Gila Valley

The Gila Valley NRCD was organized on December 19, 1941. It‟s boundaries overlap two counties: Graham and Greenlee. The district encompasses about 498,111 acres. The Gila River runs through the center of the district and is definitely the most defining feature and heart of the community.

Physical Features

Elevation: 2700 ft.- 10,720 ft. at the top of Mt. Graham

Terrain: Comprised of multiple terrains including high Mountain ranges, steep rugged canyons, low river valleys, and Desert plains.

Precipitation: Average of 9-14″ annually; varying with elevation

Primary Resource Concerns

  • Water availability/Quantity/Quality
  • Soil Erosion & Soil Quality
  • Livestock Production Limitations
  • Inefficient Energy Use
  • Degraded Plant Condition
  • Noxious and Invasive Plants

Conservation Practices on the Ground

  • Improved Irrigation Management
  • Fencing/Grazing Management
  • Brush Control/ Management
  • Water Distribution
  • Noxious & Invasive Plant Control
  • Vegetative Filter Strip
  • Solar Powered Livestock Watering System
  • Coordinated Conservation Ranch Planning
  • Coordinated Conservation Partnership Initiative
  • Installation of Renewable Energy Production Systems

District Highlights

The purpose of the Gila Valley NRCD is to provide local leadership and education to ensure the wise use and management of all natural resources within the District. We are entrusted to develop comprehensive programs and plans that conserve, and improve the quality of natural resources.

The Gila Valley NRCD serves the counties of
Graham and Greenlee, located in southeastern
Arizona. The District‟s most defining feature is
the Gila River, which runs directly through the
area creating a diversity of landscapes, including
high mountain ranges and low desert plains.
The diverse landscape and climate create the
prime location for fish, plant and wildlife
habitat along with abundant outdoor
recreational and tourism opportunities. Located
in the Gila Valley NRCD are the Apache
Sitgreaves and Coronado National Forests, Gila
Box Riparian National Conservation Area,
Dankworth Pond Outdoor Archeological
Classroom, Roper Lake State Park, Natural Hot
Springs, Mt. Graham International Observatory,
Discovery Park, Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area, Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area, and Eagle Creek Bat Caves. A portion of the US Fish & Wildlife Mexican Grey Wolf Recovery Area is also located within the district.

The district has seen a lot of growth and development throughout the years, but agriculture remains the predominate land use. The majority of ranches in the Gila Valley district include private, state and federal owned land, making Coordinated Resource Management Plans essential. Recurrent drought continues to negatively impact feed and forage production, irrigation water supply, crop production, and soil quality. The recurrent drought conditions have also contributed to more frequent wildfires, which have caused severe flooding and erosion within the district.

Farmers in the district must rely on surface water for irrigating their crops. The Arizona Water Rights Settlement has had a huge impact on farming in the district. With strict water allocations, farmers must continually search for ways to produce crops with less water. Traditionally, surface flood or furrow irrigation systems have been used, but several farms in the district have installed drip irrigation systems for conservation and efficiency.

The majority of ranches in the district are operated using traditional ranching methods, but, there are a few that are trying to diversify, and are implementing more non- traditional practices. One ranch in the Gila Valley NRCD is focusing on both eco-tourism and sustainable ranching. They run Texas Longhorn Cattle because of their hardiness and ability to adapt to any area. They practice a continuous rotational grazing system and operate entirely on solar and wind powered energy. They are also known for their dude ranch vacations, teambuilding workshops, erosion control workshops, wilderness survival workshops, and cattle driving workshops.

Agriculture is a major contributor to the area‟s economy. Therefore, the management of land within the District to ensure agricultural sustainability is extremely crucial.


Contact Information

Amy Herbert

(928) 428-5537 ext 3