There’s something irresistible about a streak of luxurious trees snaking across a dry valley. The San Pedro River in Arizona offers a prime example of this desert aesthetic, and it calls out to visitors even more when they realize the importance of the place.
The San Pedro is one of the last rivers standing in the Southwest, so to speak, still undammed and unregulated. The river naturally collects runoff from the surrounding mountains – ranges with great names like the Dragoon, Mustang and Whetstone – on the way north from its Mexican headwaters. The flow supports a continuous 40-mile long forest of cottonwoods and willows.
The river provides some the continent’s best habitat for birds as it snakes through the 57,000 acre San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Some species use it the way we might use an interstate highway - just passing through. Others call the trees that line the bank home for a part or all of the year. Hummingbirds, flycatchers, tanagers and raptors can be found in abundance here, along with the enthusiasts who travel from around the globe to catch a glimpse.
Story by Adam Milnor, BLM Arizona; photos by Bob Wick, BLM
Every Drop Counts; The Importance of Water and Partnership
June is the driest time of the year in the low desert of Arizona – far removed from the region’s steady winter rains and on the doorstep of the erratic, unpredictable monsoon season. Tucson averages about a quarter inch for the entire month. Creeks and rivers dry up temporarily, compelling people to contemplate the value of water even more than normal.
I’m impressed by one community effort to understand the situation. Since 1999, The Nature Conservancy of Arizona has led a network of individuals, organizations and agencies - including BLM - in a large effort they call Wet-Dry Mapping. Each June, near the hottest day of the year, over 120 volunteers and professionals use GPS devices to map the wetted sections of over 300 miles of waterways in the region.
The methods are simple, but the results are incredibly valuable. Beyond collecting the data, it’s a format that gets dozens of people walking together in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area or elsewhere; they are thinking, talking and engaging on how important water is to our communities.
By Adam Milnor, BLM Arizona and My Public Land Tumblr Blogger
I went for a walk today - decided to stalk this little fellow for a few minutes. After a few shots, I noticed he was investigating a hole in the sand - and when I zoomed in, I was surprised to see another spider in the hole. He left after a few minutes, but I wonder what the conversation was about…