ACE Basin

Magazine Articles

Nature Takes Over

August/September 2016

3 places where old infrastructure is getting a new life

Set out from Santa Fe

An elevation of 7,000 feet spares the city of Santa Fe from the extreme summer heat found in many parts of the Southwest, making for perfect hiking weather much of the year. No need to go far—a trail network in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is about 2 miles from downtown. At the heart of the trail system is Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, a former hydroelectric site donated to The Nature Conservancy in 2000. Remnants of a 19th-century stone dam are visible along the 1.5-mile interpretive loop, but today you’ll also see the work of beavers in the restored habitats along the Santa Fe River. Further afield, Santa Fe National Forest offers more challenging trails for hiking.

Paddle Through History

Rice was king in South Carolina's low country until the civil war ended slave-dependent agriculture. Today, former rice plantations provide nesting habitat for huge numbers of wading birds, and the surrounding black waters offer endless opportunities for paddling. Outfitters in Charleston and Beaufort lead trips in the ACE Basin—the confluence of the Ashepoo. Combahee and Edisto rivers. The Conservancy and its partners have protected more than 217,000 acres of land here, including the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, which the Conservancy transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. The site’s historic antebellum mansion (above) now serves as a visitors center.

Visit the Ranch

Follow the herd--of 600 cattle, that is—at Red Canyon Ranch, where the Conservancy is studying sustainable grazing practices. Hike trails through wildflower fields and along streams in the Wind River Mountains, home to moose, bighorn sheep and elk. In June, join the annual Butterfly Blitz to monitor the populations of these important pollinators.