OVERVIEW Several miles northeast of downtown Prescott, Arizona there is a rare and threatened forest type and it is being protected and restored by Prescott Creeks members and community volunteers! The 126-acre Watson Woods Riparian Preserve is the remaining portion of what was once a 1,000-acre riparian (streamside) forest of cottonwood and willow trees. Following trends around the southwestern United States, the riparian habitat at Watson Woods had been lost or severely degraded as a result of decades of livestock grazing, illegal dumping, firewood cutting, and most notably, sand and gravel extraction during the mid-20th century. In spite of long term abuses to this area, it has been healing itself. Over the past 40 years most of the vegetation and wildlife now found at Watson Woods has returned on its own. Cottonwoods and willows that create a cathedral-like atmosphere over Granite Creek and the edge of a perennial pond provide habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Since establishment of the Preserve in 1995, the City of Prescott has grown to the north and east, and Watson Woods Riparian Preserve has become a sort of oasis for wildlife and humans alike. VISIT and EXPERIENCE In addition to preservation and restoration activities, the Preserve is open for public use. A quiet visitor might encounter a green-backed heron fishing the pond, a Mexican vole scurrying along runways under the grasses, or a common kingsnake winding its way through the branches of a toppled cottonwood. Plan your visit:
- Be knowledgeable about the Preserve Hours of Operation and Rules.
- Know what to bring with you on your visit.
- Get directions.
- Download the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve brochure.
- Inventory & Monitoring