This Watershed Supports over 22 Threatened and Endangered Species

The Santa Cruz is an international watershed covering 8,200 square miles in south central Arizona and 400 square miles (5%) in northern Sonora, Mexico. The Santa Cruz River originates in the Canelo Hills area of San Raphael Valley, flows south into Mexico before looping north into Arizona once again 5-miles east of Nogales, Arizona. The river and its tributaries support over 22 threatened or endangered species, including birds, fish, reptiles, and plants in essential cottonwood-willow riparian habitat.

More on the Santa Cruz Watershed

AZGFD furthered this vision in 2013 by embarking on a novel planning process that culminated in a multi-species fisheries management plan for the Verde River Watershed. This planning approach shifted away from a single species focus to interactions between sport fish and native aquatic species, reflecting AZGFD’s mission to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources while managing for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities. AZGFD will be developing similar plans for all of Arizona’s major watersheds to guide fisheries management into the future.

For each major watershed in Arizona, AZGFD will develop interactive web maps as an alternative, visual way to easily explore management information outlined in the plan.

Santa cruz watershed

The Santa Cruz River watershed provides important habitat and resources for numerous native aquatic species, while also providing abundant opportunities for sport fishing and recreation.

Explore the Santa Cruz Watershed Interactive Map to learn more about how the Arizona Game and Fish Department will manage waters within the watershed, to balance public demand for recreational fishing with native aquatic species conservation and recovery. Within the Santa Cruz River watershed, 99% of stream miles were identified for native aquatic species and 99% of lake and pond surface acres were identified for sport fish recreation. Due to the isolated locations and lack of connectivity within the watershed where native species occur, there is very little overlap between native and sportfish species management.

This map will be updated as new information becomes available.

At a Glance: Management Unit Emphasis by Water

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