The Verde River
Up until the 1890s the river was in places over a mile wide, creating a series of marshes and sloughs providing habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals, including parrots. A severe flood event in 1893 resulted in the incising of the river into its present channel.
While water quality in the river is generally good, past mining operations have had a negative effect. High levels of sodium, turbidity, boron, mercury, iron, ammonium, and selenium are often recorded. Dedicated volunteers, trained in water quality monitoring, document the condition of the water on a regular basis.
Today, the primary use of this surface water is for agricultural irrigation. Many ditches channel the flow for the growing of crops in the communities of Cottonwood and Camp Verde. Between these two towns, the river flows through mostly private land. South of Camp Verde, the land is managed by the Prescott, Coconino, and Tonto National Forests. The river hosts native populations of suckers and non-native fish such as carp, catfish, and bass. Southern bald eagles find adquate nest sites in the craggy cliffs bordering the river and can often be seen during the winter and spring as they search for food along the river corridor. The river is stocked with trout by the Arizona Department of Fish and Game in the winter. River otters, reintroduced in the 1980s, can be seen occasionally.
The first known record of private ownership of the marsh occurred in 1890, when an area including the marsh was deeded to a local rancher who raised beef cattle for Jerome and other local markets.
Between 2010-2013, the U.S. Geological Survey and NPS conducted a three-year partner project evaluating potential contaminants in the marsh in anticipation of a proposed large-scale marsh restoration project. Preliminary data from these site investigation activities indicate that contaminant levels for copper, arsenic, and barium in sediment soil cores exceed ecological and human health screening levels. Other contaminants above background levels include cadmium, nickel, lead, and zinc. Contaminants were also found in marsh vegetation such as cattails. Based upon these data, NPS has determined that further site investigation activities are warranted.
The USGS and Tuzigoot National Monument continue their partnership. In 2014 a report was released that assesses the mineral elements within Tavasci Marsh. The next step will be to further investigate the Marsh to determine the nature and extent of contamination and to assess risk to human and ecological receptors.
Last updated: April 13, 2021