Audubon Arizona has approved the award of an Important Bird Area designation to a 17 mile stretch of the middle section of the Verde River. Starting from Parsons Park just west of I-17, the IBA follows the Verde River and includes the section of Wet Beaver Creek that extends up to Montezuma Castle National Monument and terminates at Rockin’ River Ranch State Park.
The application was submitted by the Town of Camp Verde and was supported by funding provided by Friends of the Verde River and many volunteer hours by members of the Northern Arizona Audubon Society.
The Verde River is one of Arizona’s last remaining perennially flowing river systems, with healthy riparian vegetation, including the extremely rare Fremont Cottonwood-Gooding Willow gallery forest type. It provides a unique habitat that is preferred by bird species of concern, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Bell’s Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and Lucy’s Warbler.
The land ownership along the Verde River corridor through the Town of Camp Verde is a mix of private lands, public lands owned by Coconino National Forest and Arizona State Parks, tribal lands owned by the Yavapai Apache Nation, and public parks owned by the Town of Camp Verde.
Currently, the best access points to this IBA are Rezzonico Park in Camp Verde and the Clear Creek campground area in Coconino National Forest. Future access points include Parsons Park in Camp Verde, Homestead Park in Prescott National Forest, and Rockin’ River Ranch State Park which are all planned to be opened to the public after development is complete.
Our chapter is most fortunate in having four IBA’s in our territory: Lower Oak Creek, Tuzigoot, Anderson Mesa and now Camp Verde. The richness of habitat in our area is something that we strive to protect through our various programs and volunteer efforts.
The following folks were instrumental in making the Camp Verde IBA happen: Dena Greenwood, Randy Miller, Chip Engelmann, Holly Kleindienst, Rich Armstrong, Chip Norton, Vic Nelson, Rob Bonner,, George Kleindienst, Whit Manter, Kay Hawklee, Lisa Grubbs, Julie Wills, Kristen Rothrock, Sam Hough, Pat Scott, Heather English, Joe Willy, Dana Epstein, Kathe Anderson, Rita Faruki, Dennis Tomko Dana Epstein. Apologies if we have missed anyone. It seems that it takes a village to set an IBA in a town.
IBAs are an important component of global bird habitat conservation and Audubon is the focal point of this international program. If you would like to learn more about the IBA program, please click here: https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas