Aerial view of the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve
Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve Aerial view of the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve © Linda Whitham

Places We Protect

Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve

Utah

More than 200 species of birds, amphibians, and mammals can be found at the Matheson Wetlands Preserve.

Why You Should Visit
The Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve in Moab, Utah is an oasis in the desert - a stark contrast to the surrounding redrock cliffs and arid desert. To this lush oasis flock over 200 species of birds, amphibians, including the northern leopard frog, and aquatic mammals such as the beaver, muskrat and elusive river otter.

Location
This wetlands preserve is located in Moab, Utah along the banks of the Colorado River. Historically the area was, and still often is, referred to as the Moab Sloughs.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site  
The rarity of the wetland ecosystem in an arid environment, the area’s diversity that attracts a wide variety of wildlife species and the utilization of the wetlands by migratory birds, were the main reasons The Nature Conservancy became involved with the Moab Sloughs.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Nature Conservancy and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources purchased the wetlands starting in 1990, with the agreement that The Nature Conservancy would manage the preserve. Though many people visit the preserve to bird watch, others come to enjoy the sounds and sights of nature. School groups also visit the preserve to study wetlands and the creatures that inhabit these wetlands. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has conducted a mist-netting program to analyze bird usage in the preserve. Other studies have looked at population trends of northern leopard frogs, waterfowl and breeding birds.

The Conservancy is also battling the invasive species, tamarisk, at Matheson Wetlands Preserve.  Learn more about the ongoing battle.

Plants
There are large expanses of bulrush and cattail, black willow and Fremont’s cottonwood.

Animals
There are more than 200 species of birds occur in the preserve, including spring migrants: songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, summer nesters: yellow warblers, common yellowthroat, black-headed grosbeaks, lazuli buntings, song sparrows, great blue herons, fall migrants and winter waterfowl. You can also see beavers, muskrat, mule deer, northern leopard frog and raccoon.

Conditions
A well-defined, handicapped-accessible, mile-long loop trail exists in the southern portion of the preserve. A boardwalk, made from recycled train trestles, spans the trail’s wet areas and leads to a wildlife viewing blind. Additionally, there is a wetlands teaching circle and map station where several brochures are available including bird and wildlife lists.

What to Bring
Bring water, your binoculars and bird guides to identify a wide variety of birds - especially during spring and fall!  Pick up a brochure and follow the marked trails on a self-guided tour and call the Moab Project Office at (435) 259-4629 with any questions.  Mosquito repellent is advised in the late spring and summer.