We work to support native wildlife and vegetation, a healthy watershed, and places of stunning beauty.
Flowing through the heart of Arizona, the Verde River and its perennial and intermittent streams support some of the most important riparian and associated upland habitat remaining in the American Southwest.
An amazing diversity of wildlife can be found in the Verde River Watershed – at least 270 species of birds, 94 species of mammals, and 76 species of native amphibians and reptiles use the river’s watershed at some point in their life cycles. Riparian habitat – the lush strip of plant life dependent on reliable water along rivers, in wetlands, etc. – also provides travel corridors for wildlife, as well as critical flyways for migrating birds, and is home to several federal and state-listed threatened and endangered species. Additionally, the watershed’s diverse, native riparian plant life provides invaluable ecosystem services and places of stunning beauty for local communities and visitors alike.
Increasing pressure from drought, recreational use, the invasion of non-native plants and animals, water scarcity, and other stressors threaten the health of this shrinking riparian and wetland habitat. Invasive plant species in riparian areas – including giant reed, tamarisk, Russian olive, and tree of heaven among others – threaten the habitat for our native species, but also impact water flows, recreational opportunities, and property values.
Solutions We Work On
One of our most established and accomplished programs is the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC), a collaborative effort among a diverse group of public and private stakeholders to improve and restore riparian habitat in the Verde River Watershed.
Working with over twenty partners and more than 200 private landowners, VWRC focuses on three core methods to protect the Verde River from the harm caused by invasive plants: 1) outreach to local communities and private landowners; 2) treatment to remove invasive species; and 3) monitoring treated areas to ensure their continued health. Working with the Conservation Corps, crews of military veterans, and countless volunteers, VWRC is a true community collaboration, bringing people together to improve the health of the Verde River system. Recently, VWRC is expanding its work to address other aspects of river and riparian health.
One exciting area of expansion is the Verde Native Seed Cooperative, a small collective of buyers and growers of native plant materials consisting of local non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, Northern Arizona University, environmental consulting companies, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. These stakeholders are working together to identify and produce appropriate native plants and seeds for mountainous areas bridging Arizona and New Mexico, as well as Sonoran Desert ecoregions, for public lands restoration, garden and agriculture research, and pollinator conservation.