San Pedro River Valley Natural History Hikes

Sponsored by Elna Otter and Jim McPherson for Sierra Club

January 26, 2008 event:

Led by:  Daniel Baker

Where:  Cascabel Arizona

Summary by leader:  15 participants

Our hike was a mix of natural and cultural history in the San Pedro River Valley. We began at the site where Fr. Kino met the Sobaipuri Indians in the late 17th century and observed the minimal remains of their houses and dry-farmed agave fields. At this
upland overlook we could see the surrounding mountain ranges, the valley confluence of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, and a largely unfragmented intact ecosystem. We observed a cross-valley wildlife corridor that services some of the greatest diversity of mammal species in North America, which the proposed I-10 bypass would interrupt.

 

Dropping down into the San Pedro River floodplain we observed how the San Pedro River has become entrenched and reduced flows due to Anglo settlement and impacts. We hiked through three imperiled natural communities: Mesquite Bosque, Sacaton Grassland and Fremont Cottonwood-Willow Riparian Forest. Coming to the river we discussed how despite depredations the San Pedro is the main flyway for migratory birds in the West.

 

The proposed I-10 bypass would cut a 6-mile-wide swath of impact for 50 miles through the length of the valley and directly and indirectly fragment the ecosystem, disrupt wildlife migrations and quite possibly fatally wound the last major free flowing river in the desert southwest.

 

March 21 2009 event:

Led by:  Daniel Baker and Ralph Waldt

18 participants were treated to a similar hike, with additional nature commentary by Ralph Waldt.

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