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Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation
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Pretty Water Conservation Area

      Located on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in California

Pretty Water Conservation Area – Photo by ReclamationPretty Water Conservation Area – Photo by ReclamationPretty Water Conservation Area – Photo by Reclamation

The Pretty Water Conservation Area (PWCA) consists of approximately 566 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the Colorado River on Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in California. The property lies east of the Palo Verde Irrigation District (PVID) main drain, south of active agricultural lands within the PVID, and north of the old river channel known as Pretty Water.

In July 2006, lightning ignited a fire on Cibola NWR, burning approximately 4,600 acres of saltcedar with some intermixed mesquite in both California and Arizona. The Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have entered into a long-term agreement under the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) to restore a portion of this burned area.

Planning for restoration of PWCA began in 2012 and the majority of restoration activities were completed between January and September of 2015. Prior to restoration, PWCA consisted of dense saltcedar, thick stands of native arrowweed, and approximately 90 acres of an existing honey mesquite bosque. Restoration of the site involved two primary activities: 1) removing saltcedar from the existing mesquite bosque, and 2) clearing areas that will be planted with honey mesquite.

Nonnative vegetation (primarily saltcedar) was removed from the existing honey mesquite bosque. Any nonnative vegetation that establishes itself from seed or resprouts will be managed for the initial years after restoration to ensure that this area of PWCA remains relatively free of nonnative vegetation.

Areas to be cleared and planted were selected based on the existing density of saltcedar, with areas of high density saltcedar being targeted. Saltcedar and other vegetation were completely removed from these areas while large honey mesquite (and other native) trees were left in place. All removed vegetation was buried on-site to prevent resprouting. The total acreage that was cleared and planted with honey mesquite seedlings was approximately 220 acres. Planting took place in April of 2015 and seedlings were irrigated through September 2015. Nonnative vegetation will also be controlled in these newly planted areas to allow the mesquite seedlings to successfully establish themselves.

A fact sheet for this Conservation Area can be found here. Technical Reports for this Conservation Area can be found here.

Updated January 7, 2020

Pretty Water Conservation Area is located between river miles 95-97 on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge in California. Construction took place in spring of 2015. Access to the public was restricted during construction activities but was restored upon completion of construction.

For specific information on the Conservation Area, please contact Terry Murphy, Restoration Group Manager, at (702) 293-8140 or via email at tmurphy@usbr.gov.

The image below shows a close up of the conservation area.

Pretty Water Conservation Area


Each Conservation Area targets certain LCR MSCP covered and evaluation species habitats. Below, on the left, is a list of the LCR MSCP species in which habitat will be targeted for creation for this particular conservation area. To the right is a list of LCR MSCP species that, through monitoring, have been found utilizing the conservation area.

Targeted LCR MSCP Species LCR MSCP Species Utilizing Site
Riparian Obligates Riparian Obligates
Arizona Bell's Vireo
Elf Owl  
Vermilion Flycatcher
Bats, Small Mammals, and Insects Bats, Small Mammals, and Insects
Western Red Bat
Western Yellow Bat
MacNeill's Sootywing Skipper (breeding)

Bird Monitoring

Surveys for covered birds are conducted annually. During the late spring and summer, presence surveys are conducted for riparian birds to document use of the conservation area for nesting, foraging, and migration. Riparian birds monitored include: Arizona Bell’s vireo, Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker, yellow warbler, summer tanager and vermilion flycatcher.

Mammal Monitoring

Bat monitoring has not begun at Pretty Water Conservation Area. It will begin once sufficient vegetation is present to provide habitat.

Insect Monitoring

Surveys are conducted for MacNeill’s sootywing skipper to document presence of the species in the conservation area.

Acreage Map

This map shows the acreage for this area. You can click on the map for a larger view.

Pretty Water Acreage

This gallery includes photos of this conservation area. If you require larger photos, please contact our webmaster Michelle Reilly at mreilly@usbr.gov.