Local leaders including the Gila River Indian Community, West Valley mayors, Maricopa County officials and state agency representatives met in support of the Lower Gila River Collaborative (LGRC).
The LGRC is a growing cooperative effort to restore natural resources along the lower Gila River, improve access to nature-based recreation and promote the river as an amenity in the West Valley.
The lower Gila River stretches from West Phoenix, east to the historic Gillespie Dam Bridge, providing opportunities for bird watching, fishing, kayaking and more. Every year in late winter, partners host the Tres Rios Nature Festival at Base and Meridian Wildlife Areas to celebrate this ecologically rich desert waterway.
LGRC is increasing these kinds of opportunities for communities to get to know their backyard river while improving wildlife habitat and restoring river flows. Among the biggest challenges that the partners are taking on is the invasive salt cedar, a Mediterranean tree species that drastically alters the flow and function of the river. The LGRC invites the public to participate in restoration and stewardship with an online event calendar, volunteer opportunities and upcoming meetings at lowergilariver.net.
“We have been working with partners for several years on this vision,” City of Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck, who serves on the LGRC Leadership Council, stated in a news release. “It’s wonderful to see it continue and grow.”
On July 29, the LGRC Leadership Council met for the first time to affirm commitment to regional priorities for this unique river system: ecological restoration, river recreation, economic development and tourism and community engagement. Leaders celebrated recent achievements including invasive plant removal, native vegetation planting, new research and mapping and public volunteer events.
“Collaboration that creates environmental, social and economic value along the Lower Gila not only enriches the region, but also provides a direct benefit to the investment and efforts the city of Phoenix has made to revitalize the Salt River corridor over the past two decades,” City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, also a member of the LGRC Leadership Council stated.
The Lower Gila River Collaborative ensures place-based planning, reflexive decision-making and improved effectiveness of West Valley projects. It complements the 2006 El Rio regional vision for a healthy and resilient river, accelerating the work of partners to accomplish shared goals.
The LGRC Leadership Council includes mayors and councilmembers of Buckeye, Goodyear, Avondale and Phoenix; Maricopa County Flood Control District and Parks and Recreation Directors, the Governor of the Gila River Indian Community and representatives of AZ Game and Fish Department and AZ State Forestry and Fire Management. The Collaborative engages over 40 additional partners from the public, non-profit and private sectors in its working groups and committees, and meets as a full collaborative annually.