Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project

For those of you who don’t know the Phoenix area, there is a river that slices through the city cutting us into north and south sections. That river is called The Salt River or Rio Salado and for the most part it is just a dry bed. However, from time to time when we have had an especially wet winter and spring, it can rage out of control and tear things up. It hasn’t done that for many years and engineers and environmentalists have been working hard to keep it that way.

Recently I discovered a wonderful project that has converted what was once, quite literally a dump into a lush wildlife habitat. Five miles of the river bed has been cleared of debris and trash to create 600 acres of native wetland and riparian habitats. It is said that over 1000 tons of old tires alone, were taken out of the area and transferred to recycling facilities. As a result, the project has turned what was once an embarrassing eyesore into and eco-system that supports both flora and fauna. (For those who are familiar with Phoenix, it runs between 19th Avenue and 16th Streets just south of downtown.)

The area boasts ten miles of trails for hikers, equestrians, and bikers with staging areas and parking lots to accommodate cars and horse trailers. There are also facilities available where educational programs are presented for school children as well as adults. There are monthly bird walks scheduled and a lot of other activities in the cooler months between October and May. The information I saw said that over 200 species of birds have been identified in the area.



I took today’s two photos at one of those recreational areas just under the Central Avenue bridge.

7 comments:

Jarart said...

That is a wonderful program! It would be a great place to go bird watching or ride a bike in the cooler months.

tomaq said...

Funded in part by ADEQ, if memory serves (not that I work there any more:)

glenda said...

What a great idea. How about using some of the stimulus money to produce parks all over the country.

JM said...

Lovely photo!
If the river depends on the rain, where does the name Salado come from?

Sharon said...

JM, I couldn't find out where the name originally came from but consensus has it as simple as the water tasted salty. The river actually originates in eastern Arizona in some higher altitude areas and the only reason it's a dry river bed when it gets to Phoenix is that it is dammed in several locations along the way forming lakes and watersheds. The Salt River Project also funnels the water into our vast canal system for irrigation and some is used for our drinking water supply.

I have vivid memories of a time many years ago when we had an especially wet winter including heavy snows in the mountains. The dams could not hold the water so it had to be released into the river causing flooding and bridge damage along the way. At one point, only one bridge over the river was functioning which caused massive traffic issues. They learned a lot from that situation and the bridges are now built to withstand high and rushing water and many of the dams have increased capacity.

JM said...

Thank you, Sharon! You gave me a clear picture of this river's life.

Thérèse said...

I will definitively check it out as soon as the weather calms down...
A great program, a great post Sharon.