BLM announces road improvements in Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Bill Brandau: This picture shows the Gila River at the overlook entrance of the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. The BLM’s infrastructure project expects to improve public access.

Infrastructure project will improve public access

Contributed Article/Courtesy BLM

SAFFORD – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Safford Field Office is planning a road improvement project that will improve public access within the approximately 23,000-acre BLM managed Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA) and surrounding areas. The NCA is popular for a myriad of recreational activities, is known for its four perennial waterways and towering cliffs, and is a major source of water for the Safford community. The work will begin as early as Aug. 20 and continue into September. The work will improve a low water crossing that has a history of flooding and erosion after monsoon rains by replacing the existing dirt and gravel with a concrete low water crossing.

“Erosion caused by flooding at the crossing during heavy rain events has been a long-standing issue,” said Safford Field Manager Scott Cooke. “Once complete, the work will prevent future erosion so that visitors can more easily access the NCA and City of Safford employees can access water facilities in need of repair following monsoon events.”

The project includes the installation of a 20-foot wide, 160-180 foot long cement low water crossing.

During the upcoming work, public access will be re-routed to a by-pass route around the problem area. Signage will be posted a couple of miles ahead of the work area and a certified traffic control supervisor will be on-site to maintain visitor safety. Visitors should expect the possibility of short delays.

The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area was designated by Congress through the 1990 Arizona Desert Wilderness Act to conserve, protect, and enhance the riparian and associated areas. The designation also includes conservation of aquatic, wildlife, archeological, paleontological, scientific, cultural, recreational, educational, scenic, and other resources and values.