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Arizona State Office
Release Date: 04/30/13
Contacts: Sarah Porter, Audubon Arizona, 602-828-0866    
  Diane Drobka, Bureau of Land Management, 928-348-4403    
  Jennie Duberstein, Sonoran Joint Venture, 520-882-0837    

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area Reaffirmed as a
Globally Important Bird Area

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in southeastern Arizona has long been known as a premier birding location.  This Saturday, May 4, that status will be highlighted during the 8th annual International Migratory Bird Day celebration at the San Pedro House east of Sierra Vista. 

Arizona Audubon, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Sonoran Joint Venture, and Arizona Game and Fish Department will join together to re-dedicate the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA) as a Globally Important Bird Area. This 57,000-acre NCA, with 40 miles of the San Pedro River as its heart, supports nearly 400 migrant and nesting avian species.  

“This is a place of hemispheric importance given the hundreds of species of migrating birds that rely on it,” said Sarah Porter, executive director of Audubon Arizona. “Protecting the San Pedro and other priority riparian habitats for migrating birds reliant on key western rivers in the Intermountain West is a primary focus for Audubon and its new multi-state Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN) now being established to protect these places.”

Many partners joined Audubon and the BLM to gather data needed to reaffirm the NCA’s importance. Volunteers from Huachuca Audubon, Tucson Audubon, Friends of the San Pedro River, Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, San Pedro Avian Resources Center, and other organizations and individuals documented key species and populations that earned the NCA this distinction. 

The birds that qualified the site as globally important are Arizona Bell’s Vireo, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Gray Hawk, Lucy’s Warbler, and Abert’s Towhee, plus the diversity and numbers of neotropical migrants, primarily warblers. This riparian corridor of cottonwoods, willows and other native species provides a critical migration corridor between countries in Central and South America and sites in the northern U.S. and Canada.

“The BLM is committed to ensuring that the avian habitats supported by the San Pedro River continue to flourish,” said Kathy Pedrick, BLM Acting Gila District Manager. “We and our partners know that we must conserve, protect and enhance this special place for future generations.”

The San Pedro was originally recognized by the American Bird Conservancy in 1996 as the first Globally Important Bird Area in North America. In 2000, Audubon was designated by BirdLife International as its new U.S. IBA partner and is now the lead on this program. Audubon has reconfirmed the San Pedro’s global status.

The re-dedication will take place at 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend and spend the whole day at the International Migratory Bird Day celebration on May 4. Learn more in the IMBD flyer or call 520-508-4445. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

Last updated: 04-30-2013