Cattle damage to Arizona’s Verde River spurs legal action


By Madison Staten, Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Jun 25, 2020


PHOENIX – It’s a tale of two rivers: The Verde, which flows south from near Flagstaff to metro Phoenix, and the San Pedro, which begins in Mexico and flows north to Winkelman.


In some ways, the rivers differ drastically. The San Pedro is one of the last undammed rivers in the Southwest, while the Verde has many dams, including Horseshoe and Bartlett northeast of Phoenix. Parts of the Verde are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – protections the San Pedro doesn’t share.


But for all the differences, there are many similarities. Both have diverse ecosystems that are home to many endangered wildlife species, including the southwestern willow flycatcher and loach minnow. Both have felt the effects of increased groundwater pumping and cattle grazing. And, just recently, both have been at the center of lawsuits filed to protect each river.


“The story of Arizona rivers is that we have demonstrated many times that we can dry them up, but we haven’t demonstrated that we can save them,” said Sandy Bahr, the director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.


In this two-part series, Cronkite News takes a deep dive into these two Arizona rivers and the threats they face.


Part 1: The Verde ...


more, including links, photos, video report [2:04 min.]