Base and Meridian (B&M) Wildlife Area
Beginning in 1973, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission acquired approximately 200 acres of river and adjacent riparian habitat at the confluence of the Salt River and Gila River just west of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The B&M Wildlife Area is located 17 miles west of Phoenix at 115th Avenue and the Gila River in Maricopa County, Arizona. Acquisition of the B&M Wildlife Area was made possible with cooperation of County, State and Federal agencies including the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maricopa County's Department of Transportation, and Flood Control District.
Narrative Description and Vegetation Types: The approximately 198-acre Base and Meridian (B&M) Wildlife Area is on the north bank of the Gila River at the confluence with the Salt River with the Gila River and contains primarily all riparian habitat in and along the river and its associated upland banks. B&M contains riparian vegetation assemblages of cottonwood, willow (Salix sp.), salt cedar (Tamarix sp.), seep willow and desert broom (Baccharis sp.) and mesquite (Prosopis sp.) and many other herbaceous and woody species. Many riparian obligate wildlife species inhabit the area including several sensitive species. The In 1973, the B&M parcel (122.94 acres) was granted to the Commission through a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Recreation and Public Purposes (R&PP) land patent. The Amator (50 acres) and Harper (25.44 acres) parcels are deeded Arizona Game and Fish Commission (Commission) properties. The Commission purchased the Amator tract from private landowners in 1975. The Harper parcel was acquired in 1987 in exchange for a material sales agreement to mine sand and gravel on the Amator parcel.
Management Objective Goals: The goal for management of the Base and Meridian Wildlife Area is to optimize the habitat potential of the property for wildlife and for present and future generations of the public to enjoy wildlife-oriented recreation.
Public Use Opportunities and Resource Management Emphasis: The Base and Meridian Wildlife Area has been devoted to waterfowl and riparian management. Management emphasis also includes protection of wetland and riparian values and opportunities for recreational use.
Stream Habitat Species
The Base and Meridian Wildlife Area contains primarily all wetland, riparian and riverbank habitat. Wetlands are extremely productive ecosystems that sustain a disproportionately high percentage of threatened and endangered species. Wetland and riparian habitats within B&M Wildlife Area provide critical nesting, cover and food resources for many avian species, including sensitive species. The riparian habitat common to the Gila River is recognized as the highest quality nesting habitat for white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) in Arizona. The property is equally valuable for mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) nesting. Other species of significant value are Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii), coots (Fulica americana), gallinules (Gallinula chloropus) and other Shorebirds. The B&M Wildlife Area is also valuable as habitat for Yuma clapper rails (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) and other sensitive species.
Upland Habitat Species
The upland habitat at the B&M Wildlife Area is primarily stream bank and Sonoran desert habitat. A host of bird, mammal, and reptile species use the area because of its proximity to the river. A sample of the numerous wildlife known or suspected to occur at the B&M Wildlife Area are: Common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), Western screech-owl (Otus kennicottii), beaver (Castor canadensis), bobcat (Felis rufus), desert kangaroo rat (Dipodomys deserti), javelina (Tayassu tajacu), California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus californiae), Sonoran mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense sonoriense), and Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).
Special Status Species occurring on or near the Base and Meridian Wildlife Area have been identified through the Department's Heritage Data Management System, and are listed below. This includes the federally endangered Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis), and the Western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occidentalis), a federally listed candidate species.
Those special status species that potentially occur on or near the B&W Wildlife Area include Lowland leopard frog (Rana yavapaiensis), Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), Great egret (Ardea alba), Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum), Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus), Greater Western mastiff bat (Eumops perotis californicus), and Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).