Watershed Improvement

We all live in a watershed—the area that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, or even the ocean—and our individual actions can directly affect it. The Diablo Trust and its partners are working together on a watershed basis to protect our region’s water resources.

Over the last 10 years, Flying M Ranch has been actively restoring its grasslands to their native state. Dense stands of pinyon-juniper trees have been removed by hand and mechanically. The usable wood from these trees on private land has been sold throughout northern Arizona and beyond. Unusable “slash” has been scattered, or piled and burned. This is an on-going process.

The objectives of this project include:

  • To improve the browse component for the local deer herds
  • To improve vegetation and visibility for pronghorn
  • To create wildlife pathways from summer to winter ranges
  • To improve the watershed by restoring the area to its native grassland state. 

Over the past 5 years, Bar T Bar Ranch, with the help of NRCS and a Habitat Partnership Grant has treated about 9,000 acres on state and private land north of Anderson Mesa. Juniper trees have been uprooted and then placed in windrows across drainage’s to slow erosion.

An additional goal has been to improve visibility for pronghorn, and therefore, encourage them to expand their habitat into an area once widely used by them.

The forbes component has increased significantly since the treatment has occurred, also a benefit to antelope. It addition to reducing the competition for available moisture, the uprooted tree carcasses provide microclimates for new plant growth. Surveys indicate pronghorn use in the area has increased substantially since the treatment.

Looking north across the water (Diablo Trust archives)

The challenge in maintaining open space is to pay for it by finding viable options that ensure long-term economic viability . . . We really are trying to think outside the box.
— Bob Prosser, Bar T Bar Ranch

Other watershed improvement projects include:

  • Arizona Game & Fish Department volunteers cleared juniper trees on ~1700-1800 acres by hand
  • The Winter Browse & Watershed Stabilization Project added an additional 3,776 acres to the area that has been chained (total 7,176)
  • Winter browse & watershed restoration project—150 acres completed of juniper clearing on Wilkins Pasture, Coconino National Forest
  • 300 acres to go to complete NEPA
  • Participation in the Anderson Mesa Pronghorn Antelope planning process
  • Drought relief—Pipeline extension of about 4 miles to provide water for livestock and wildlife in areas currently poorly watered
  • Two other pipeline projects are awaiting approval that are to benefit antelope by providing water in poorly watered areas in the northern and western areas of the Bar T Bar winter range.
  • Watershed restoration projects for the Anderson Mesa rim and immediate upland area
  • Spring rest and grassland burn projects, to enhance pronghorn fawn habitat, 1200+ acres
  • Woodland/grassland restoration project on Anderson Mesa - 230 acres of summer range
  • Small watershed restoration demonstration – attempt restoration of small currently dry spring and multiple seeps, on transition winter/summer range
  • Continuing to restore winter wildlife browse on transition range areas
  • Continuing to create wildlife pathways on transition range areas
  • Grassland restoration and watershed stabilization projects—a 4000-acre project & a 1200-acre project
  • Winter browse project—200 acres of State Trust Land and private land
  • Wildlife pathway creation (0.75 miles), on transition winter/summer range