Lower Bear Canyon Wash



Cephalanthus occidentalis


Datura wrightii


Echinocereus fasciculatus


Haplophyton crooksii



Coordinating Botanist:  Marisa Rice


Status:  In Progress


Started:  2013


Taxa List





Bear Canyon Wash is a tributary to Sabino Creek in Tucson Arizona.  The headwaters begin in the Santa Catalina Mountains located north of Tucson, and flow to the southwest, where the wash joins Sabino Creek, just south of the Coronado National Forest (CNF) boundary.  The project area lies between the confluence with Sabino Creek and the CNF boundary and is a conglomeration of four parcels totaling 196 acres.  The area is comprised of two main biotic communities:  Sonoran Desertscrub and Sonoran Riparian Deciduous Forest and Woodland, with elevations ranging from 2,638 to 2,908 feet. A diverse array of riparian vegetation is supported by shallow groundwater forced to the surface by bedrock, while adjoining upland areas support a rich diversity of succulents and native perennials and annuals. 


The property is owned and managed by Pima County for conservation purposes.  Recent conservation efforts include a partnership with Sky Island Alliance (SIA) to restore native vegetation to the floodplain by removing non-native plant species and planting native pollinator plants. 


The project area can be publicly accessed through the CNF Sabino Canyon Recreation Area or via Bear Canyon Road, where a small dirt parking lot provides access to the Pima County Bear Canyon trailhead. A tenant currently inhabits the house located on the northern parcel, therefore public access without Pima County permission is limited to the wash and uninhabited upland areas.  Private land lies between the northern and southern parcels, therefore access within the wash between these parcels is restricted.  Due to its proximity to a large urban area, private property owners are sensitive to trespass and most private properties are signed “no trespassing.”


Prior to beginning the PAPAZ project, a very limited working checklist containing 64 species of vascular plants existed.  A number of species found on this list have been collected with a total of 100 species of vascular plants documented with voucher collections so far. Initial fieldwork targeted riparian areas, with focus turning to upland areas beginning in Spring 2014.