Restoration project supported by ADWR’s Water Protection Fund deemed a “great success”

Restoration project supported by ADWR’s Water Protection Fund deemed a “great success”

May 4, 2023


One small headcut below the 44 canyon exclosure (Credit: USDA Forest Service/Coconino National Forest)

In times of severe drought, hydrological success stories can come few and far between, so a report from the U.S. Forest Service – Coconino National Forest about a successful restoration project on the Verde River watershed is welcome news.

According to a post on the Forest Service’s Coconino National Forest Facebook page, a hydrological restoration project begun 22 years ago to restore 2,800 feet of stream channel is working as envisioned, without human maintenance.

Known as the 2001 Clover Springs restoration project, the reach is “performing as planned,” according to the Forest Service Facebook report:

Lower stream reach downstream (Credit: USDA Forest Service/Coconino National Forest)

The Clover Springs project “restored 2,800 feet of stream channel in a montane meadow at Clover Springs in the headwaters of West Clear Creek within the Verde River watershed [and is showing] 22 years of success...for the most part.

“The reach is performing as planned; the water is spreading out and moving through the constructed meanders without maintenance.”

The Clover Springs project was a partnership between the Coconino National Forest and Northern Arizona University.

It was accomplished with partial funding from the Arizona Department of Water Resources' Arizona Water Protection Fund, as well funding from an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality 319 grant.

"It is great to see the investments made by the Arizona Water Protection Fund and AWPF Commission continue to provide benefits to riparian habitats and water resources on these and other similar projects across the State," said Reuben Teran, manager of the Water Protection Fund program.  

Video of the process, as well as video of the channel prior to construction, can be found below.

West Clear Creek Map

The Forest Service notes that the project includes two elk fences to exclude all grazing, including one smaller exclosure in the 44 Canyon portion of the Clover Springs reach, as well as a larger exclosure below where Dirtyneck Canyon crosses State Highway 87.

The two exclosures were designed without grazing-proof fencing, however, so that elk, deer and other large animals can cross State Highway 87 and not be trapped by the fence.

For the record, the Forest Service reports that this season’s snowpack runoff through the reach has been “great.”

“The Hoxworth Springs drainage, which is located in the Upper Lake Mary watershed, [has] had multiple stream restoration projects, beginning in 1996 through 2010, and this year’s stream flows were a perfect chance to monitor these,” notes the Forest Service.

The first reach restoration was a partnership among multiple colleges from Northern Arizona University and was partially funded by the ADWR Arizona Water Protection Fund.