Wellton-Mohawk Valley

The Wellton-Mohawk Valley Soil Conservation District was voted on in a referendum January 8, 1949. The boundaries include lands lying east of Highway 95 to the Yuma County line. The northern boundary includes much of the Yuma Proving Grounds and the Kofa Game Range. The southern boundary includes the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge and the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range, a total of 1,323,180 acres.

Land Use

Only 8% of the Weldon-Mohawk Valley NRCD is private land, and 90% of that land is in irrigated agriculture. There is no dry land cropping or rangelands within the District. Irrigation water is supplied through the Weldon-Mohawk Valley Irrigation and Drainage District to the 90+ farming units. The average farm consists of 1400 acres. Around 90% of the lands being farmed are by third and fourth generation family members. 

Land Ownership in Wellton-Mohawk Valley

  • Bureau of Reclamation 23,000 acres
  • Bureau of Land Mgmt. 184,000 acres
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife 161,280 acres
  • Yuma Proving Grounds 351,340 acres
  • Barry Goldwater Range 274,480 acres
  • State Trust 232,000 acres
  • Private 115,000 acres

Primary Resource Concerns

  • Flood control
  • Water Availability/Quantity/Quality
  • Food Safety
  • PM 10-Best Management Practices-Air Quality
  • Educational Programs

Conservation Practices on the Ground

  • Irrigation Management/Ditch lining
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Land Leveling
  • Manuring
  • Improved Irrigation Management and Efficiencies

District Highlights

The Wellton-Mohawk Valley supported agriculture as early as 1538 when the Pima Indians farmed the bottomlands of the Gila River. in 1857 the Butterfield Stage Lines route between San Diego and San Antonio marked the start of homestead filings in the Wellton area. The Southern Pacific Railroad was constructed in 1878 and development of the farmlands using Gila River water started. Canal systems were constructed to divert the Gila waters, but this source proved erratic. Farmers then established wells in 1900. Dams built on the Gila River about the Wellton-Mohawk reduced flows and ground water pumping depleted the water table. As a result, the groundwater became increasingly salty. The importing of Colorado River water was determined to be the solution and the Bureau of Reclamation constructed a complete delivery system by 1957. The groundwater was rapidly recharged and because the valley is geologically sealed, irrigation wells became drainage wells to keep the watertable under control.

Farmers in the Weldon-Mohawk Valley grew alfalfa hay, Bermuda grass for seed and hay, cotton, small grains, melons, and seed crops as their main crops until the 1980s. During that period, the laser was adapted for leveling land by Floyd Spar, a local farmer. The use of the laser allowed farm fields to be ” pool table” flat, eliminating water runoff and allowing very efficient use of irrigation water. Developed during this period were the large flow irrigation turnouts which allowed non-erosive irrigation streams to be used, reducing labor and increasing irrigation efficiencies. 

While some winter lettuce was grown, the production of fresh greens, cauliflower, broccoli, head lettuce, spinach and baby lettuces exploded in the last 30 years. Farming has become a science in the Weldon-Mohawk Valley NRCD, The farmers continue to be innovators in combining tillage practices to reduce soil compaction; using integrated pest management to reduce pesticide and herbicide use and various types of sprinklers to continue to improve in water conservation and efficiency. Cotton, wheat Sudan grass and summer crops are grown for soil improvements in the summer months. Produce season is August to April, with melons harvested May to November.

Conservation District Supervisors are very involved in grower organization; Farm Bureau; programs offered through NRCS as well was providing coordination between county, state and federal agencies to facilitate utility routes; air quality issues; wildlife enhancement; food safety and maintaining production agriculture. The District coordinates with Federal Agencies on air quality issues to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency is knowledgeable of the local concerns of agricultural producers, considerable efforts of producers to reach PM 10 compliance.

The towns of Wellton, Tacna, Roll and Datelined are the primary population centers. Numerous winter visitor parks and housing areas have been developed over the past 10 years.

Contact Information

Sari McLaurin

(928) 785-9401

(928) 782-0860

P.O. Box 997

Wellton, AZ 85356-0997

frmwf@aol.com