Agua Fria National Monument's Rich Record of Human History and Biological Diversity
Agua Fria National Monument - Photo by Bob Wick, BLM
The 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument is one of the most significant natural and cultural landscapes in the American Southwest. It contains more than 400 recorded archaeological sites spanning some 2,000 years of human history, including remains left by the Perry Mesa Tradition dating to 1250 A.D. - 1450 A.D. Remnants of stone pueblos, some containing more than 100 rooms, represent a system of communities with broad economic and social ties.

In addition to its rich record of human history, the Monument’s expansive mosaic of semi-desert grassland cut by deep canyons with ribbons of valuable riparian forest provides an outstanding biological resource. Located only 40 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona, Agua Fria (meaning “cold water’) was designated a National Monument in 2000 and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Agua Fria National Monument was the subject of several presentations during A Decade of Discovery, the science symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science May 24 – 28, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 


Arizona State University presented the Legacies on the Landscape Project, in Impacts of Prehistoric Land Use Intensity on Ecological Legacies in the Arid US Southwest. This is an ongoing, interdisciplinary effort of the School of Life Sciences and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Ecologists and archaeologists are investigating the effects of the natural environment on prehistoric human populations and the long-term effects of prehistoric settlement activities on the modern environment. One area of interest is prehistoric farming’s impact on soil nutrients and vegetation in the desert grasslands of Agua Fria National Monument. 
 
The Long Gulch Mesa Archaeological Inventory Project: New Research on the Agua Fria National Monument highlighted the recent archaeological survey work of the lesser-known Long Gulch Mesa, north of the more well-known Perry Mesa. 
 
The Perry Mesa was featured in Persistent Connectivity Across Central Arizona During the 14th Century: Evaluating the Verde Confederacy Model with Ceramics from Perry Mesa. Researchers from Arizona State University evaluate models for population movement in the 14th century with ceramic exchange data. 
 
A poster session presented Water Science on the Agua Fria National Monument, a project by Friends of the Agua Fria and other organizations to assess the Monument’s water resources through wet-dry mapping and rapid riparian assessments. The University of Arizona, Arizona Audubon, and the Arizona Riparian Council train the volunteers who do the fieldwork. 

The Monument has hosted additional scientific research projects involving a number of partner organizations and universities. The BLM encourages scientific research and promotes innovative approaches to collaboration. Recent partners, in addition to those highlighted above, include the Arizona Antelope Foundation, Arizona Archaeological Society, Desert Botanical Garden, Deer Valley Rock Art Center, Museum of Northern Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

To learn more about Agua Fria National Monument, please click here.

To read more features and learn more about A Decade of Discovery Science Symposium, please click here.


Agua Fria National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Rock Art at Agua Fria National Monument