The Gila River is one of the Southwest’s last free flowing rivers, flowing 649 miles through New Mexico and Arizona.
The Nature Conservancy has been working on the Gila River since 1982 and has helped protect hundreds of thousands of acres within the watershed and dozens of miles of the river.
Cottonwoods and willows along the Gila River provide a perfect home or migratory stopover site for more than 300 bird species.
The NM Department of Game and Fish and partners, including the Conservancy, conduct annual fish surveys along the Gila River to better understand fish populations. The river is a stronghold for spikedace and loachminnow, two small endangered fish.
Martha Cooper is the southwest New Mexico field representative for The Nature Conservancy. She has lived near the Gila River for the last eight years and has developed strong connections to both the landscape and the community.
The Gila River supports one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in North America. Wetlands like this one provide suitable habitat for nesting and rearing.
Randy Jennings conducts surveys of the Chiricahua leopard frog, a species found historically throughout the Gila watershed and Gila National Forest. Now, it is only located in a handful of places, including Moreno Springs in the Mimbres watershed.
As part of an extensive monitoring project, a brilliantly colored male summer tanager receives a bird band while flying through the Gila wilderness.
“ No matter what age, kids know the best place to be on a hot and sunny day is a cool, clear river.”
~ Martha Cooper, Southwest New Mexico Field Representative