Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Gila Box COA

The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA) consists of 23,000-acres and includes four riparian areas, the Gila and San Francisco rivers as well as the Bonita and Eagle creeks. The complex of waterways creates an area rich in plant and animal diversity. The Gila Box is a canyon with towering Gila conglomerate cliffs with mesquite woodlands, mature cottonwoods, and sandy beaches.

The river is popular among recreationists for its canoeing and hiking opportunities as well as a network of primitive roads that provides backcountry access for four-wheel-drive and mountain bike trekkers. The Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area provides a bird’s-eye view of the riparian canyon below, with more than 100 species of birds recorded here. This COA is also rich in history, hosting a homestead cabin, rock art, and cliff dwellings.

Conservation Goals

  • Improve management of recreation activities such as OHV use and camping to reduce adverse effects to wildlife and their habitats.
  • Maintain and improve unique riparian habitats found throughout the COA.


Primary Threats

1. Agriculture

1.3: Livestock farming and ranching

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.1: Habitat shifting and alteration

7. Human Intrusions and Disturbance

7.1: Recreational activities

Potential Conservation Actions

2. Land and Water Management

2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Improve livestock management within the NCA boundaries to remove/exclude trespass cattle.
  • Manage for invasive species control, especially in aquatic habitats.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Protect and restore riparian habitats affected by changing species composition or water reduction.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Manage American beaver populations at optimal levels to promote riparian area recovery and other SGCN species management goals.

4. Education and Awareness

4.3: Awareness and communication
  • Increase education of responsible recreation within the NCA.

5. Law and Policy

5.4: Compliance and enforcement
  • Ensure compliance with laws and regulations within the NCA to ensure responsible recreation.
  • Ensure compliance with BLM’s resource management plan to reduce adverse effects of cattle in the riparian area.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Arizona Toad, Lowland Leopard Frog


American Peregrine Falcon, Common Black Hawk, Golden Eagle, Mexican Spotted Owl, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo




American Beaver, Mexican Free-tailed Bat


Narrow-headed Gartersnake


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Gila Box Riparian NCA

Potential Partners

  • Gila Watershed Partnership
  • Graham County

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs