Okay, let’s take that idea and turn it over for another look.
The other morning I dropped my hubby off at work and took the dog down to Wild Horse Pass, just south of my neighborhood, where the aggressive strips of suburbia give way to open land on the Pima Indian Reservation. This area of the rez was once drained by the Gila River which no longer flows thanks to upstream dams. Maybe because of the river’s thick deposits of silt or perhaps generations of subsistence living stripped it of trees and shrubs, but this area is barren even by desert standards. Only bristling clumps of woody grasses break up the sandy expanse, and it is hard to imagine wild horses or anything else surviving out here.
But at Wild Horse Pass Resort the Pimas recreated the water flow of the Gila River with a cement lined stream, powered by pumps, that meanders and ripples through the arid landscape. Jump starting the natural process the tribe also planted native species along the banks; cottonwood trees, desert willows, screwbean mesquites, velvet willows, and fourwing saltbush thrive – helped along by discreetly placed irrigation emitters as the cement lining does not allow seepage that would benefit thirsty roots. The path we walked is sandwiched between this faux riparian area and the lush golf course. With South Mountain and the Sierra Estrellas flanking the area, it is very pretty.
However manipulated the riparian scenario, it is attracting lots of wildlife. Mallards and loons paddled along the stretches of water where cattails crowd the banks. A black crowned night heron skimmed overhead, fishing for the Sonoran Suckerfish planted in the shallow waters. Numerous LBB (highly technical birding term for little brown birds) chirped in thick undergrowth and a cottontail rabbit skittered off flashing its white namesake tail. And when Lexie and I turned back along the path an osprey (!) flapped overhead, turning its eye toward us dismissively before continuing to follow the precious waterway for the life it brings.