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Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation
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Laguna Division Conservation Area

      Located South of Imperial Dam in Both California and Arizona

Aerial view of the Laguna Division Conservation Area looking north - Photo by ReclamationAerial of both the Laguna Settling Basin on the right and the All American Canal on the left - Photo by ReclamationAerial of the Imperial Dam - Photo by Reclamation

In 2007, the Laguna Division Planning Group was formed to identify potential restoration projects within this reach of the river. The intent was to identify potential restoration projects and combine resources to ensure any actions taken in the area have minimal affect other potential restoration projects or ongoing river operations. Currently, there are three river operational requirements and constraints: water delivery, sediment removal, and power generation.

The Laguna Division Planning Group consists of representatives from the following organizations:

The product from the planning group was identified as the Laguna Division Conservation Area (LDCA). Restoration began in November 2011 and is scheduled for completion in 2016.  The LDCA is nestled between the Imperial Dam and the Laguna Dam with Mittry Wildlife Area to the east and the Laguna Settling Basin to the west.  LDCA will replace large saltcedar stands with a mosaic of open water, marsh, riparian and upland habitat, restoring over 1,200 acres of native vegetation along several former river meanders.  These land cover types will be maintained with a maximum base flow of 100 cfs from the Gila Settling Basin.  To minimize earthwork, cuts and fills follow the existing topography where feasible.  Adjacent terraces would be graded to allow flooding and promote the establishment of native riparian species.  Water control structures are constructed to manage water levels.  Upland vegetation will receive water through a combination of flooding and drip irrigation.

In February 2011, a Finding of No Significant Impact was signed by Reclamation.  Installation of a 48” diameter pipeline to deliver water to the site began in September 2011 in conjunction with clearing of the upper portions of the project (approximately 500 acres).  First planting, marsh species for the northern cell, is anticipated in 2013.  Final planting, riparian and upland species in the southern cell, is scheduled for the spring of 2015.  Additional project timeline information can be found in the “activities” tab.

The habitat of LDCA is expected to attract a variety of LCR MSCP covered species including the California black rail, Yuma clapper rail, southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, Yuma hispid cotton rat, and western least bittern.

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

Updated December 30, 2015

The Laguna Division Conservation Area, located between river miles 43-49, contains Reclamation withdrawn lands in both Arizona and California.  Construction activities began in late 2011 and are expected to be completed in 2014.  During the construction period, there is no public access.

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.

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

All environmental compliance is completed for LDCA and the Section 404 permit was approved.  Equipment has been mobilized to the site and construction activities began the first week of October 2011.  Construction began with placement of 2,300 ft of 48” HDPE pipeline from the inlet at the Gila Settling Basin to the LDCA headworks at the north end of the project site.  Clearing the entire site of non-native vegetation began in November 2011, starting from the north and working south.  Reach 2 clearing began in October 2012. All earthwork was completed by April 2014. The construction of water control structures began in April 2012 and was finished in February 2014.  Planting began in August 2013 and is expected to continue until spring of 2015.  Additional planting may occur in spring of 2016, depending on how well native vegetation from the initial planting establishes. Access to the LDCA is prohibited during the construction and restoration period.

Project Milestones/Schedule

LDCA will be completed in three primary phases:

  • Site clearing
  • Water delivery components construction
  • Revegetation

Throughout the entire project, stakeholder coordination; environmental, cultural, and lands compliance; site monitoring; and project management activities are ongoing.

The following table includes milestones and/or the schedule. Time frames listed for the project are subject to change.

Date Milestone
2007 Laguna Division Planning Group Formed
2009 Draft Design Developed
October 2010 Project Approved for Inclusion to LCR MSCP
December 2010 Draft Environmental Assessment
February 2011 Final Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact
February-May 2011 Corps of Engineers Section 404 Permit Coordination
September-December 2011 Pipeline Construction
November 2011- November 2013 Clearing Operations and Earth Moving
April 2012-April 2014 Construction of Water Control Structures and access roads
September 2013-April 2015 Vegetation Planting

Laguna Poster

Below is the Laguna Division Conservation Area 2012 poster. You can click on the poster for a larger view.

Laguna Division Poster

Laguna Construction Photos

Below are photos of construction in November 2011 from the Laguna Division Conservation Area. You can click on the images for a larger view.

Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation
Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation Laguna Division Conservation Area Construction November 2011 - Photo by Reclamation

Bird Monitoring

Surveys for covered birds are conducted annually. Marsh bird surveys are conducted in March, April, and May at established points for California black rail, western least bittern, and Yuma clapper rail. 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, yellow warbler, summer tanager and vermillion flycatcher.

Acreage Map

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

Laguna Division 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.

Below is a video on the Laguna Diversion Conservation Area program.