Friday, May 27, 2011

Tour of Tres Rios Wetlands

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Tres Rios Wetlands, May 20th, 2011

Great Blue Herons share a kiss at
the Heron rookery on 91st Ave.

 On Friday, May 20th, I had the privilege of touring the full-scale Tres Rios Wetlands with Ron Elkins, Tres Rios Operations & Maintenance Supervisor.  Ron must surely think I have a quite limited vocabulary, because all I kept saying throughout the tour was "Wow!  Look at THAT!".  Ron sure had plenty to say though, you can tell he's poured his heart and soul into the wetlands project, and knows every inch of the area.  Who better to get a private tour with?! 

The full scale Tres Rios project encompasses about 500 acres of wetlands.  Tres Rios, the confluence of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers, is green with vegetation and alive with wildlife.  The project spans 91st Avenue to the Agua Fria River.

As we toured the first set of ponds Ron explained the complexities of the wetlands project.  There are several entities that have been and still are involved in its completion.  The list includes the E.P.A.,  The Army Corps of Engineers, City of Phoenix Parks and Rec. Dept., Phoenix Water Services Dept., the cities of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Avondale, the Maricopa County Flood Control District and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Whew!  To add to the mix, the City of Phoenix recently commissioned environmental artist Adam Kuby to work with an engineering and landscape architect to design an enhanced trail system with interactive art.  So Ron's done quite a juggling act in dealing with all of them and in trying to get part of Tres Rios open to the public.
Killdeer at Tres Rios

The area will hopefully open by next summer and will include viewing platforms, shade structures, pedestrian bridges, bird viewing areas, and trail connections between the wetland’s and the nearby river.  If all goes as planned, the new Tres Rios Wetlands facility could become the premiere birding hotspot in all of Maricopa County and likely be the most wheelchair accessible!

For an overview of the work done at the full scale Tres Rios Wetlands Project and to see an interview with my great tour guide Ron Elkins, see this VIDEO by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  For more information and updates, see the Tres Rios Website.

THANK YOU Debbi Radford for commenting on my blog and arranging the tour, and thank you again Ron Elkins for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give me a most informative tour of Tres Rios - soon to be the crown jewel of the Valley!
Part of the water from the wetlands is released into the Salt River.

Note from Debbi Radford, Tres Rios Project Coordinator:

We are in the design phase for the recreation component and anticipate the site being open by the summer of 2012, but that date is dependent on the rate and amount of federal funding received for the project.
Currently, I am providing birders who wish to bird in the overbank wetlands area with a Parking and Ingress Permit, which was developed in conjunction with the Estrella Mountain Police Precinct. This allows birders to park along 91st Avenue and step over the gate to walk inside without worrying about being ticketed for trespassing.  Special arrangements can be made for handicapped birders, of course. We are counting on the birders keeping the site as clean as we want it to be. Any birder who is interested just needs to call or email me with their postal mailing address to get a permit.
Debbi Radford
Tres Rios Project Coordinator
200 West Washington St., 9th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Fax 602-495-5843

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...