Southern Arizonans are joining forces to work on sustaining the natural settings and lifestyles of the Altar alley, 600,000 acres of Sonoran Desert stretching from southwest of Tucson to the Mexican border.

The Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, was started by ranchers in the 1990s and has added representatives from other organizations, including the Nature Conservancy and scientists from the University of Arizona.

Members of the non-profit group are working to use fire as a natural resource in the valley, protecting water supplies and other preservation work.

The vast area includes a number of long-establish cattle ranches and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

The organization's leaders say their main mission is to "conserve landscapes, promote a thriving economy and sustain a resilient rural community."