Bear Creek Nature Preserve


Preserving the Bear Creek Watershed and Beyond

In 2018 the Southwest Sufi Community entered into a conservation easement with The New Mexico Land Conservancy. The agreement will protect nearly all of the approximately 1500 acres of the SSC in perpetuity. The easement covers all but about 52 acres, where the present Retreat Center and Resident Village is located.

The land within the easement will be left undeveloped. Included in the easement portion is all of the riparian zone along Bear Creek, year-round running water which is rare in southern New Mexico.

The agreement is biding in perpetuity, with The New Mexico Land Conservancy obligated to defend the easement against any and all development or degradation, and will remain in effect even in the case of the sale of any portion of the easement land. The SSC feels profoundly blessed by this opportunity to conserve this unique environment in reverence to “The Sacred Manuscript of Nature” or all future generations.

Nearby, the Gila National Forest includes more wilderness than any other national forest in the Southwest. The Gila Wilderness, the world’s first designated wilderness, was created in 1924 at the urging of the great conservation pioneer Aldo Leopold. In wilderness there are no roads; the only travel permitted is by foot or horseback.

Plants of the Land

We invite you to enjoy our ever-growing collection of images of flora friends that one might encounter on their outings into the vast wilderness of the Southwest Sufi Community Nature Preserve.

A Letter from Chant, our Resident Conservationist

January 2022


Here at the Voice of the Turtle Retreat Center and Southwest Sufi Community, conservation of Nature and restoration of Lands damaged by over a century of abuse has reached a historic moment. Using a US Fish and Wildlife grant secured by the New Mexico Land Conservancy, our fencing project is nearing completion, eliminating trespass cattle and ushering in a new era of environmental restoration.

Within a couple years we should be seeing beautiful results, especially along Bear creek, as a botanical wonderland freely unfolds from the rich soils without bovine interference. With the cattle gone and recovery underway, we will be enlisting the expertise of local outfit Stream Dynamics to restore structural integrity, water and life to our lower reaches of Bear Creek.

Amos England and I have shared several excursions into our backcountry checking on the fencing, road access, and potential creek restoration. Amos spent a few days on the backhoe up Holman Canyon re-opening the old road just enough to facilitate the fence crew access to our boundary with the Gila National Forest up there.

Last summer we hiked with field scientists checking for fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and plants that are target species for protection under our Conservation Easement. We look toward future visits to witness what will hopefully be a significant rebound in wildlife along Bear Creek, an important tributary of the Gila River.

Turns out Bear Creek is becoming a vortex of conservation and environmental restoration. A few miles downstream, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish purchased the nearly 6,000 acre Double E Ranch in 2014 to operate as an ongoing conservation and restoration site for wildlife and ecosystems. And a few miles upstream from us, the Trust for Public Lands purchased the nearly 2000 acre Bear Creek Ranch, an extensive canyon bottom property along 8 miles of upper Bear Creek in the canyon. Over a mile of the Continental Divide Trail courses along the creek. This land has been sold to the Gila National Forest to manage for conservation purposes.

We’ll keep you posted about conservation and restoration here at the Southwest Sufi Community and the Bear Creek Watershed. Activating and expanding Ziraat to care for Nature, the beautiful manifestation of Divine Creativity.

With heart,

Conservationist & SSC Resident