Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Lower Gila River COA

The Lower Gila River COA comprises lands within the Gila River floodplain from the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers upstream to San Cristobal Wash. Large swathes of the river’s floodplain have been converted from native marsh and riparian habitat into important agricultural production areas and the remaining undeveloped corridor contains extensive areas of non-native salt cedar. This COA provides a travel corridor for wildlife, habitat for upland and riparian species, and migration stopover sites and breeding habitat for migratory birds, among them threatened and endangered species such as the southwestern willow flycatcher, western Yellow-billed cuckoo, and Ridgway’s rail.

Conservation Goals

  • Remove salt cedar and restore with native vegetation to improve habitat quality and reduce fuel loads.
  • Restore natural marsh, riparian, and mesquite bosque habitat within the Gila River floodplain for SGCN and other wildlife.


Primary Threats

1. Agriculture

1.1: Annual and perennial nontimber crops

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.2: Droughts

8. Invasive and Other Problematic Species

8.1: Invasive non-native species

9. Natural System Modifications

9.1: Fire and fire suppression
9.2: Dams and water management

Potential Conservation Actions

2. Land and Water Management

2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Remove salt cedar from the stream channels and replace with native broadleaf riparian trees such as cottonwood and willows where applicable.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Reconnect washes and other areas to restore natural function of riparian ecosystem and floodplain.
  • Increase habitat connectivity by removing barriers and impediments to species movement.
  • Engage in partnerships with nearby agricultural and mining operations for potential water sources and mitigation conservation efforts.

7. External Capacity Building

7.2: Alliance and partnership development
  • Work with partners to identify and implement areas that could benefit from artificial wildlife crossings.

5. Law and Policy

5.4: Compliance and enforcement
  • Increase law enforcement presence within protected areas to reduce illegal recreation, poaching, and illegal OHV use.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Ridgway's Rail, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Virginia Rail, Western Burrowing Owl, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Wupatki Arizona Pocket Mouse, California Leaf-nosed Bat, Desert Pocket Mouse, Yuma Hispid Cotton Rat, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Sonoran Pronghorn, Spotted Bat, Western Red Bat, Western Yellow Bat, Yuma Myotis


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Yuma East Wetlands
  • Quigley-Achee Wildlife Area

Potential Partners

  • Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • US Bureau of Reclamation
  • Cocopah Tribe
  • AZ State Land Department
  • Rivers Edge West
  • Private Landowners

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs

  • No associated Aquatic COAs