Canyon and creek feature secluded scenery and habitat
(PHOENIX—January 31, 2013) Today, Aravaipa Creek was featured as the Arizona “River of the Month” in a year-long series celebrating the state’s rivers in honor of its centennial year. The short profile released today by five conservation groups is the eleventh in a year-long series and highlights the river’s ecology, geography, and use by the people who rely on it.
Aravaipa Creek originates 50 miles northeast of Tucson and flows westward, encompassing rugged terrain and a remote canyon. Its 10-mile long central canyon was designated a wilderness area in 1984 to preserve the secluded scenery and habitat. Today, The Nature Conservancy owns and protects the 9,000-acre Aravaipa Canyon Preserve on the east and west ends of the canyon.
Aravaipa Creek’s year-round flows and healthy riparian forest of cottonwood, willow, walnut, alder and sycamore trees provide 17 miles of habitat for a wide variety of species including one of the most diverse populations of native desert fishes remaining in Arizona. These include the endangered spikedace and loach minnow, as well as roundtail chub, speckled dace and desert sucker. More than 200 species of birds have also been observed along Aravaipa Creek, including the peregrine falcon, many hawk species and migratory songbirds.
Given the protected status of much of the Aravaipa watershed, human use of the creek centers around recreational activities such as hiking and wildlife-watching, and also includes small amounts of groundwater pumping for farming and livestock grazing in privately owned areas of the watershed.
“This river is unique in its offering of relatively untrammeled wilderness,” say the conservation groups who created today’s profile. “Aravaipa Creek is a desert stream worth visiting and celebrating—and continuing to protect in order to preserve this unique Arizona place for generations to come.”
The River of the Month series profiles one of Arizona’s rivers each month. It is produced by Environmental Defense Fund, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Sonoran Institute, and Western Resource Advocates, with technical assistance provided by the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center. Previous profiles—starting with a feature of the iconic Colorado River—may be downloaded from Environmental Defense Fund, Sonoran Institute, or Western Resource Advocates, and interested groups and individuals may sign up here to receive a notification when a new profile is released.
Aravaipa Canyon photo courtesy of BLM