Native Aquatic Species of the Gila River Basin
in Arizona and New Mexico
Native fishes of the Southwest are in trouble. Of the approximately 36 fish species
historically native to Arizona, 21 are listed as threatened or endangered, and one species
has gone extinct. Several species are no longer found in the state but exist elsewhere
within the Colorado River Basin. When Reclamation began managing water to meet the needs of the west
in 1902, streams and rivers were modified or lost due to diversions and water storage. In recent years,
increased groundwater pumping has also contributed to the loss of riparian habitat.
As fish require permanent water to survive, these habitat alterations initiated the
decline of many native species. Somewhat more recently, nonnative fish and other aquatic
organisms were introduced to our aquatic environments for food, sport, or as bait to support
sport fisheries. As it turns out, nonnative fishes are incompatible with native fish---where
nonnatives become established, native species wane or disappear. It is this avenue of
impact that now is the greatest obstacle to recovery of native fishes.
The Phoenix Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation has become involved in these issues because
Reclamation's Central Arizona Project (CAP) has the potential to transport nonnative fishes and
other aquatic organisms from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to the Gila River basin in Arizona
and New Mexico. If these nonnative species escape the canal, they can travel upstream into waters inhabited by
threatened or endangered native fishes. To reduce the nonnative threat and assist with recovery
of native fishes in the basin, the Phoenix Area Office developed a series of conservation measures with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, that was incorporated in their biological opinion on the
impacts of the CAP to native fishes.
It is hoped that this site will broaden your understanding of the plight of the native
fish species of Arizona and explain in detail the conservation measures Reclamation is
implementing in their behalf. On this site you will find native and nonnative fish
profiles, the status of native species, and descriptions of management practices to aid in
the recovery of native fishes in the Gila River basin of Arizona and New Mexico.
New Fish Barrier in Hot Springs Canyon
Bubbling Ponds Native Fishes Conservation Facility Upgrades
Blue River fish barrier construction is underway
Fossil Creek fish barrier updates
San Pedro Refuge Pond Update
Updates to the website
View videos that describe the plight of Arizona's
CAP water deliveries have the potential to introduce nonnative aquatic species that may jeopardize
the continued existence of native threatened and endangered species. To protect rare native species and their habitats
from future upstream incursions by nonnatives, the construction of several fish barriers
throughout the Gila River Basin is being undertaken.
A listing of federally funded projects that aid in the recovery and protection of
native fish and the research and management against nonnative aquatic species.
What fish can be found in the Gila River Basin or the CAP ?
Sonora Tiger Salamander
November 29, 2011
Joseph J. Billerbeck - email@example.com