Notice of re-opening portions of Public Lands within Las Cienegas National Conservation Area

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Gila District is re-opening portions of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA) that were closed due to the recent Sawmill fire. 


Areas south and west of the 900 road are now open. The public may access the Empire Ranch Headquarters through the main entrances off highways 82 and 83. However, the Heritage Discovery Trail, all parts of the Empire Gulch, and all other burned areas remain closed for further emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.


The BLM issued an emergency closure on April 28 for public safety. A post-fire assessment revealed burned cottonwood trees weakened by the fire and numerous ash sinkholes in the Empire Gulch and Heritage Discovery Trail areas near the Empire Ranch Headquarters. In addition, hazards were found along portions of Cienega Creek and connected streams. 


“The BLM is continuing to stabilize and make repairs in the remaining closed areas to ensure public safety,” said Las Cienegas Manager Karen Simms. “Once the areas are deemed safe, we will notify the public and our partners and stakeholders. This process will take some time, but our goal is to provide access to the entire NCA as soon as possible.”


Gates and signage have been placed in the remaining closed areas and BLM Law Enforcement will make periodic patrols in the areas to ensure public safety.


The Sawmill Fire was reported on Sunday, April 23, off Highway 83, near Sonoita, Ariz.

The fire burned approximately 47,000 acres, including over 12,000 acres on the NCA. Additional information on the Sawmill Fire is available at    


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Gila District Office


June Lowery