Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Tonto Creek COA

Tonto Creek contains areas of intermittent surface water that provides important riparian habitat for nearby wildlife species, many of which are SGCN. The area surrounding the Creek has been heavily developed, especially along the southern portion. Mining, agriculture, and community developments have fragmented the stream channel and have increased runoff into Tonto Creek and Roosevelt Lake. Within the more developed portions, the flood channel is dominated by salt cedar, saltbush, and arrowweed. Upland areas consist of upland Sonoran desertscrub with patches of semi-desert grassland. Continued habitat fragmentation throughout the reach could lead to a change from native riparian to invasive dominated landscapes.

Conservation Goals

  • Restore habitat and proper functioning conditions to portions of Tonto Creek.
  • Remove invasive plant species and restore with natives, including cottonwood and willows.


Primary Threats

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

8. Invasive and Other Problematic Species

8.1: Invasive non-native species

9. Natural System Modifications

9.2: Dams and water management

10. Pollution

10.1: Household sewage and urban waste water
10.2: Industrial and military effluents
10.3: Agricultural and forestry effluents
10.4: Garbage and solid waste
10.6: Excess energy

Potential Conservation Actions

2. Land and Water Management

2.1: Site/area management
  • Conserve any present riparian habitats that support breeding populations of multiple different species, particularly migratory birds.
  • Continued management of intermittent/perennial reaches of Tonto Creek.
  • Restore native broadleaf riparian habitat to improve nesting habitat for migratory bird species.
2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Remove salt cedar and other invasive plant species that can degrade wildlife habitats.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Enhance degraded portions of the stream channel.
  • Improve hydrology of stream channels through riparian channel enhancements.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Implement long-term monitoring protocols for native species and habitats to inform adaptive management.

4. Education and Awareness

4.3: Awareness and communication
  • Work with local agencies, NGOs, and the general public to raise awareness of the importance of riparian areas for both wildlife and human protection.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


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


Abert's Towhee, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Cactus Wren, Common Black Hawk, Gila Woodpecker, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Western Grebe, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat


Black-necked Gartersnake, Mexican Gartersnake, Sonora Mud Turtle, Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Narrow-headed Gartersnake


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Roosevelt Lake Wildlife Area and Three Bar Natural Research Area

Potential Partners

  • US Forest Service
  • Salt River Project
  • AZ Department of Transportation
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

Relevant Conservation Plans

  • No associated Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs