“Western Bluebirds find restored riparian habitat before it is completed.”
During the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve Restoration project, we had a plating effort going during the end of February. The particular week we were in the field it happened to be raining and snowing quite a bit so Preserve conditions were a bit challenging. We’d worked with community volunteers to harvest cottonwood poles from donor trees, and our task was to dig pits down to the water table and plant the poles. The water table was about 6 feet down at the time, so we’d enlisted the assistance of Fann Environmental and two of their backhoes to help us get down through the gravel and cobble on the floodplain. Our crews were working eight straight 10 hour days and I was filling in for our field projects coordinator. When I arrived at the Preserve in the morning, there was about 1 inch of very wet snow on the ground. The day was forecast to warm slightly and stay overcast. Soon the snow began to melt and we were sliding around. Everyone was quickly covered in mud; it was miserable. About halfway through the day we completed planting in one area and both of the noisy backhoes were turned off. It was so quiet. At the same moment, the clouds parted and a shaft of sunlight shown down on that section of the Preserve, and a troop of 15 Western Bluebirds drifted in together and perched upon the cottonwoods we had just planted. It was like something you’d see in a movie; it seemed too good to be true. But it wasn’t. Others were seeing it too. We hadn’t even finished the project and it was doing the job we intended.
The restoration project was designed largely to restore functional aspects of the Granite Creek floodplain. This particular project was on the edge of ‘wetland #2’ and area designed to capture and slow overbank flows from Granite Creek and improve water quality. The Prescott Creeks mission is to achieve healthy watersheds and clean water in Central Arizona for the benefit of people and wildlife through protection, restoration, education and advocacy.
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