This IBA encompasses approximately 27 miles of the Little Colorado River (LCR) from it's headwaters on Mount Baldy flowing northeast to Wenima Wildlife Area (WA), and includes the tributaries of Hall Creek, Benny Creek, Rosy Creek, Butler Canyon, the East Fork of the LCR, the West Fork of the LCR, and the South Fork of the LCR. The IBA is ? to ? mile wide along the drainages, but encompasses some adjoining uplands where known Mexican Spotted and Northern Goshawk territories exist. Several lakes/reservoirs are included in the watershed and are within the IBA they include: Lee Valley Reservoir, White Mountain Reservoir, River Reservoir, Tunnel Reservoir, Bunch Reservoir, and Becker Lake.

For IBA map, click here.

Ornithological Summary

This riparian corridor contains a significant amount of intact, diverse, high elevation habitat. It supports a diversity of breeding species, many of which nest only in the high elevations in Arizona. The area is important nesting habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and includes the high elevation nest sites documented in the state. The upper watershed includes seven Mexican Spotted Owl territories and three Northern Goshawk territories, and one Peregrine Falcon eyrie. The lower stretch of the river holds the majority of known Gray Catbird breeding sites in the state, and at least one Yellow-billed Cuckoo territory. The riparian corridor also supports a diversity of migrant passerines with MacGillivray?s Warbler in large numbers. Wintering bald eagles are present on lakes in substantial numbers.

Conservation Issues

Although most of this riparian corridor represents intact habitat, serious habitat degradation has occurred due to cattle grazing and agricultural activities along portions of the river, particularly in the Springerville area. Cowbird parasitism in the Greer area is an issue being addressed through trapping efforts. Unresolved Arizona State Trust Land protection versus development along the lower sections of the LCR, threaten the integrity of the riparian corridor in this critical section for willow flycatcher, catbirds, cuckoos, and other riparian habitat obligate species.


Land Ownership is shared between Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona Game and Fish, Private Land and State Trust Land, covering an area of 24,831.28 hectares in total. Please review the ownership map for more accurate percentages of land ownership.


The habitat at highest elevations is alpine, grading into spruce-fir to mixed conifer,aspen, ponderosa pine, pinyon-juniper, and grasslands at the lowest elevations. The riparian community changes along the IBA length with the flow downstream with vegetation progressing in the following dominance: alder, willow, cottonwood and walnut.

Other Flora and Fauna:
Thirteen plant species and nine animal (non-avian) (four mammal, one amphibian, two fish, and two invertebrates) special status species listed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Heritage Data Management System.

Land Use

Land uses are many and include: forestry management, nature and wildlife conservation, live stock, grazing, water supply, recreation, hunting and fishing, suburban development, and undeveloped lands.

Research and Conservation Projects:
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) recently (2003) purchased a tract of land (Enders) along the LCR in Springerville near the existing AZGFD lands at Becker Lake, and is beginning a project to help restore the streambed and riparian vegetation.
Protected Areas:
Wenima Wildlife Area is an Arizona Game and Fish Department protected wildlife management area.

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