Upper Verde River Wildlife Area
The Upper Verde River Property, known also as the Croll Subject Property, is located approximately eight miles north of Chino Valley in Yavapai County, Arizona. This property was acquired through the Department’s Heritage and Waterfowl Conservation Fund. The property consists of four parcels totaling approximately 796 acres located along the upper Verde River and lower Granite Creek. The Department has also applied for a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) from the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) for approximately 240 acres of State Trust lands located adjacent to two of the deeded parcels. The primary management emphasis for the Upper Verde River property is to manage riparian habitat and maintain native fish diversity. Secondary management emphases are environmental education and compatible wildlife oriented recreation.
Narrative Description and Vegetation Types
The Upper Verde River property has four disjunct parcels of private land which collectively include approximately three miles of the upper Verde River, draining easterly from the confluence with Granite Creek to the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Prescott National Forest (Forest Service), boundary 3.5 miles downstream. One parcel includes about 1.0 mile of Granite Creek upstream from its confluence at the Verde River. Interspersed stretches of the Verde River cross State Trust lands, Forest Service, and private lands of two other owners.
The Upper Verde River Property includes the associated riparian area, floodplains, cliffs, and adjacent uplands. The diverse topography is dissected, ranging in elevation from 4,200 to 4,600 feet. The width of the river channel and floodplain varies from < 0.1 to > 0.5 mile within and among parcels. Prominent cliffs rise 100-300 feet above the river in some segments.
The riparian vegetation community at the Campbell Place parcel most closely resembles riparian vegetation at Tract 39 (western segment), and to a lesser extent, Granite Creek.
Riparian vegetation at the Campbell Place and Tract 39 is characterized as mixed broadleaf deciduous, dominated by Arizona ash, Fraxinus velutina, boxelder, Acer negundo, Arizona walnut, Juglans major and netleaf hackberry, Celtis reticulata. Tamarisk, Tamarisk pentandra is occasionally interspersed with native tree species. Gooddings willow, Salix gooddingii, red willow, Salix laevigata and Fremont cottonwood, Populus fremontii are also found. Low floodplain terraces are dominated by large stands of desert willow Chilopsis linearis, while highest terraces are vegetated with velvet mesquite, Prosopis velutina. Varying from the above, the lower Granite Creek supports a well-developed narrowleaf cottonwood, Populus acuminata riparian forest.
Management Objective Goals
- To manage, maintain, and enhance existing wildlife populations, natural biotic communities and habitats
- To increase public awareness and understanding of wildlife of special concern, of efforts devoted to conservation and enjoyment of these resources, and of the recreation, education, aesthetic, and cultural benefits attendant to these resources
Public Use Opportunities and Resource Management Emphasis
The primary management emphasis for the Upper Verde River property is to manage riparian habitat and maintain native fish diversity. Secondary management emphases are environmental education and compatible wildlife oriented recreation.
Native fish populations in the upper Verde River, inclusive of the subject properties, are among the most diverse in Arizona. Because native fish diversity and abundance are valuable indicators of biotic integrity, initial management focus will be to monitor, manage, and maintain the extant native fish populations.
A secondary resource management emphasis is to increase public awareness in the greater Prescott area about the Heritage Program, nongame wildlife populations, and sensitive habitats.
The Upper Verde River supports a diverse fauna. Wildlife of Special Concern (WSC) that are known to inhabit the upper Verde River Wildlife Area and vicinity include: roundtail chub, Gila robusta, razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus, and spikedace, Meda fulgida.
WSC that may occupy the upper Verde River Wildlife Area and vicinity include: Northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens, Mexican garter snake, Thamnophis eques, Arizona toad, Bufo microscaphus, belted kingfisher, Ceryle alcyon, Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, common black hawk, Buteogallus anthracinus, peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus, southwestern willow flycatcher, Empidonax traillii extimus, red bat, Lasiurus borealis, spotted bat, Euderma maculatum, and southwestern river otter, Lontra canadensis sonora.
Big game species include mule deer and javelina. Elk are rare, but have recently been observed in the area. Pronghorn, in low numbers, use the pinyon-juniper uplands that adjoin the upper Verde River. It is likely that mountain lion, occupy the riparian corridor and rugged side drainages.
Common furbearers that inhabit the area include striped skunk, badger, beaver, coyote, gray fox, and bobcat.
Comprehensive avian, mammalian, and herpetofaunal surveys have not been conducted for the subject properties; however, healthy riparian vegetative communities typically support diverse and abundant native faunal populations.
Special Status Species occurring on or near the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area have been identified through the Department's Heritage Data Management System. This includes the federally endangered razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus, the threatened spikedace, Meda fulgida, and the federally listed candidate species western yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus occidentalis.