Fossil Creek (courtesy D. Green )

Despite the small percentage of the landscape that riparian areas of Arizona occupy, they are a very important resource because of their many land uses. Riparian areas in Arizona can be in alpine communities on the highest mountains, to Chihuahuan Desert - Desert Grassland communities in valleys of the San Pedro River. This makes it very difficult to properly characterize and understand what and where riparian areas are.


To be able to meet the current and future uses for riparian areas it is necessary to manage them sustainably. It is essential to understand and characterize what riparian areas are, the processes that take place in riparian areas and how human activities have and can impact this valuable resource. The module will provide general information on these topics for riparian areas of Arizona.


The module is divided into 7 sub-modules. Each sub-module will be presented with successive steps, introducing academic and practical information. The information will be in the form of text, photographs, and exercises. The topics of each sub-model are:


  1. Defining Arizona’s Riparian Areas and their Importance to the Landscape
  2. Characterization of Riparian Areas
  3. Hydrologic Processes in Riparian Areas
  4. Fluvial Processes in Riparian Areas
  5. Biological Processes in Riparian Areas – Habitat
  6. Arizona Climate and Riparian Areas
  7. Human Alterations to Riparian Areas
Without defining and agreeing on what riparian areas are we cannot move on to manage this valuable natural resources sustainably.  Riparian areas are an important and unique resource.