Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Upper Little Colorado River Watershed COA

This COA is an Important Bird Area (IBA). The area consists of 27-miles of the Little Colorado River and a broad network of smaller tributaries. This unique COA hosts a variety of quality high-elevation habitats, including subalpine grasslands and Petran montane conifer forests. These habitats are important breeding areas for Mexican spotted owl, northern goshawk, and many other SGCN found in the limited high-elevation habitats of Arizona. Also found in this COA are several lakes and reservoirs, including Becker Lake and Bunch Reservoir, creating a rich mosaic of aquatic habitats.

Conservation Goals

  • Improve maintain forest, woodland, and grassland vegetation communities within their range of natural variability and to make these communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Improve and maintain the hydrologic and ecological function of the watershed conditions, streams, riparian, and wetland areas and the species they support.
  • Maintain and enhance travel corridors for a wide variety of wildlife species.


Primary Threats

1. Agriculture

1.2: Wood and pulp operations

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

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

4. Residential and Commercial Development

4.1: Housing and urban areas

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

Potential Conservation Actions

1. Land and Water Protection

1.2: Resource and habitat protection
  • Acquire land and water rights and pursue conservation easements in and around COAs to improve habitat connectivity and buffer quality habitat blocks.

2. Land and Water Management

2.1: Site/area management
  • Conserve a variety of habitats that support healthy populations of fish and wildlife as climate changes.
  • Remove invasive woody vegetation along the riparian corridor and restore with native broadleaf trees.
2.2: Invasive/problematic species control
  • Improve management of trespass livestock that can damage the sensitive riparian habitats.
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Identify and protect key wildlife corridors for landscape connectivity.
  • Restore and maintain diverse habitats to support broad species assemblages that account for range shifts.
  • Improve management of water quality and quantity to maintain and enhance water levels for wildlife habitats.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Restore and improve riparian habitats to support populations of southwestern willow flycatcher, western yellow-billed cuckoo, and other SGCN
  • Conduct research targeting species and habitat types likely to be vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Arizona Tiger Salamander


American Dipper, American Kestrel, American Peregrine Falcon, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Clark's Nutcracker, Dusky Grouse, Flammulated Owl, Grace's Warbler, Long-eared Owl, MacGillivray's Warbler, Mexican Spotted Owl, American Goshawk (Northern Goshawk), Olive Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pine Siskin, Prairie Falcon, Red Crossbill, Rivoli's Hummingbird, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Western Burrowing Owl, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay


Long-tailed Weasel, Mexican Vole, Mexican Gray Wolf, Arizona Montane Vole, New Mexican Jumping Mouse, Springerville Pocket Mouse, Stephen's Woodrat, Western Water Shrew, Allen's Lappet-browed Bat, Hoary Bat, Silver-haired Bat, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Southwestern Myotis, Arizona Myotis, Long-legged Myotis, Fringed Myotis, Long-eared Myotis


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Becker Lake Wildlife Area
  • Wenima Wildlife Area
  • Mount Baldy Wilderness

Potential Partners

  • White Mountain Audubon

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs