A Living River – The Santa Cruz River from Mexico to Marana
The Santa Cruz River has long been the backbone of the region’s natural and cultural heritage. Although the river has changed since humans first arrived in the region 12,000 years ago, the river still exists and is a “living” entity that continues to support wildlife and communities along its course. Throughout Arizona, the release of effluent maintains flows of many river reaches. The Santa Cruz River is fortunate to have three stretches with effluent flows—one near Nogales in Santa Cruz County and two near Tucson in Pima County. Annual Living River reports communicate conditions in these stretches of the Santa Cruz River by presenting data on indicators of river health with easy-to-follow text and engaging graphics. This long-term monitoring program and communication tool is a key element of Sonoran Institute’s Santa Cruz River Program and makes use of diverse data sets collected by multiple agencies, serving as an important baseline of scientific information for river management decisions while also providing community members with approachable information about their local river.
Luke Cole is the director of the Santa Cruz River Program at Sonoran Institute. Luke joined Sonoran Institute in 2018 and manages the ongoing projects on the Santa Cruz River, working with staff and collaborators to restore and enhance this Living River in the heart of southern Arizona and northern Sonora.
Madeleine Oliver is a member of the Santa Cruz River Program at Sonoran Institute and joined the team in April 2021. She is also working on a master’s degree in Water, Society, and Policy at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, with a specific interest in water for the environment and rivers.
Claire Zugmeyer is the Ecologist and lead program manager for the Sonoran Institute’s Santa Cruz River Program. A UA alumna, she received her master’s degree at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. She has been studying conditions along the Santa Cruz River since 2007.