Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Telegraph and Mescal Fires COA

In 2021, Telegraph fire burned more than 180,757 acres in southcentral Arizona. The area is characterized by great diversity in elevation, terrain, and vegetation. Elevations range from 1,600’ to 6,300 and major landmarks include Picketpost Mountain and Pinal Mountains. Habitats range from lower Sonoran desertscrub to the south and west and Desert to Petran montane conifer forest to the east.

The Mescal fire, which also occurred in 2021, burned more than 72, 000 acres before merging with the Telegraph later the same year. The fire began southeast of Globe and burned west towards and into the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Habitat ranges from lower Sonoran desertscrub in the south to small areas of Petran montane conifer forest at the top of the Mescal Mountains. Both areas are at severe risk for invasive species encroachment, particularly fast growing annual grasses such as red brome that quickly take over the majority of ground cover following disturbance. Local waterways are also at risk from damaged topsoil that increases risk of erosion and sedimentation of streams

Conservation Goals

  • Improve native vegetation and soil recovery within fire affected areas to reduce latter fuel loads and increase natural forage for wildlife.
  • Maintain healthy species populations through monitoring, relevant conservation actions, reintroductions and habitat improvements.
  • Improve water availability across the landscape to mitigate the effects of drought, fire and climate change.


Primary Threats

1. Agriculture

1.3: Livestock farming and ranching

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.1: Habitat shifting and alteration
3.2: Droughts
3.3: Temperature extremes
3.4: Storms and flooding

4. Residential and Commercial Development

4.1: Housing and urban areas
4.2: Commercial and industrial areas
4.3: Tourism and recreation areas

6. Energy Production and Mining

6.2: Mining and quarrying

7. Human Intrusions and Disturbance

7.1: Recreational activities

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

10. Pollution

10.3: Agricultural and forestry effluents
10.4: Garbage and solid waste
10.5: Air-borne pollutants
10.6: Excess energy

Potential Conservation Actions

2. Land and Water Management

2.1: Site/area management
  • Improve management of livestock that may be adversely affecting sensitive fire-damaged habitats.
  • Create fuel breaks to protect important environmental assets from fire.
  • Improve natural and artificial wildlife water availability across the landscape.
2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Following fire, multiple early successional invasive grasses and forbs quickly colonize. Quick treatment plans will be needed.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Create vegetation management plans in previously burned areas to reduce invasive species encroachment.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Implement long-term monitoring protocols for vulnerable species and habitats to inform adaptive management.
3.2: Species recovery
  • Implement species-specific recovery plans for any species affected by the fire, including Mexican spotted owl and SGCN fish.

5. Law and Policy

5.4: Compliance and enforcement
  • Enforce unlawful cross country travel to protect wildlife habitat and fire damaged areas.

7. External Capacity Building

7.2: Alliance and partnership development
  • Share information with local agencies and implement monitoring plans to determine long-term effects of fire within Sonoran Desert communities.
  • Continue working with partners to evaluate mining structures for suitable wildlife habitat.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Lowland Leopard Frog, Red-spotted Toad, Sonoran Desert Toad


American Kestrel, American Peregrine Falcon, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon Towhee, Common Black Hawk, Golden Eagle, Gray Vireo, Mexican Spotted Owl, Painted Redstart


Galiuro Talussnail


California Leaf-nosed Bat, Cave Myotis, Fringed Myotis, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Mexican Long-tongued Bat, Pallid Bat, Pale Townsend's Big-eared Bat, Western Red Bat, Western Yellow Bat


Arizona Black Rattlesnake, Bezy’s Night Lizard, Black-necked Gartersnake, Gila Monster, Regal Horned Lizard, Sonora Mud Turtle, Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Sonoran Spotted Whiptail, Variable Sandsnake


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Picketpost Mountain Research Natural Area
  • Mountain Breeze Memorial Gardens
  • Arizona Trail

Potential Partners

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum
  • Coconino National Forest
  • Gila County
  • Pinal County
  • Salt River Project
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Freeport-McMoRan
  • BHP-Billiton
  • Arizona Deer Association
  • Mule Deer Foundation
  • Arizona Mule Deer Organization
  • Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society
  • Arizona Department of Fire and Forestry Management

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs