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Conservationists buy ranch within Petrified Forest

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Two conservation groups have bought a ranch at Petrified Forest National Park to protect the land from development.

The park in eastern Arizona is known for its rainbow-colored petrified wood, fossils from the dawning age of dinosaurs and petroglyphs.

The Conservation Fund and the National Parks Conservation Association announced the $1.2 million purchase of 4,265 acres Thursday. The groups plan to sell the land to the National Park Service later this year.

Congress expanded the boundaries of the park in 2004 to 218,500 acres, but it did not immediately appropriate money to purchase the private inholdings. The Park Service plans to use private donations and money from a federal land program to buy the McCauley Ranch land.

Conservationists say they're concerned about potash mining within the park.

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