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Feb 2011

Wet/Dry Mapping: Using Citizen Scientists to Monitor the Extent of Perennial Surface Flow

Dale Turner and Holly Richter
Freshwater Assessment
Riparian-aquatic
San Pedro River
Abstract

Published in Environmental Management, this article describes a simple method for monitoring the flow status of interrupted perennial streams, with the example of a 12-year effort on the San Pedro River. We found that surface flow increased for parts of the river, apparently due to conservation actions, while other parts were stable or may have declined. The data allowed us to map areas with surface flow in every year, totaling 32% of the river length through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). These maps show areas with high year-to-year variation in flow length, which indicate changes in local groundwater conditions and may provide early warning of ecological changes.

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(ALL RIGHTS GRANTED TNC) View of Escudilla Mountain. Fall colors heighten the natural beauty of forest and meadow in the White Mountains, one of Arizona’s last wide-open spaces and where TNC works to protect the headwaters of three major Arizona rivers: the Salt, Gila, and Little Colorado and their greenbelts – riparian habitats critical for wildlife and water quality – as well as restore healthy forests within the largest ponderosa pine community in the world, save rare and unique wildlife and plant species, and control non-native, invasive species, such as crayfish, Arizona. © Betsy D. Warner/TNC
Aerial view of the Parks West restoration site overseen by TNC. Taken March 16, 2020.
Conservancy staffers, Dale Turner and Amanda Rebore, helping to map the Sabn Pedro River in Arizona. They use a GPS unit to denote the end of the water flow on the LowerSan Pedro River. They hiked through the Conservancy’s San Pedro Preserve.

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The Nature Conservancy’s conservation science program in Arizona engages stakeholders and expertise in applied science and policy to develop new information, ideas, and tools that can help solve some of our most pressing challenges affecting people and nature

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Future Forests

We are working with partners and stakeholders to accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration for a healthy Arizona

Mapping the Status of River Streams

Wet/dry mapping provides a low-cost, river-wide snapshot of hydrologic conditions for rivers with interrupted perennial surface flows.

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