Impacts of Arizona’s Wildfires on Wildlife

Hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers and other outdoor recreationists will undoubtedly have questions about what impact the fires will have on wildlife, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities in those areas. The information below will help answer some of your questions.


  • It is important to note that habitats in these areas and their associated wildlife populations evolved with fire, although those fires were typically smaller and more localized.  The forest habitats located within the fire areas are home to a diversity of species.
  • Each of these wildlife species has its own set of survival techniques. Larger, more mobile animals will simply move out of the path of a fire; birds will obviously fly away; and many smaller mammals and reptiles will burrow underground or seek shelter in rock dens.  Research has shown that burrowing even six inches will protect animals from fires reaching up to 3,000 degrees above ground.
  • It’s impossible to determine how many animals will survive the fires and how many have been lost. But records of past fires show that wildlife mortality is substantially lower than one might imagine.
  • As soon as it appropriate and in full cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be using the tools at our disposal to assess the fires’ impacts to wildlife, as well as any immediate actions that can be taken to assist surviving animals.


  • The Game Management Units affected by the Wallow Fire on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are Units 1 and 27. Popular hunts in these units include elk, antelope, deer, turkey and bear.
  • The Game Management Units affected by the Horseshoe Two Fire on the Coronado National Forest are primarily Unit 29 and portions of Unit 30A. Popular hunts in these areas include mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina, and small game.
  • The Game Management Units affected by the Murphy Fire on the Coronado National Forest are Units 36A, 36B and 36C. Popular hunts in these areas include mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina and small game.
  • Many hunters might immediately come to the conclusion that their hunts in the fire areas are now ruined due to the fires, out of the perceptions that there will be reduced numbers of game, limited or no access, that the forest is completely burned, or that the overall hunting experience is compromised. Although some hunts will undoubtedly be affected, they might not necessarily be as severe as perceived. Here is what we found in Game Management Unit 3C in the aftermath of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002:
    • Of the Unit 3C habitat on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests impacted by the fire, 28 percent was determined to be severely burned, 19 percent moderately burned, 26 percent low impact, and 27 percent was unburned.
    • There was no significant reduction in the availability of big game animals in the fall hunts.
    • After the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Game and Fish personnel conducted two aerial surveys and several ground surveys in the unit. There was no evidence of any large migration of elk or deer out of the burn area. With the onset of the monsoon, it is anticipated that a significant portion of Units 1 and 27 will have adequate forage, and that elk will be well distributed prior to the hunts.
  • The elk/antelope draw was held in the spring and permits have been issued. The department has received some questions about whether there is a contingency for refunds on a hunt permit or for a hunter to turn down the permit to retain his or her bonus points. There is currently no provision in state law or commission rule for refunds on a permit, or for a hunter to turn down the permit to retain his or her bonus points. As is stated on page 16 of the 2011-12 Arizona Hunting Regulations booklet:
The issuance of any big game permit has no express or implied guarantee or warranty of hunter success. Any person holding a valid permit assumes the risk that circumstances beyond the control of Arizona Game and Fish may prevent the permit holder from using the permit. In such situations, Arizona Game and Fish disclaims any responsibility to reissue or replace a permit, to reinstate bonus points or to refund any fees.


The department and commission may analyze this situation further once the fires are under control and it is possible to truly assess the fire’s actual impacts.

Hunters who have not yet applied for the fall hunts for deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, buffalo and pheasant will want to consider the different variables if applying for hunts in the affected fire areas. Until the fires are put out, there is no certainty what the conditions will be, but they could range from area closures to near-normal hunting conditions come hunting season.


  • Access to popular fishing waters in the White Mountains, including Big Lake, Carnero Lake, Crescent Lake, the Greer Lakes, Hulsey Lake, Lee Valley Reservoir, Luna Lake, Nelson Reservoir, the Black River, the East and West Forks of the Black River, Sheep’s Crossing, and the Little Colorado River at Greer, will be closed until the Wallow Fire is secured, and the Forest Service clears standing burned trees adjacent to roadways and determines there are minimal public safety concerns. After the fire is contained, the department expects access to Carnero Lake, the Greer Lakes, Luna Lake, and Nelson Reservoir will soon be opened. However, expect these closures to be in effect for the remaining waters for the majority of the summer and into this fall.
  • In the Coronado National Forest (currently closed) in southern Arizona, the following lakes are closed to anglers and boaters:
    • Arivaca Lake off Ruby Road in the Nogales Ranger District,
    • Frye Mesa Reservoir and Riggs Flat Lake in the Pinaleno Mountains west of Safford,
    • Parker Canyon Lake southeast of Sonoita,
    • Pena Blanca Lake in the Pajarito Mountains west of Nogales,
    • Rose Canyon Lake in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
  • Fisheries resources are normally able to survive the immediate conditions of a wildfire, including flames, heat and smoke. However, fish and their habitat are very susceptible to intense flooding, increased erosion, and slurries of ash that can follow a wildfire during significant precipitation events.
  • Ash slurries can be toxic to some fish. The increase in nutrients may lead to late summer algae blooms that may trigger “summer kill” conditions, high pH and low dissolved oxygen.
  • During the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, significant flooding carried ash and debris from Canyon Creek, and Corrizo and Cibeque Creeks on the Reservation, through the upper Salt River and into Roosevelt Lake. Nutrient levels increased in Roosevelt Lake two to three levels of magnitude; however, there were no threats to that fishery. Conditions will be monitored closely, but Roosevelt Lake is not expected to be severely impacted since it is such a large lake.
  • As soon as is safely possible, fisheries personnel will survey each of the waters impacted by the wildfires to assess immediate and potential future impacts to the sport fish and threatened and endangered (T&E) fisheries resources. Some actions in the near future may include retrieval and temporary transfer of T&E populations into refugia ponds.

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife

  • One problem that arises with displaced wildlife, especially larger mammals, is that population densities increase in areas adjacent to the fire. This results in increased competition for available food and water, often sending animals into communities and subdivisions, and into conflict with people.
  • Officials request that people simply do not feed displaced wildlife. There are many more negative consequences than positive when it comes to feeding animals, including potential aggression towards humans, disruption of their natural digestive systems, and artificially “holding” them in a specific area when they would normally seek an area with better habitat conditions.
  • Do not pick up, capture, or attempt to rescue “orphaned” young wildlife. Adult wildlife with young have developed behavioral responses whereby they may hide young in an effort to elude perceived predators, and the wildlife you believe to have been abandoned are often simply awaiting the return of their mother after you leave the area. Young animals that are turned into the department or rehabilitators are often unable to be returned to the wild and may have to be euthanized. It is far better that they are left in the wild unmolested.
  • The department has established a mobile Wildlife Emergency Treatment Center to tend to injured wildlife resulting from the Wallow Fire. The Center is located at the Eagar Rodeo Grounds at 7 S. Highway 180 in Eagar, Ariz. The public may either drop off wildlife at the Eagar Rodeo Grounds or Game and Fish can pick up injured wildlife that are reported through a hotline that has been established. The wildlife emergency hotline number is (623) 236-7242. Please note that the Center cannot accommodate domestic animals or livestock. For more information, click here.

Bald Eagle Update

The Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program contractor at the Luna Lake breeding area has been able to verify that the adults and at least one fledgling eagle survived the Wallow Fire. We still don’t know about the Crescent Lake breeding area, as those nestlings were too young to fly when the fire started.

Status of Mexican Wolf Packs in Wallow Fire Area

Four Mexican wolf packs – the Bluestem, Hawks Nest, Rim and Paradise Packs – occupy territories in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests of eastern Arizona.

In late April and early May, each pack demonstrated denning behavior by localizing their movements to a smaller area. Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project field biologists have conducted ground surveys in the suspected den areas during recent weeks. They found the Bluestem Pack had produced a minimum of three pups, while the Hawks Nest and Paradise Packs each had a minimum of five pups. They have not yet had an opportunity to determine the number of Rim Pack pups.

As of June 13, the Wallow Fire had burned through the den areas of the Bluestem, Hawks Nest and Rim Packs. The burn intensity was of a mixed regime when it went through each of these three den areas. The fire perimeter was still approximately five miles from reaching the Paradise Pack den site.

As part of the wolf project’s monitoring activities, biologists fly weekly telemetry flights throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area located in western New Mexico and eastern Arizona. One or more animals associated with each pack currently wear a radio telemetry collar.

On the June 8 and June 13 flights, the VHF signals received from these collars showed that the collared adults and yearlings were still in the immediate areas of each of the den sites impacted by the wildfire. As a result, biologists are cautiously optimistic that one or more pups from the three dens survived; however, they won’t be able to make a final determination until safe conditions allow them to reenter the fire zone and make visual observations. That likely will be several more days or even weeks in the future.

As of June 13, there have been no documented wolf mortalities associated with the Wallow Fire.

Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area

Many of our constituents have been asking about the status of the Sipe Wildlife Area, which is located in the area affected by the Wallow Fire. On Monday evening, June 6, the fire burned into Sipe from the south. Department personnel had worked all day Monday to soak the buildings and surrounding grounds to deter structure loss. Once the fire hit the grassland flats, it laid down and went around the buildings to the east about 100 yards out. The meadows and mesas to the south, east and north were pretty well hit. None of the main structures were lost; however, the fire did consume the historic Nelson homestead cabin built in the late 1800s on the south end of the property.

Plenty of wildlife rode the Monday evening fire out at Sipe, including elk, pronghorn and numerous birds. On Tuesday morning, there were several ducks on the entrance pond with young-of-the-year. A hummingbird nest with mom and two babies survived the 50-plus mph winds on Monday evening. There were numerous hummingbirds flying and songbirds calling, and a red-tailed hawk was observed trying to catch a rabbit.

Source U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For additional information, navigate to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at this link –



Lake Powell fishing

Utah has a new video on fishing in Lake Powell.

New on Lake Powell Summer 2011! The Floating Visitor Center be on your favorite beach?  Look for the boat and the Park Rangers on special weekends.



In response to the continued and growing threat of the introduction of quagga and zebra mussels at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, effective Nov 1, 2009, self-certification of watercraft will no longer be an option at Wahweap Main and Bullfrog launch ramps and screening for the invasive mussels by trained personnel will be mandatory for all vessels.

The monitoring of boats arriving at Lake Powell will be a collaborative and on-going effort among the partner agencies and restrictions may be modified as the threat of infestation is monitored. Keeping Lake Powell mussel-free is essential to maintaining the economic and ecological vitality of the resource and surrounding communities and region.

Boaters are encouraged to continue to help stop the spread of invasive mussels by making sure their vessels and boating equipment are cleaned, drained, and completely dry before moving to a new body of water, make sure that any boats being moved from infested waters to non-infested waters are properly decontaminated prior to launching. We ask for your assistance in this effort by calling (928) 608-6301 if you see anyone launching outside the designated hours listed above.

You are required to comply with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s zebra mussel prevention program before you may launch your boat on Lake Powell. To remain in compliance with Glen Canyon NRA’s regulations your vessel must be certified mussel free. A mussel free certificate must be displayed visibly in the windshield of your tow vehicle. Recertification is required with each new visit.


Boating, Fishing and other water recreation at Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Lake Pleasant Regional Park
Maricopa County, Arizona
by Lee Allen
(updated May 2011 by

Located in the desert scrub brush country just 30 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix, Lake Pleasant – the core of Lake Pleasant Regional Park – has become the most popular outdoor recreation spot in Arizona. It is often filled to capacity, especially on the weekends, by anglers, boaters, water skiers, swimmers, wind surfers, sailing enthusiasts or those who just want to soak their feet and cool down. It is even visited regularly by outdoor enthusiasts who hit the lake on their way home from 9 to 5 jobs.

The Lake Pleasant Regional Park includes four miles of hiking trails for pedestrian use.   The hikes range in distrance from .5 mile to 2 miles.  Camping facilities include 148 sites for RV and tent camping.  The “developed sites” have water, electricity, dump station and covered ramada, picnic table, BBQ grill and fire ring.  All campsites have restroom and shower facilities available.

Maricopa County Parks offer star gazing for visitors.  They provide the telescope and have regularly scheduled programs at all of their parks, including Lake Pleasant.   For a current schedule of their stargazing program visit the Maricopa County Parks & Recreation website

Lake History

Originally constructed in the mid-1920s as part of a private irrigation project, Lake Pleasant was created by the Waddell Dam, a 250-foot long structure which impounded water from the Agua Fria River system. The lake itself was named after Carl Pleasant, the engineer who designed the dam. Its waters were supplied primarily by the river and by Coles Creek, Castle Creek, Humbug Creek and other drainages. The lake covered something over 3,000 surface acres before the new, and much larger, Waddell Dam was finished in November, 1992. The new dam effectively tripled the size of Lake Pleasant, making it the second-largest body of water (behind Lake Roosevelt) in central Arizona. It now impounds the water, not only from the river system, but also that conveyed across the state from Lake Havasu by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal. It has become critically important for both recreation and irrigation.

Lake Zones and the Rising and Falling Waterline

Lake Pleasant comprises three zones of water. Near the dam and marina, where the mouth of the CAP canal is located, the water is extremely clear and highly-oxygenated. At mid-lake, near the original, now submerged, Waddell Dam, the water, with many islands, reefs and coves, is clear and deep (up to 100 feet or more when the lake is full). In the upstream channels and drainages, the water, which covers a forest of submerged vegetation, is shallow, turbid and nutrient-rich. The lake’s waterline falls and rises dramatically as the lake is drawn down when downstream irrigation needs peak and as it is replenished when the irrigation requirements subside.

Fishing Opportunities

As the new Lake Pleasant rose, coves, originally only 100 yards or so in length, reached into the mountains for a mile or more. Fishermen who once had to search for structures are now overwhelmed with highly promising submerged brush and timber, vegetation that provides cover and nutrients for the lake’s food chain. Upstream drainages, including Castle Creek, Humbug Creek and Cole’s Wash as well as Jackass and Honeymoon coves on the east side of the lake have become anglers’ favorite fishing sites.

The fish, which include some 12 species, ranging from Florida-strain largemouth bass to crappie, have proliferated and grown. The lake, with the only significant white bass population in Arizona, has not only produced state records for the species. It has raised speculation that it could even yield a new world record. The white bass story began in the early 1960s, before the lake expansion, when the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocked Lake Pleasant with the species to provide extra fishing fun for state anglers. None of the stockers showed up on stringers for several years.

The experiment was about to be deemed a failure, then reports of catches of “funny-looking crappie” suddenly began to surface. White bass! Now, in places like Humbug Creek, the water often turns frothy, churned by white bass chasing silver threadfin shad. Lake Pleasant has also produced record white crappie and trophy largemouth bass. The Arizona Game and Fish Department consider the bluegill fishing the best in the state.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission began to stock fish in Lake Pleasant Regional Park after the building of the main dam and completion of the diversion dam. To date, Lake Pleasant is home to 12 species of fish:

  • White Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Large Mouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • White Crappie
  • Black Crappie
  • Bigmouth Buffalo Fish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Green Sunfish
  • Redear Sunfish
  • Tilapia

Every year, Lake Pleasant Regional Park hosts several fishing tournaments. A fishing license is required and may be obtained at most sporting goods stores or through the Arizona Game and Fish department.


The Striper Dilemma

When water from the CAP arrived, it not only helped raise Lake Pleasant, it introduced new arrivals—tilapia, flathead catfish and striped bass. The stripers, an introduced salt water species, get pumped into the lake as eggs or fry, according to Game and Fish spokesmen. “With stripers in the lake, it’s going to cause an obvious change,” said one fisheries biologist. “They’re here and they’re getting bigger.”

The interlopers worry avid largemouth bass anglers, who know that the stripers compete aggressively with their favorite sports fish for bait. “Bass clubs are concerned because we don’t want to happen here what happened 10 years ago at Lake Powell,” where stripers crowded out game fish and depleted the bait fish, said Troy Bell of the Arizona Bass Club. Previously, he says, “It was nothing to catch 5- and 6-pound largemouth bass every time you came here. Now you get one every once in a while. Numbers are going down, and the [largemouth bass] are becoming smaller.” Fortunately, stripers are themselves excellent game fish.

Fish and the Lake Environment

Surprisingly, the rise and fall of the lake’s waterline enhances rather than hurts the aquatic environment for the fish. In the autumn, when CAP water is delivered to Lake Pleasant, raising water levels, seasonal vegetation gets flooded, enriching the lake’s nutrient levels. In the spring, levels are held steady to foster the bass spawn. By late spring, levels fall as the downstream demand for water increases. The lower lake levels allow exposed shoreline grasses, plants and bushes to re-seed and produce new forage and cover. The cycle is then repeated. What this means, however, is that anglers’ “honey holes” often change by the day, making Lake Pleasant a major challenge for anyone trying to load up a stringer. Islands appear and disappear with the falling and rising water. Currents change. The fish move swiftly in their search for food sources.

Pleasant Harbor Marina and Convenience Store

Visitors will find an array of facilities and services at Lake Pleasant. The Pleasant Harbor Marina and Pleasant Harbor Convenience Store, for instance, provide wet slips, dry storage, fuel and stores and supplies. The Arizona Ducks that offers rides in a WWII amphibious landing craft that has been modified for tours. Cruise the desert on land and then shoot right down the ramp into the water making a huge splash! The whole trip is about an hour and a half.

To reach Pleasant Harbor Marina, take Interstate 17 north to Exit 223 (Carefree Highway). Turn west and proceed for approximately 11 miles to Pleasant Harbor Drive. For additional information, contact:

More Information

The Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers the following information:
Lake Pleasant is located 15 miles west of I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) on Carefree Highway (State Route 74) 30 miles north of Phoenix, within the city limits of Peoria. The park’s 23,662 acres offer an ideal destination for boating and camping enthusiasts. With 10,000 acres of crystal clear water, visitors can enjoy water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, or fishing. Lake Pleasant offers over 140 developed sites for RV and tent camping.

Main Park Entrance

The main entrance to Lake Pleasant is located two miles north of State Route 74 off Castle Hot Springs Road. The entrance provides access to the visitor center, a 10-lane boat ramp, staff headquarters, and the Desert Tortoise and Roadrunner campgrounds. Park entrance fee is $5.00 per vehicle and $2.00 per watercraft.

North Entrance

The second entrance into Lake Pleasant is located three miles past the main park entrance on Castle Hot Springs Road. This entrance provides access to the four-lane boat ramp, two restroom facilities, shoreline camping, and the Cottonwood day-use picnic area. Park entrance fee is also $5.00 per vehicle and $2.00 per watercraft at this entrance.

Visitors Center

The visitors center provide information where park visitors can learn about the Central Arizona Project, Waddell Dam and Lake Pleasant. Books, pamphlets, and a variety of gifts are available for purchase inside the visitors center. Step out onto the balcony surrounding the visitors center and you get a beautiful view of Lake Pleasant and an close-up view of the Waddell Dam. Admission to the visitor center is included in the park entrance fee.
Maps of lake and campgrounds.

Day Use
$6 per vehicle
$2 per non-motorized watercraft
$4 per motorized watercraft
$5 per motorcycle


General Park Hours
Sun-Thu: 6am-8pm
Fri-Sat: 6am-10pm
– 365 days a year

Headquarters Admin Hours
Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm
except holidays

For further information, contact:

Lake Pleasant Regional Park
41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd.
Morristown, AZ 85342
Contact Station 1-928-501-1710
Operations Center 602-372-7460

Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Dept.
Headquarters Administrative Offices
234 N. Central Ave, Suite 6400
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Ph: 602-506-2930 Fax: 602-506-4692


Ocean Salmon Fishing Season to Open April 2

For recreational fishing enthusiasts, springtime is in the air — and this year, in the water as well. Saturday, April 2 is opening day for salmon fishing in ocean waters off most of California and for the first time in many years the forecast suggests anglers may have many a tight line to look forward to.

Both the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approved the April 2 opening date based on scientific information suggesting that the Sacramento River Fall Chinook ocean population size is more than 700,000 fish — almost triple last year’s forecast.
[Read more…]


Lake Cahuilla: Camping, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Fishing & Pool For Swimming

Lake Cahuilla County Park
58-075 Jefferson Street, La Quinta CA 92253 | Phone: (760) 564-4712

If you enjoy hiking, fishing, trail riding horses or exploring new areas, Lake Cahuilla is worth a visit.  There are numerous hiking and riding trails that lead to and from Lake Cahuilla.  One trail called the Cove To Lake Trail connects Cove Oasis  (La Quinta Cove) to Lake Cahuilla.  The trailhead for this route starts at Lake Cahuilla, but you start your hike on either side.

Their equestrian camping sites make it easy for horseback riders to trailer their horses in to stay the night or for a few days to ride the desert trails.  The Lake is stocked with trout and fishing is a favorite pastime at this location.  While they don’t allow swimming in the Lake they do offer a pool that is open to the public for a small entrance fee. The park is also dog-friendly if your pet is on a leash.

Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA

Location & Camping

Lake Cahuilla is located 4 mi. SE of La Quinta. Take Interstate 10 to Monroe St., Monroe S to Ave. 58, Ave. 58 W two miles to park. 56 sites available, 46 with water & electric, 10 with water only. 710 acre developed park has individual campsites, with electricity and water. Individual camping is available on a first come, first serve basis or by reservation. A primitive group camping area is also available by reservation.Other amenities include shore fishing in the 135-acre stocked lake, centrally located showers, a dump station, equestrian and hiking trails and picnicking.

Lake Cahuilla has picnic areas, large grassy lawns and is dog-friendly (dogs must be on a leash).

Equestrian Camping

Lake Cahuilla also offers a 20-site equestrian camping area available for group camping, of which 12 sites are available for individual camping with water and electricity. The equestrian group camping area features shade shelters with tables, group fire ring, restroom and shower facilities, pipe corrals, hitching post, water trough, and miles of mountain trails nearby.

The pool was empty when I visited in Jan. 2011.

The Pool

The swimming pool is open for the public from mid April to mid October, Saturday and Sunday only. Cost is $2.00 per session. Session Schedule: Session 1 (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.), Session 2 (1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.), Session 3 (4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.) During special events or adversity of the weather this schedule is subject to change without notice. Please call the park in advance to check for schedule.



Lake Cahuilla County Park
58-075 Jefferson Street, La Quinta CA 92253 | Phone: (760) 564-4712