The Observer
Springerville, Arizona – Thursday, April 29, 1999 – Page A9



Water quality improvements benefit Nutrioso Creek area

By Jerry Macy



The Observer

NUTRIOSO — The Natural Resources Conservation Service of the Springerville Field Office, held a field trip to showcase riparian and range land improve-merits around private land bordering Nutrioso Creek on April 20. Riparian area is the creek bed and the immediately adjacent land.

These improvements are located on Jim Crosswhite’s EC Bar Ranch, which prior to his ownership, had been negatively impacted by unwise land use practices.

Nutrioso Creek has been identified by The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality as having a turbidity problem, probably caused by domestic livestock grazing. Turbidity is defined as muddy or cloudy from having sediment stirred up. The improvements were put into place to help alleviate the turbidity and restore the creek’s overall health.

On the tour, Brian Sorensen, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, pointed out grade stabilization structures, fencing along the creek, and evidence of beavers that have just recently taken up residence in the immediate area.

The name, Nutrioso, was originally given to the area by early Spanish speaking settlers. It was derived from the Spanish words "nutria" and "oso" which mean beaver and bear.

It was noted that Nutrioso Creek was quite clear in many areas with deep pools. The streamside growth of alders and willows appeared to be on the upswing as well. In the streambed itself there was ample growths of watercress. In one pool, some small fish were observed. These fish were possibly the endangered Little Colorado Spinedace.

Crosswhite plans further improvements to the adjacent range land including removing rabbitbrush, drilling a well, and the planting of a high yield hybrid Bermuda grass.

The combined effects of all these improvements should raise the water table, reduce stream turbidity and erosion, and enhance the habitat for livestock and wildlife.