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ADEQ & BOR Grants Funding Watershed Management Group’s Two Major River Restoration Efforts

Release Date:

For Immediate Release
Public Relations Manager Jamie Manser, jmanser@watershedmg.org or 520-396-3266 x18

ADEQ & BOR Grants Funding Watershed Management Group’s Two Major River Restoration Efforts

With grant funding from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Watershed Management Group (WMG) is working on critical restoration solutions for the Santa Cruz River and Ciénega Creek watersheds.

ADEQ awarded WMG a $138,000 grant to restore areas in the Ciénega Creek Watershed with project partners: Ciénega Watershed Partnership, Pima County’s Regional Flood Control District, Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation, Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The work starts this year and runs through 2020. It is focused on addressing water quality concerns from tributary drainages to Ciénega Creek, an important creek that provides 40% of the annual recharge into the Tucson Basin aquifer. Restoration will be achieved by constructing low-tech rock structures that slow, spread, and sink water flows, heal erosion and promote native riparian vegetation.

“Only through our partnership with ADEQ, Pima County Regional Flood Control District, Ciénega Watershed Partnership and the BLM can we restore and protect this special place,” said WMG’s River Restoration Biologist Trevor Hare.

The Ciénega Creek Watershed is home to some of the most biologically rich natural communities in the region with vast desert grasslands, very rare sacaton grasslands, many miles of riparian (streamside) vegetation with cottonwood, willow, ash and walnut trees, and a multitude of wildlife species from jaguars to yellow-billed cuckoos and the Chiricahua leopard frog. It flows from just south of Sonoita, north through the Las Ciénegas National Conservation Area, Pima County owned ranch lands, and into the Ciénega Creek Preserve – which is owned and managed by Pima County.

In 2018, WMG was awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. BOR to create local solutions that tackle critical environmental issues in the Santa Cruz River watershed. To address this important work, WMG is co-convening with Tucson Water, Pima County, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, the Sonoran Institute, Sky Island Alliance, Community Water Coalition, and American Rivers – agencies that comprise the Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative (Collaborative).

“No one agency is responsible for managing Tucson’s river and watershed health. The Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative helps fill that gap by facilitating information sharing, prioritizing restoration actions, and coordinating collaborative efforts across many agencies and non-profit organizations.” said WMG’s Executive Director Lisa Shipek.

The target area for the restoration planning is the Tucson Basin’s Santa Cruz Watershed which encompasses all of the river’s tributaries and uplands – from Amado (upstream) to Marana (downstream) – with a total area of 1,895 sq. ft. The project focuses on addressing the increasingly complex issues of water management, looming water scarcity compounded by drought, and the need for a long-term sustainable supply; as well as the restoration of local rivers, tributaries and associated riparian habitat to support quality of life for the ecosystem’s flora and fauna and its human residents.