The Upper San Pedro: Concerted Long-Term Measures to Preserve its Riparian Treasure
David C. Goodrich and a Cast of Hundreds
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, AZ
The Upper San Pedro Basin, spanning the Mexico – U.S. border from Sonora to Arizona contains a vibrant riparian corridor. The ecological significance of its riparian corridor is well recognized. There is also recognition that the health of its riparian system is also threatened by over pumping. This presentation will provide background on the Upper San Pedro Basin and trace the extraordinary efforts undertaken to understand the basin’s hydrology and riparian water needs well as the efforts on the part of residents of the basin and a wide array of stakeholders. It will discuss the transition through science and research for understanding; to science for addressing a need; to integrated policy development and science. At each stage the research conducted becomes more interdisciplinary, first across abiotic disciplines (hydrology, remote sensing, atmospheric science), then a merging of abiotic disciplines with ecology and plant physiology, and finally a further merging with the social sciences and policy and decision making for resource management. The self-organized Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP -, and the Cochise Conservation & Recharge Network (CCRN - have played critical roles moving conservation and preservation efforts of the San Pedro Riparian forward. The purpose of the USPP is to coordinate and cooperate in the implementation of comprehensive policies and projects to meet the long-term water needs of residents within the U.S. side of the basin and of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The Partnership consists of 21 local, state, and Federal agencies, NGO's and a development interest. The Partnership is dedicated to science-based decision making. Federal, university, and NSF SAHRA Science and Technology Center research was planned and conducted directly with the USPP. An important research result was the development of metrics based on easily monitored hydrologic data indicating the health of riparian reaches that are still monitored today. The CCRN is a collaborative partnership consisting of Ft. Huachuca, the City of Sierra Vista, Cochise County and the US Bureau of Land Management that began in 2015 to utilize research and monitoring results to implement tangible water projects to increase water availability to meet future water demands of the riparian area and the basin.