U.S. Water News Online
PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The Nature Conservancy has bought the
last major parcel of private land along the Upper Verde River, a rare
strip of riparian habitat.
The Nature Conservancy bought 312 acres for an undisclosed price
from a Paulden couple, who also donated two major conservation
easements on the uplands portion of their ranch to The Nature
Conservancy (160 acres) and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (2,440
The easements prevent development.
The Upper Verde River is one of the two best remaining native
fisheries in Arizona and is home to three endangered and threatened
species, Nature Conservancy officials said.
The Upper Verde has been at the center of controversy in recent
years as Prescott-area communities move forward with their plans to
pump groundwater from the Big Chino Sub-basin south about 20 miles to
their water-strapped region.
Those plans prompted American Rivers to name the Verde one of the
most endangered rivers in the country in 2006.
Scientists generally agree that the Big Chino supplies 80 percent
of the baseflow of the upper Verde River.
The new Nature Conservancy property encompasses the first mile of
the river, where springs help keep the first 24 miles of the river
flowing during the dry seasons.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department already bought 700 acres on
three parcels along about three miles of the river that are
interspersed with the new Nature Conservancy property. The Prescott
National Forest and State Land Department are the other major
landowners along the Upper Verde.
Nature Conservancy and state wildlife officials say the new
purchase will foster efforts to protect and restore native fish
threatened by at least eight non-native fish species.
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