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Friday, July 26, 2013

Wetland wildlife viewing

Monsoon storm over Jacques Marsh, July 2013

What began as a creative approach to wastewater management has bloomed into  thriving wetlands on a wind-swept, White Mountains  grassland. This 93-acre site is a complex of ponds, nesting islands and wet meadows that attract swarms of birds as well as elk, deer, coyotes, turkeys and bears.  Although there are no actual trails here, visitors can hike along the cattail-choked berms and gravel roads that criss-cross the area. The going is easy, however gopher and badger holes are potential hazards, so keep an eye on your footing. The created wetlands of Jacques Marsh are fed by treated, reclaimed water pumped in from the Pinetop-Lakeside wastewater treatment plant. But, don't worry---although it's not advisable to drink the marsh water, it's perfectly safe to wander around it. And, the only aroma is that of earthy water plants and surrounding juniper-studded prairies.

LENGTH: variable, the circumference is just under 3 miles, if you hike all the berms--up to 4 miles
RATING: easy
In Pinetop-Lakeside, travel south on AZ260 (White Mtn Blvd.) to milepost 350 and the traffic signal at Porter Mountain Road.  Turn left and go 1.5 miles north on on Porter Mtn Rd (also called Penrod Road in some publications)  to Juniper Dr. on the left.
Follow this paved/gravel/dirt road 0.6 miles (ignore the side road, keep straight and pass over 2 cattle guards)  to the trailhead on the right. The last half-mile is on bumpy dirt.  Low clearance vehicles can park along the road if necessary and walk the remaining distance.

INFO: White Mountains Online:
EPA document:

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