Silver Creek
Silver Creek
Credit: Steve Prager

Bureau of Land ManagementAgua Fria National Monument

Member Since: 10/23/2010

Primary Contact: Steve Prager
Other Contact: Codey Carter

21605 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027

The Agua Fria National Monument spans 71,000 acres 40 miles north of Central Phoenix

Partner Information: Rio Salado Audubon Center, Metro Tech High School, Phoenix College, Phoenix Bioscience High School

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Adjacent to rapidly expanding residential communities and the busy I-17 freeway, the 71,000-acre Agua Fria National Monument is approximately 40 miles north of Central Phoenix. The area consists of a variety of biotic communities including grasslands, chaparral, and Sonoran desert scrub.  This diverse area is cut in half by the canyon-bound Agua Fria River and its tributaries which create a green belt of riparian habitat that contrasts magnificently with the surrounding monument.  The diversity of habitat present in the Agua Fria Monument translates directly into diversity of wildlife.  Pronghorn antelope roam the grasslands atop the many mesas.  Coyotes, mule and white-tailed deer, javelina, and the occasional elk or black bear can be spotted in and atop the canyon.  Mexican garter snakes, leopard frogs, and several native fish populate the river and surrounding riparian area.  In addition, Audubon has documented 95 species of birds on the monument.

The Agua Fria National Monument has a long history of human use.  Its first permanent villages, populated by the Hohokam tribe, were established as early as A.D. 700.  Other tribes, including the Perry Mesa Tradition and the Yavapi Indians, left behind ancient pueblos, art, and countless artifacts such as tools and pottery as proof of the over 1,000 years they inhabited the area.  In the 1800’s, cattle ranching became a prominent activity along the Agua Fria.  Even after its designation as a National Monument in January of 2000, it still contains portions of ten ranches.

Cattle grazing, along with other human activities such as off-road vehicle usage, have the potential of bringing significant harm to the diversity and ecosystem health along the Agua Fria.  Therefore, the Bureau of Land Management, the agency in charge of protecting the Monument, must constantly monitor the area in order to gain the data necessary for implementing sound management decisions and techniques.

The Bureau of Land Management has partnered with Audubon Arizona and several Phoenix high schools to allow students to actively participate in these crucial monitoring efforts.  This opportunity will allow students, who regularly spend their days in the highly urbanized Phoenix area, to experience nature in a way that they otherwise may not have a chance to do.  They will leave the program with a wider understanding of Arizona’s diverse ecology, an appreciation for riparian areas, and a clear pathway to career opportunities in land management. It is experiences like these that will allow these students to become the future stewards of the environment that our world so greatly needs.



Audubon Arizona, the Bureau of Land Management, the Phoenix Union High School District and Phoenix College have teamed up to provide high school students with a clear path to ecological understanding, stewardship, and careers in land and resource management. The River Pathways program introduces students to Arizona

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