Our Mission, and an Invitation to Participate
The mission of the Alliance is to unite conservation-minded individuals, groups, and agencies in the lower San Pedro region to protect a threatened riparian ecosystem and its supporting watershed. The Alliance promotes conservation initiatives and educational programs, fosters a resilient local economy, and resists proposals for large scale or inappropriate development that would cause ecosystem fragmentation, degrade wildlife habitat, devalue conservation investments, and threaten sustainable rural lifestyles.
Why we pursue this mission, and an invitation to participate:
The Growth Corridor in Arizona…
The former riparian zone and floodplain of the Santa Cruz River in Tucson, converted to an engineered drainage system to protect development from rain events, such as a winter storm. Photo by Lasertrimman
…and the Conservation Corridor
Beaver dam on the lower San Pedro in 2013. This area was subsequently flooded during the monsoon rains, and the floodplain received much needed infiltration of deep soil moisture.Photo by Gilbert Urias
The San Pedro River and its tributaries, such as Aravaipa Creek, constitute the last major riparian ecosystem remaining in southern Arizona. Because the Santa Cruz and Salt River valleys have been significantly impacted by growth and development in the Sun Corridor, the San Pedro corridor has become the most important north-south migratory bird flyway within Arizona. The lower San Pedro watershed also harbors one of the richest remaining fish, reptile, amphibian, and mammalian habitats in the nation, and is the key to protecting several threatened and endangered species. This important and unique desert river, and its supporting watershed, have earned international recognition for biodiversity.
This watershed, which extends from just north of Benson to the confluence with the Gila River in Winkelman, is also home to many working landscapes, as well as 192,000 acres of land protected for conservation purposes. Three fourths of these conservation lands were so designated to offset environmental impacts caused by development elsewhere in the state. This relatively undeveloped corridor has become an important repository for off-site mitigation of environmental impacts resulting from rapid development along the Sun Corridor.
Proposed route of the SunZia power lines, towers, and maintenance roads.
Currently, a major infrastructure project is proposed, the SunZia power corridor, intended to benefit the very growth areas that caused the need for this off-site mitigation. The Interstate 10 Bypass proposal, which was presented over a decade ago, is another example of the lower San Pedro Valley being targeted for major infrastructure routing due to the absence of existing development and the resulting cheap acquisition cost of land. Despite the critical importance of this major riparian zone in the context of rapidly dwindling wildlife habitat in our state, the San Pedro watershed is being subjected to inappropriate development pressure.
A Call for Greater Participation
There are many examples that show it is possible to protect critical habitat, promote traditional land uses that operate under best management practices for the conservation of natural resources, and maintain a local economy that is nurtured and strengthened by the pastoral and scenic values that draw so many people to the West. It takes strong conservation measures, sustainable land management practices, and committed organization to resist suburban sprawl and development pressure in the arid Southwest, particularly in a riparian ecosystem.
The Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance was formed to promote collaborative conservation among groups, agencies, and individuals who care about protecting this important natural desert river ecosystem the watershed that supports it. If you are concerned about the rapid loss of riparian habitat in our state and agree with the purpose of the Alliance, as described on the first paragraph above, please join with us. Membership does not require you to dedicate many hours of your time or make large financial contributions. Membership is an opportunity to join with others to leave a lasting conservation legacy in a state that is undergoing unusually rapid development.
If you are interested in participating, please respond with an email to LowerSanPedro@gmail.com
or by mail to LSPWA, PO Box 544, Mammoth AZ 85618.