“A bit of everything for wildlife & people”
With its majestic rock cliffs; its ribbon of cool water running through classic Sonoran Desert; and its cattail-filled marsh harboring rails and waterfowl, Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge offers a little bit of everything for both wildlife and people. A century ago, cottonwood forest was widespread along the Colorado River. In their journals, western explorers such as General John C. Fremont noted miles-thick stands of cottonwood and willow along the banks. They also mentioned the presence of abundant mesquite on the higher reaches. In 1935, the 726-foot Hoover Dam was built on the Arizona-Nevada border, followed by twenty smaller dams over the following decades. As the water backed up into a series of lakes, many of the riparian forests along the Colorado River were drowned. The construction of Alamo Dam on the Bill Williams River in 1968 changed the old flood cycle, which reduced stands of native cottonwood and willow trees. Fortunately, Bill Williams River NWR holds one of the last stands of natural cottonwood-willow forest along the lower Colorado River, creating a unique ecosystem that provides good habitat for resident and migratory wildlife.
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Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge
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