Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

San Francisco Peaks COA

The San Francisco Peaks is a high-elevation ecosystem in northern Arizona that encompasses several habitats across an elevational gradient. The COA is primarily owned and managed by the Coconino National Forest. The “Peaks” are actually one large extinct volcano that is characterized by several peaks, including Humphrey’s Peak at 12,637-feet above sea level. Petran montane conifer forest, subalpine forests, and alpine tundra create rare conditions for species such as the San Francisco Peaks ragwort, Bebb’s willow, long-tailed weasel, American three-toed woodpecker, and other species that are specific to high-elevation environments. Climate change and historical fire suppression are the greatest threats to this COA. As temperatures warm, these high-elevation habitats are changing and the risk of high-intensity fires is increasing. Wildfires such as the Schultz Fire of 2010 have resulted in the loss of conifer cover and potential long-term vegetation conversion. High recreational use of the Peaks requires management and oversight by land management agencies in order to avoid wildlife disturbance, fragmentation, erosion, and habitat loss.

Two other properties encompass this COA: the AZGFD-owned Lamar Haines Wildlife Area as well as the TNC-owned Hart Prairie Preserve. Hart Prairie Preserve is a grassland meadow system sits on the flanks of the San Francisco Peaks with unique hydrologic and biological elements. Snowmelt from the Peaks feeds this wet meadow and a rare and isolated population of Bebb’s willow. Overstocked forests and extended drought within the watershed have reduced water availability to the Bebb’s willow, resulting in some mortality and reduced recruitment. From 2013-2022, efforts to thin forests in the watershed seem to be benefiting Bebb’s willow. Additional thinning and managed fire are needed to help restore this meadow system.

Conservation Goals

  • Restore and maintain the structure and function of these high-elevation forests and grasslands, including aspen.
  • Manage recreational uses so that habitat is not degraded over time. Manage the San Francisco Peaks in tandem with Tribal Nations using traditional ecological and conservation knowledge.
  • Restore groundwater to Hart Prairie through forest management, including forest thinning and burning within the watershed.
  • Maintain a healthy subalpine conifer forest at Lamar Haines Wildlife Area and preserve springs habitat.


Primary Threats

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.1: Habitat shifting and alteration

7. Human Intrusions and Disturbance

7.1: Recreational activities

9. Natural System Modifications

9.1: Fire and fire suppression

Potential Conservation Actions

2. Land and Water Management

2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Restoration of pre-settlement forest structure and disturbance processes through thinning and fire to restore function and avoid catastrophic fire and die-offs.

1. Land and Water Protection

1.2: Resource and habitat protection
  • Improve protections for rare and sensitive high-elevation species.
  • Improve management of recreational activities to reduce impacts to steep slopes and other sensitive areas..

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Arizona Tiger Salamander, Arizona Treefrog


American Peregrine Falcon, American Pipit, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Chipping Sparrow, Dusky Grouse, Golden Eagle, Grace's Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Mexican Spotted Owl, Mountain Chickadee, Northern Flicker, American Goshawk (Northern Goshawk), Olive Warbler, Red Crossbill, Steller's Jay, Townsend's Solitaire, Western Wood-Pewee, Lincoln's Sparrow, Mountain West White-crowned Sparrow


Cockerell's Striate Disc (Snail)


Dwarf Shrew, Gunnison's Prairie Dog, Hoary Bat, Long-tailed Weasel, Mexican Gray Wolf, Southwestern Myotis


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Hart Prairie Preserve (TNC)
  • Kachina Peaks Wilderness
  • Lamar-Haines Wildlife Area (AZGFD)
  • Humphrey's Peak Closure Area

Potential Partners

  • Coconino National Forest
  • Flagstaff Biking Organization
  • Flagstaff Trails Initiative

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs

  • No associated Aquatic COAs