Caretakers Wanted: Serene, Isolated Desert Wildlife Refuge


Yesterday I had the privilege of spending a morning and afternoon in an Arizona desert canyon closed to the public.  Turns out they’re looking for a canyon caretaker!

brown canyon buenos aires national wildlife refuge

The Canyon is off-limits to the public, but frequented by botanists, environmental ed groups, and the occasional tour group.

Update Nov 13 – they’ve got some solid applicants.  I’ll repost the information about the position if none of the current applicants work out.  In the meantime, check out:

Happy Travels! ♣

I don’t know everything about the position, so consider these very unofficial lists of hearsay and imagination regarding what the position involves:

3 month minimum commitment, potential for long term (years of) care taking.

3 bedroom house with artist’s studio, all utilities provided.  A/C is a swamp cooler.

No internet access, no cell-phone reception.  Landline provided.

Caretaker duties to include some logistics for groups who use the canyon facilities, some care and maintenance of canyon facilities and environment.

I imagine those with the following characteristics to be most happy in the position:

excitement about living remotely and alone.  The provided housing is several minutes (a few miles) down a dirt road behind a locked gate.  While groups and scientists come and go, there is lots of time spent alone.  The nearest tiny communities with restaurants and mercantile are 30 and 40 minutes away.  Tucson, Arizona is an hour and 15 minute drive.

ability to be happy without television or internet.  The closest (provided) internet is about ten miles away at the refuge visitor’s center.

experience living off grid or an eagerness to learn (without YouTube!) – think generators, pumps, solar panels, and decades-old plumbing and facilities… with no hardware store just around the corner.

a love of the desert.  If sunny, dry, often hot weather is your cup of tea, this is for you!  Of course the winter months are upon us… but yesterday’s mid-November temps still reached the mid-80s.

a love of being outside – a good deal of the caretaker work will take place outdoors.

a love wildlife, especially birders.  The canyon is known as excellent birding territory.

a passion for conservation – interest in the refuge’s mission will increase your joy in executing the caretaker duties.

comfort living close to the border – none of the volunteers or caretakers have had problems and there is a very, very, very strong border patrol presence in the area.  However, if you still feel insecure even in the face of all these facts, then this position may not be for you.

tolerance for bureaucracy – this is federal land, and I believe you would be considered federal volunteers.

an adaptable diet.  Living far from supply chains and eating healthy means growing-your-own, preserving, or eating long-lasting staple foods.  Of course, if you’re happy eating out of boxes and cans, then your culinary creativity won’t need any exercise.

I’m not sure you’d need your own high-clearance vehicle.  The refuge owns a few vehicles of this caliber that volunteers drive around.  However, the secure location for your low-clearance personal vehicle would probably be at the refuge visitor’s center, which would add an additional 50 minutes to any personal travel (25 minutes down to the visitor center, then 25 back up to go to Tucson or Arivaca.  On the other hand, it would only add 10 minutes of you re-supplied in Sasabe, the border town, which is past the visitor’s center).

I personally think an individual would get too lonely here, but who am I to judge?

In order to keep the already understaffed individuals responsible for the canyon from having to deal with hundreds of dead-end phone calls and emails from you, the would-be caretaker, I am creating a small barrier to entry.  Any serious caretaker will easily bust right through not having a direct link right to the contact information, and will happily peruse the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge website themselves to figure out who to contact about the canyon.

Others who are less enthusiastic or who have no desire to live in Arizona can check out:

How to Become a Full-time House Sitter

The Best (and Worst) House Sitting Websites



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