ECO Festival at Aravapia
By Nina Crowder
It was a beautiful weekend for outdoor activities, and the Eco Festival had a wide array of events and fun for everyone.
The exhibits at the Central Arizona College were archaeology information, food and drinks, a bounce house and rock wall, a fun time for the whole family. There were limited tours that are normally closed to the public to Cook’s Lake Property and TNC Preserve/Double Check Ranch. The Bureau of Reclamation and Salt River Project gave insightful and informative tours of both these private areas.
Many people were able to participate in the 7B Nature Trail, located at the Copper Creek Crossing of the San Pedro River east of Mammoth and is available to take throughout the year.
According to Bureau of Reclamation tour guide Diane Lause, the Bureau purchased the Cook’s Lake/Adobe Preserve from 1992 to 1997. There were originally three different property owners, a private land owner, the state land department and Asarco. The land was purchased to help protect the existing habitat.
The San Pedro River is recognized for its environmental values and people have been trying to protect and preserve different areas along the San Pedro Valley. The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers issued regulations governing compensatory mitigation for authorized impacts to wetlands, streams and other waters of the U.S. under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. These regulations are designed to improve the effectiveness of mitigation to replace lost aquatic resource functions and area.
Lause recalls when Cook’s Lake use to have constant water flow, though it is dry now. She has been a biologist for thirty years and truly enjoys her work and doing her part to protect endangered and special places. She has seen this area go dry three different times over the years.
As we were guided through the trees, grass and colorful scenery we came to the birding station. Wade Leitner obtains information from birds in this area for Migratory Avian Population Study (MAPS). Leitner and his partner Ben set up mist nets in areas of Cook’s Lake Preserve that stretch 50 feet across to humanely capture birds and process them for data analysis.
This amazing area is a wooded wetland and very plush with white wild roses, ash and willow trees and amazing varieties of birds. Some of the many birds in this particular area are grey hawks, coopers hawks, northern cardinals, yellow warblers, summer tanagers and oriole, just to name a few.
The nets are numbered, so they know the location of where the bird was retrieved. The nets are set up for about four hours at a time and they are checked frequently for the birds. Once a bird is caught in the net, they are gently removed and put into cotton bags and taken to the bird station for analysis and then immediately released.
The two researchers perform a procedure called banding which is used to obtain ideas about bird population. The information they are obtaining is the bird species, abundance, health, breeding status and molt types. This complete process was very interesting, including the weighing of the bird by putting it into a cylinder container that it can’t back out, placed on a small scale, then released.
The two had several birds in their nets to show us, including a green and yellow chat and a red cardinal. Leitner explained to us each bird that was caught, the time and location of the catch, then they identify the species of the bird and a little numbered metal band is put on the leg of the bird.
After the band is securely put on the bird they check for any rough edges and make sure to smooth them out to help prevent the bird getting caught up in something do to the band. All of the information is immediately put in the computer, including the number of the band that is put on the bird and all the information gathered.
Attending the bird banding tour was very educational, and every nature enthusiast is encouraged to attend if given the opportunity.
The many vendors that helped make this day fun filled included Tucson Audubon Society, Arizona Field Ornithologists, Arizona Riparian Council, US Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish, Jojoba Beef, Enriqueta Flores-Guevara, The Nature Conservancy, Canyon Wren Ranch, Lower San Pedro Watershed Association, Aravaipa Heirlooms and the Arizona Department of Forestry.
Those interested in seeing Cook’s Lake or TNC Preserve/Double Check Ranch areas and were not able to attend this last weekend can contact the Salt River Project at (602) 236-3333, or the Bureau of Reclamation at (602) 364-7880.
Photos by Nina Crowder. See more online at