(PHOENIX—September 26, 2012) Today the Verde River 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 of the Verde River released today by five conservation groups is the seventh in a year-long series and highlights the river’s ecology, geography, and use by the people who rely on it, as well as threats to the river.
The Verde River traverses approximately 185 miles through Arizona’s transition zone, dropping from pine forests, through mountains and canyons to the desert below. The state’s first “Wild and Scenic River,” it supports a rapidly growing region of central Arizona, river-based tourism and recreation, and unique riparian habitat. Habitat along the river and its tributaries supports over 200 bird species, bald eagle nesting sites, one of the most diverse native fish populations in the state, and river otters, beaver, and other wildlife.
Threats to the river include competing demands for surface and groundwater due to growing populations throughout the watershed. Continued and increased groundwater pumping could reduce flows in the river, threatening supplies for downstream users and ecosystems that depend on a healthy, flowing Verde and its tributaries.
“Despite these challenges,” say the conservation groups in today’s profile, “efforts to create a sustainable future for the Verde River—and to sustain a healthy economy linked to a healthy river throughout the watershed—are broad and ongoing.”
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.