeye, City of Surprise, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Maricopa County Flood Control District, Tartesso, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, and the Bureau of Land Management on the linkage. For more information and updates on the wildlife linkage project, please visit www.wtmconservancy.org/connectivity-initiative

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