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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.

Central Arizona Project Photo 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.

What's New - Banner
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
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View videos that describe the plight of Arizona's Right Arrow Link native fish.

Fish Barriers - Banner
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. Right Arrow Link

Conservation Efforts- Banner
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.
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What fish can be found in the Gila River Basin or the CAP ?
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Sonora Tiger Salamander
Sonora Tiger Salamander

Last Reviewed:
November 29, 2011

Joseph J. Billerbeck - jbillerbeck@usbr.gov