Featured Story – The Santa Cruz Watershed Management Plan

“Providing anglers plentiful fishing opportunities while leading efforts to recover and protect rare aquatic species in southern Arizona’s Santa Cruz Watershed.”

In 2009, state fisheries managers embraced the agency’s mission by adopting a planning approach that shifted away from a single species focus, and instead looked towards managing interactions between sportfish and native aquatic species. In February of 2015, an inter-agency team of Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Pima County, and Sonoran Institute biologists embarked on developing a plan for the Santa Cruz River Watershed following the decision making process determined by the Statewide Fisheries Management Team. Over the next 2 years, the team worked tirelessly gathering data and collaborating with species experts and resource managers.

Completed in June 2017, the Santa Cruz Plan is publicly available online as an interactive web application. We invite you to explore our plan, and discover the amazing beauty and diversity of the Santa Cruz Watershed.

The Santa Cruz River watershed provides important habitat and resources for numerous native aquatic species, while also providing abundant opportunities for sport fishing and recreation. Due to the isolated locations and lack of connectivity within the watershed where native species occur, there is very little overlap between native and sportfish species management. Within the Santa Cruz River watershed, 99% of stream miles were identified for native aquatic species and 99% of lake and pond surface acres were identified for sport fish recreation.

Link to the Santa Cruz Watershed Management Plan:


Link to the Department’s watershed management plans:


Gila Topminnow in Arivaca Creek.


Sabino Creek, managed for native aquatic species including Roundtail Chub and Gila Topminnow.