Welcome to the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation
Text Size Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size

Hunters Hole

      Gadsden, AZ

Hunters Hole - Photo by ReclamationHunters Hole Bi-national Restoration Design - By Fred Phillips Consulting, LLCHunters Hole Construction, January 2012 - By Fred Phillips Consulting, LLC

Hunters Hole is located along the Colorado River, in Arizona, approximately three miles north of the U.S. and Mexico Southerly International Boundary. Hunters Hole once consisted of a series of interconnected ponds with adjacent marsh and a few stands of cottonwood-willow.  Water levels were maintained by groundwater, irrigation drain flows, and by a connecting channel to the main river channel.  Unfortunately, the site has been degraded and most of the habitat lost due to declining water levels, establishment of invasive plant species, and wildfires.  Local officials from state, tribal, and Federal agencies have joined together in an effort to restore the area while increasing public safety and border security.

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area secured funding from the Arizona Department of Water Resources to restore 44 acres within the Hunters Hole area and the LCR MSCP agreed to provide funding for the long-term maintenance. This 44-acre restored area, referred to as a Conservation Area, contains marsh, riparian, and dry upland habitats. The Conservation Area is expected to attract native and migratory birds, other wildlife species and incorporates restoration needs, international security, cost-sharing, and allows for continued lower Colorado River operations within this reach of the river.

Restoration activities included: selective clearing of invasive reeds and saltcedar while leaving existing native trees, the installation of infrastructure to allow for managed flooding, and planting with native cottonwood-willow, marsh plants, salt grass, and honey mesquite. A groundwater well and pump were installed to provide a reliable fresh water supply, and the irrigation system has been automated to allow for remote control of the irrigation valves, pump and irrigation run times for each flood irrigated cell.

Stakeholders in the project include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. and Mexican Sections of the International and Boundary Water Commissions, Arizona Department of Fish and Game, the City of Yuma, Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, ProNatura Noreste, and private landowners in the Area. The habitat restoration was completed in 2013 and the native riparian area should provide habitat for mammals and birds, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. This cooperative restoration effort was developed with representatives from Mexico and should complement restoration efforts lead by ProNatura Noreste underway across the river, in Mexico, at Miguel Aleman and serves as a model for other binational restoration efforts.

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

Updated December 28, 2015

Hunters Hole is located on Reclamation withdrawn lands in Arizona on the international border with Mexico at River Mile 2.5. 

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.

Click here to see the Hart Mine Marsh GIS map


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 in 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 Arizona Bell's Vireo (transient)
Elf Owl  
Gila Woodpecker  
Gilded Flicker  
Sonoran Yellow Warbler Sonoran Yellow Warbler (migrant)
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher  
Summer Tanager  
Vermilion Flycatcher  
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo  
Bats, Small Mammals, and Insects Bats, Small Mammals, and Insects
California Leaf-Nosed Bat California Leaf-Nosed Bat (foraging)
Townsend's Big-Eared Bat  
Western Red Bat Western Red Bat (foraging)
Western Yellow Bat Western Yellow Bat (foraging)
Yuma Hispid Cotton Rat Yuma Hispid Cotton Rat (incidental)
Marsh Birds Marsh Birds
Black Rail  
Least Bittern  
Yuma Clapper Rail  

The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, as the lead agency for the Hunters Hole restoration and utilizing funding provided by the Arizona Water Protection Fund, cleared, leveled, and installed irrigation infrastructure in the fall of 2011. Riparian planting was completed in the spring of 2012. Routine maintenance activities consist of invasive plant species control, road maintenance, and irrigation scheduling.  The LCR MSCP will maintain ownership of the property and manage the property for LCR MSCP covered species throughout the life of the program.  Automation of the irrigation system is being implemented to reduce on-site labor and lower the annual operating cost of the project.

Bird Monitoring

Surveys for covered birds are conducted annually. Marsh bird surveys were conducted until 2014 when the marsh transitioned to riprarian woodland. 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 the listed southwestern willow flycatcher and yellow-billed cuckoo, and the following covered species: Arizona Bell’s vireo, Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker, Sonoran yellow warbler, summer tanager and vermillion flycatcher.

Mammal Monitoring

Small mammal live trapping is conducted annually to monitor presence of Yuma hispid cotton rats and desert pocket mice at the conservation area. Bat presence is monitored annually from June through August by remotely recording echolocation calls using a long-term Anabat™ station.

Acreage Map

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

Hunters Hole Acreage Map

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