Practitioner and Science-Based Restoration Efforts On The Little Colorado River

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Ian Torrence

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Climate change-driven temperature and precipitation shifts can be best experienced in the American southwest— invasive plants steadily replace native plant habitat, surface and ground water resources are on the decline, and wildfire impacts are increasing in severity and frequency. This is especially true of the lower Little Colorado River (LCR) watershed—one of the most degraded riparian systems in this region. The Little Colorado River Valley Conservation Area (LCRVCA) spans 16 miles of intermittent river and includes almost 17,000 acres south of Cameron, AZ, and north of Wupatki National Monument within CO Bar Ranch—a part of privately owned and operated Babbitt Ranches. Restoration efforts within the LCRVCA embrace a locally-driven approach to restoring degraded riparian habitat along the lower LCR that can be adopted by other regional land managers and organizations. Utilizing American Conservation Experience (ACE) conservation crews, with assistance from the Landsward Foundation, Northern Arizona University’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and Arizona’s Department of Forestry and Fire Management, on-the-ground restoration work is carried out effectively through a combination of practitioner-based knowledge, science-based research, and adaptive management. Goals and results of this on-going project include mitigation of invasive plant competition, creating open space for native plant recruitment and plantings, protecting remnant cottonwood stands from wildfire, and enhancing wildlife refugia. Project-related benefits include monitoring data that will inform and fortify successful land management strategies while proactively dealing with the challenges that are encountered on this rugged, hot, and dry project site.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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