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Wetlands Bring Life to the SRPMIC

Baltazar Solis (right) and Sarahna Cooper walk on the bridges that were placed to collect trash from the river.

The Environmental Protection and Natural Resources program under the Community Development Department (CDD) is always hard at work to preserve and increase the quality of life around the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. One of the main areas that EPNR focuses on is the wetlands. The wetlands have a purpose: to filter out sediment from the river. Too much sediment means there is not enough oxygen in the water for plants and animals, and the water impossible to drink. The wetlands help the water get back to normal.

“That is the point of the wetlands; otherwise, the agricultural water from the agricultural field is just going to go into the river,” said Senior Environmental Specialist Sarahna Cooper. In addition to catching sediment, wetlands clean out some of the trash, also known as N.P.S. (non-point source) pollution. A whole bag of trash a week or more is collected and taken out of the wetlands area.

“Why not build something like this through the natural system of what the environment already does; it’ll clean it out. All the trash you saw in there would’ve been in the river, but this (wetlands) is able to catch it.”

The environmental specialists are always looking for new ways to increase Community members’ enjoyment of the area. Gourds with solar-powered lights inside were hung on a tree. Painted rocks were placed along the paths. They are currently working on building butterfly areas at both the Salt River and Lehi wetland locations. Mesquite wood, salt cedar wood, cattail, arrowweed and willow are available for Community members to harvest when they are in season in the wetlands.

The EPNR department is constantly working to improve the land in Salt River. The wetlands are just one example of the hard work they do on a daily basis.