Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Pinaleño Mountains COA

Nearly the entirety of the Pinaleño Mountains COA is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. These mountains (commonly referred to as Mt. Graham, the highest peak in southern Arizona at 10,700 feet) rise roughly 6,800 feet from semi-desert grasslands at the desert floor to mountainous woodlands at the highest peaks (the greatest elevation change in any range on the Coronado National Forest). These forests are comprised of Madrean woodland, Petran montane conifer forest, and subalpine conifer forest.

The exceptional high-elevation habitat of this extensive range, representative of Rocky Mountain flora and fauna to the north, makes this a vital area for the many diverse bird species, including Mexican whip-poor-will, Rivoli’s hummingbird, dusky-capped flycatcher, olive warbler, Virginia’s warbler, black-throated gray warbler, Grace’s warbler, and red-faced Warbler. The endangered, endemic Mt. Graham red squirrel occurs nowhere other than the Pinaleños. The Pinaleño Mountains has endemic land snails (Pinaleno Talussnail, Mimic Talussnail, Wet Canyon Talussnail, Clark Peak Talussnail, and Pinaleno Mountainsnail) that are managed and monitored under a signed conservation agreement with Coronado National Forest, USFWS, and AZGFD.

Conservation Goals

  • Maintain ecosystem function and forest management through natural, historic fire regime to improve landscape resiliency.
  • Conserve and protect a major Madrean sky island that represents a rare/unique habitat mosaic in Arizona, supports populations of breeding, year-round and migratory birds, and provides habitat for state species of concern.
  • Establish and maintain recovery populations of Gila trout and roundtail chub.
  • Implement conservation actions in the draft Mount Graham Red Squirrel Recovery Plan (May 2011) to maintain and improve status and distribution in the Pinaleño Mountains.
  • Implement conservation actions in the Pinaleño Land Snail Conservation Agreement (a CCA) to maintain and improve the status and distribution of endemic SGCN mollusks, and reduce threats to those snails and their habitat.


Primary Threats

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.1: Habitat shifting and alteration
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

Potential Conservation Actions

1. Land and Water Protection

1.2: Resource and habitat protection
  • Develop conservation easements on public or private lands in order to maintain and protect wildlife corridors.

2. Land and Water Management

2.1: Site/area management
  • Identify and conserve areas known as stopover and breeding habitats for migratory birds and support their full life-cycle conservation through international collaborations that address threats to their migration and wintering habitats in Mexico, Central America, and beyond.
2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Control the spread of invasive and problematic species to benefit populations of Mt. Graham red squirrels, including Abert’s squirrel and insect pest species.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Reintroduce prescribed burns to increase habitat resiliency in this unique and diverse Madrean woodland habitat.
  • Restore woodland habitats with more climate adaptable species to improve landscape resilience over time.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Establish and augment populations of fish and wildlife in high quality habitats, including Mt. Graham red squirrel, Mexican spotted owl, roundtail chub, and Gila trout.
  • Conduct research that includes surveying and monitoring species and habitats to determine status and conditions so that resources can be appropriately allocated where they are most needed.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


American Peregrine Falcon, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Grace's Warbler, Mexican Spotted Owl, Mexican Whip-poor-will, Olive Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Rivoli's Hummingbird, Virginia's Warbler


Clark Peak Talussnail, Mimic Talussnail, Pinaleño Mountainsnail, Pinaleño Talussnail, Wet Canyon Talussnail, Cross Snaggletooth, Shortneck Snaggletooth


Lesser Long-nosed Bat, Mt Graham Red Squirrel


Twin-spotted Rattlesnake, Yarrow's Spiny Lizard, Regal Horned Lizard


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • No associated Protected Areas

Potential Partners

  • Coronado National Forest
  • University of Arizona
  • Phoenix Zoo
  • USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs