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MIGRATORY BIRD WALK AT THE HASSAYAMPA PRESERVE, 8:30-10:30 am, Friday, March 22, at the Preserve at 49614 Highway US 60, limited to 24 people; $15 fee (covers entrance fee).
The Hassayampa River Preserve is located on the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert. The Preserve is a flight path for hundreds of migratory birds, making it one of the top bird-watching areas in Central Arizona. In this arid environment, the Preserve is ecologically significant because of the high-quality cottonwood willow forest it protects. This streamside forest or “riparian” plant community has evolved along the continuously flowing stretch of the Lower Hassayampa River. For most of its length, the Hassayampa, or “the river that flows upside down,” runs underground. Its riverbed is dry and sandy, but along a five-mile section of the 770-acre Preserve the river flows above ground year-round. Water-loving plants thrive here, thus making the Preserve one of the best remaining examples of riparian habitat in Arizona. A dense forest provides shade and tranquility from the surrounding Sonoran Desert heat as well as allowing habitat for a rich variety of reptiles and mammals. The Hassayampa River Preserve is now a part of the Maricopa County parks system. The tour begins at 9:00 a.m., so plan to arrive and be ready to start by 8:45a.m. Wear good walking shoes, bring binoculars, water etc. You are welcome to stay at the Preserve after the tour, so you may want to bring a snack or lunch to enjoy in the Preserve or go to lunch in Wickenburg.
Instructor Jessica Bland is the Interpretive Ranger and site manager at the Hassayampa Preserve. Prior to coming to work for Maricopa County in 2013, she worked as a park ranger and an archaeologist for the Federal government for 14 years.