Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Lower Oak Creek COA

Lower Oak Creek supports a broad array of species because of its location at the convergence of the Colorado Plateau to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south. This riparian corridor is exceptional for Arizona in two respects: First, it is a significant migration corridor that supports exceptional landbird diversity and abundance in spring and fall migration. Second, it contains a premier, old growth riparian corridor that supports numerous riparian obligate species, many of which are SGCN in Arizona as well as a great abundance of cavity-nesting species. It supports mature riparian gallery forest unlike other sections of Oak Creek. Land ownership is primarily public within the COA (Coconino National Forest, Arizona State Parks, and AZGFD). Primary threats are ongoing development and subdivision along Oak Creek and its major tributaries. Water diversion, channelization and a less dynamic floodplain threaten to change the structure and function of the ecosystem, along with increased human use and invasive plant species.

Conservation Goals

  • Preserve and restore native riparian gallery forest and upland floodplain.
  • Work with water users to increase water conservation and instream flows.
  • Plant native, riparian plant species where appropriate and remove/prevent the spread of non-native invasive plants and animals.
  • Work with partners to reduce or remove domestic livestock grazing from the riparian zone.


Primary Threats

1. Agriculture

1.3: Livestock farming and ranching

4. Residential and Commercial Development

4.1: Housing and urban areas

8. Invasive and Other Problematic Species

8.1: Invasive non-native species

9. Natural System Modifications

9.2: Dams and water management

Potential Conservation Actions

1. Land and Water Protection

1.2: Resource and habitat protection
  • Secure and improve in-stream flows and conserve private and public land along Oak Creek.

6. Livelihood, Economic and Other Incentives

6.4: Conservation payments and programs
  • Work with Oak Creek water users to reduce creek diversions through education, incentives, and improved irrigation technology.

2. Land and Water Management

2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Eradicate, control and/or prevent invasive, non-native plants in the riparian zone.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Where appropriate, restore native riparian species through plantings and floodplain restoration.
  • Work with Coconino National Forest and livestock permittees to limit riparian access for domestic livestock.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Abert's Towhee, American Kestrel, Bullock's Oriole, Canyon Wren, Common Black Hawk, Common Merganser, Gila Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Scott's Oriole, Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo


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Mexican Gartersnake, Narrow-headed Gartersnake, Sonora Mud Turtle, Madrean Alligator Lizard, Sonoran Whipsnake, Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Page Springs and Bubbling Ponds Fish Hatcheries
  • Red Rock State Park

Potential Partners

  • Coconino National Forest
  • Arizona State Parks

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs