Passage 16 – Gila River Canyons

February 11-12, 2017

Volunteers from Tucson, Nutrioso, San Tan Valley and Albuquerque, NM met near the historic town of Cochran on the south side of the Gila River. The goals were to monitor the AZT for Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) and remove every living plant from the trail corridor, in addition to conducting minor trail maintenance along the way. After a safety briefing and tool distribution, volunteers crossed the Gila River and hiked east on the AZT for 3 miles. Upon reaching mile 278.1 of the AZT, volunteers began hiking west and brushing the corridor to equestrian standards (6 ft. wide by 10 ft. high). Loppers and hand saws were used to remove catclaw acacia, palo verde, mesquite, crucifixion thorn and other vegetation encroaching on the trail corridor. Some cholla were also removed using a pick-mattock.
One small patch of Sahara mustard was documented and removed at mile 280.5. Since flowers were evident, plants were bagged and hauled out.

The next morning, volunteers crossed the Gila River and at the “Cochran Corner” – where the AZT heads north up Rincon Road for a short segment – discovered a large patch of Brassica at mile 281.3. The invasive plants were growing in the shade of mesquite trees in soft, silty soils and occupied a 7-meter-square patch of ground. All living Brassica plants were removed, and scattered in the arroyo nearby to dry and die before flowing/seeding. No flowers were evident on any of the plants.

Volunteers hiked 1.2 miles east on the AZT and brushed the corridor back to Cochran Corner. Minor tread work was also conducted at two locations, including widening the bench and armoring a wash crossing. This will help with overall sustainability of the trail and will improve safety for equestrians and mountain bikers.

  • Miles Maintained: 2.3
  • Miles Monitored for Brassica: 3
  • % of Brassica removed from trail corridor: 100