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Monday, July 14, 2014


Little Colorado River

A short, meandering stretch of the Little Colorado River is a better place thanks to the introduction of coconut matting and recycled Christmas trees.
These biodegradable materials are just two of the many tools being used by conservation agencies (Arizona Game & Fish Department, Apache Natural Resource Conservation District, USDA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Arizona Dept. of Water Resources and Arizona Water Protection Fund) to restore riverbank stability and inprove wildlife
Footbridge river traverse
habitats. Project managers are quick to conceed that some of these rehabilitative practices are more successful than others, leaving the verdits up to visiting hikers who can draw conclusions based on interpretive singage placed along the experimental test grounds. The biodegradable mats and trees augered into the riverbank are hardly noticable and are slowing down erosion to help reinstate the river's natural flows for a healthier riparian ecosystem. A robust community of water-loving bullrush, grasses and showy milkweed at the water's edge have taken root in the mesh of introduced materials. This is providing shelter for nesting waterfowl and ample building supplies for busy beavers. In fact, so many birds visit the area that the site has been designated as an Important Bird Area by Audubon Arizona . One shady section of the 1.2-mile, streamside hiking trail exhibits the sun-dappled ambience of a Monet garden replete with water-caressing willows and a wooden footbridge. Where the path enters the surrounding floodplain and open rangeland, it becomes easy to see how precious this ribbon of moisture is to sustaining life in the White Mountains.
Although this close-to-town, short hike isn't likely to get you into your target heart rate zone, it's educational value and profound beauty makes it a worthwhile diversion---coconut mats and all.
View of Springerville's Coyote Hills on horizon

LENGTH: 1.2 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6920' - 6945'
From Springerville, go 1 mile west on US60 (Main Street) to the parking area on the left.

INFO: Arizona Game & Fish Department, 928-367-4281

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