Gila River LSMR-04 - History

Gila River

A river in southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona that empties into the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona.

(LSMR~04: dp. 790; 1. 206'3"; b. 34'6"; dr. 7'2", s. 13 k.; cpl. 138; a. 1 5", 4 40mm., 8 20mm., 4 4.2" m., 10 rkt.; cl. LSMR-401 )

LSMR 504 was laid down 24 March 1945 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas; launched 21 April 1945 and commissioned 11 June 1945, Lt. Leslie W. Bolon in command.

Departing Houston 18 June, LSMR-504 steamed via Galveston to Charleston, S.C., where she arrived 28 June. She proceeded to Little Creek, VA., 16 July and operated in Chesapeake Bay and along the Virginia coast until sailing for the West Coast 7 August. She reached San Diego 29 August, was assigned to LSMR Squadron 3, and operated along the coast of southern California during the next 6 months. She joined the 19th Fleet 4 March 1946 and between 18 and 22 March steamed to Astoria, Oreg., for duty with the Columbia River Group. She decommissioned 11 May 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet in the Columbia River. LSMR-504 was named Gila River 1 October 1955. On 1 February 1960 she was struck from the Navy List and on 7 July sold to the Zidell Exploration Corp., Portland, Oreg.

Everything You Need to Know About the Mexico-United States Border

The border between the United States and Mexico stretches for nearly 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and touches the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The Rio Grande runs along 1,254 miles of the border, but west of El Paso, Texas, the boundary lacks a natural geographic barrier except for a small stretch along the Colorado River.

Approximately 700 miles of barbed wire, chain link, post-and-rail and wire mesh fencing has been erected along the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. Border Patrol also utilizes thousands of cameras and underground sensors as well as aircraft, drones and boats to monitor the boundary.

After winning its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico stretched as far north as the Oregon Territory. The secession of Texas in 1836, however, marked the beginning of the loss of Mexican territory that would become the present-day U.S. Southwest.

The War with Mexico
U.S. President James K. Polk captured the White House in 1844 on a pledge to fulfill America’s “Manifest Destiny” to stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Relations with Mexico deteriorated after the United States annexed Texas in 1845. When Mexico refused an American offer to purchase California and New Mexico for $30 million, Polk dispatched 4,000 troops into land north of the Rio Grande and south of the Nueces River claimed by both countries.

Following a Mexican cavalry attack in the disputed territory on April 25, 1846, that left 16 American soldiers dead or wounded, the United States declared war on Mexico. After a series of bloody battles and sieges, American forces captured the Mexican capital in September 1847.

Under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico formally recognized the American annexation of Texas and agreed to sell more than one-third of its territory. For $15 million and the assumption of certain damage claims, the United States purchased more than a half million square miles that would encompass all or most of the future states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah as well as portions of present-day Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Map of Mexico with the new boundaries established by the Treaty of Guadalupe, 1848. (Credit: Dea G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images)

The Establishment of the U.S.-Mexico Border
The modern border took shape following the Mexican-American War. While the Rio Grande formed the dividing line between Texas and Mexico, the border originally moved west from El Paso on a straight line to the Gila River and then on another straight line to the Pacific Ocean south of San Diego. Following the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, the borders of Arizona and New Mexico moved further south from the Gila River.

A team of surveyors, soldiers and officials from both countries staked out the border from El Paso to Tijuana. According to Rachel St. John, an associate professor of history at UC Davis and author of Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, the joint boundary commission underestimated the cost and time it would take to complete the project through such an inhospitable terrain of mountains, canyons and desert. Not until the late 1850s did the boundary commission complete its work.

VIDEO: Battle of Palo Alto America was ready to expand westward, even if it meant going to war. Learn how and why the Mexican-American War happened.

U.S. Immigration Policy
There were no federal limits on immigration in the decades following the Mexican-American War as citizens from both countries passed freely across the border. It was Chinese immigrants, not Mexicans, that American authorities and vigilante groups first sought to keep from illegally crossing its southern border after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. “One of the ways that immigrants from China would try to get across the border is to learn a few words of Spanish and disguise themselves as Mexican,” St. John says.

“Restrictions on the movement of Mexican citizens were not particularly enforced by the U.S. government until the decade of the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s when large numbers of refugees came to escape the war and there was a large demand for Mexican labor,” St. John says. Following Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa’s deadly raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916 and the subsequent publication of the Zimmerman Telegram proposing a World War I military alliance between Mexico and Germany, the United States tightened border security and deployed soldiers to patrol the boundary along with the Texas Rangers and government-sanctioned “home guards.”

According to St. John, the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry erected the first fence along the frontier in 1909 to stop the trans-border movement of cattle. Border towns erected fences during the 1910s, but less as a physical barrier to entry than to denote the boundary line and channel people into designated crossing points. The United States began the installation of border fences to restrict the movement of unlawful immigrants and drugs in 1993 when President Bill Clinton mandated the construction of a 14-mile barrier between San Diego and Tijuana. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorized the construction of 700 miles of border fencing and vehicle barriers, which was completed in 2011.

A sign is posted near the US and Mexico border warning drivers of immigrants crossing the freeway in San Ysidro, CA in 2006, just before the signing of the Secure Fence Act. (Credit: Hector Mata/AFP/Getty Images)

Future Plans for the Border
Approximately 11.6 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States in 2016, about half of them in the country illegally, according to Pew Research Center estimates. The centerpiece of President Donald Trump’s immigration plan is the construction of an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall,” but the project faces funding, environmental and eminent domain obstacles.

While Trump asserts the construction of a new 1,000 miles of wall as high as 55 feet tall through remote, mountainous terrain can be built for $18 billion, an analysis published in MIT Technology Review estimates the cost to be $40 billion. The Mexican government stated that it would not pay for the wall’s construction, as Trump repeatedly pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Congress contributed only $1.6 billion to the project in March 2018.

Chasing History on the Gila River to the Coke Ovens

I love to add fun destinations to my adventures. Hiking to petroglyphs, riding to ruins, or driving to a ghost town adds to each adventure. For this trip, I wanted to visit some of the mining history found out east of the Metro Phoenix area.

In 1905, a post office was opened in the little mining camp of Cochran Arizona, on the banks of the Gila River. Cochran was also a stop on the Santa Fe, Prescott, and Phoenix railways. At the time, the Gila River flowed from its starting point in New Mexico, 649 miles to the Colorado River in Yuma, AZ, making it one of the longest rivers in the U.S. There was enough water flowing down the Gila that large riverboats could travel from Yuma up to Phoenix.

On the opposite side of the river from where Cochran once stood, are the last remnants of the era, The Coke Ovens. Coke is not a drug, but rather a charcoal product made from mesquite wood, and was a hotter burning fuel used to smelter gold and silver ore from the mines in the surrounding area. The Coke Ovens are in a very remote area and are on private property. Unfortunately, due to vandalism, access has been restricted, but you can view them from a distance.

We used Florence, Arizona as our jumping-off point. Florence was founded in 1866 and has its own Wild West history.

We went for an enjoyable day trip from Florence to Cochran, and then on to Asarco Mine (currently operating) near Kearny, via the numerous desert roads and trails. Near Kearny, we stopped next to Mineral Creek for some lunch. For the return trip to Florence, we took the Florence-Kelvin Highway (mostly a maintained dirt road).

The north and south sides of the Gila River have a lot of history that you can explore on your bike, quad, or UTV. In this rugged and remote area of Pinal County, you will need to get a state trust permit for some of the areas, and many of the dirt roads are unmaintained, very rocky, and extremely challenging.

If you do some internet scouring ahead of time, you can find coordinates to some of the old mines in the area. And if you are on the north side of the river, don’t miss a trip through Box Canyon.

Finding old history out on the trail adds a new level of fun to an adventure. When you find it, be responsible, so others can find it too. So map your route, get out, and enjoy.

Community Facts

The Gila River Indian Community (&lsquoGRIC&rsquo or &lsquothe Community&rsquo), a federally-recognized tribe established in 1859, is located in south-central Arizona bordering both Maricopa and Pinal counties. With close to 21,300 enrolled members, the Community is home to two tribes&mdashthe Akimel O&rsquoOdham and Pee Posh. The tribal lands encompass 374,000 acres (640 square miles) with wildlife habitat ranging in diversity from wetlands at 900 feet in elevation to conifer shrub communities at 4,000 feet in elevation.

While the Community affiliates its people and its government with the tribal seal shown below, the seal depicts the many environmental elements that the Community strives to protect. The seal symbolizes the Gila River&mdashwhich runs parallel through GRIC&mdashbringing life to the desert. It also illustrates the Community&rsquos rich agricultural history. The irrigation system is representative of those developed by their ancient descendants, the Hu Hu Kam. From the blue skies overhead, to the majestic mountain backdrop, the seal represents the indigenous people of the area, Akimel O&rsquoodham, the &ldquoriver people.&rdquo

In protecting these environmental elements, GRIC has set itself apart from many tribal nations by having established rigorous regulatory and enforcement actions&mdashresulting in hundreds of regulated facilities throughout the Community. Some highlights of these activities include:

  • The Community has three (3) industrial parks containing approximately 60 industrial tenants along with several industrial facilities located in out-lying areas.
  • Many of these tenants have been designated hazardous waste generators&mdashthirteen (13) Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG), nine (9) Small Quantity Generators (SQG), and four (4) Large Quantity Generators (LQG).
  • One (1) Federally-regulated major source of air pollution, several minor point sources of air pollution, and Non-Title V sources have been permitted.
  • Fourteen (14) facilities hold Air Quality Permits, while there are thirty-four (34) pending permits.
  • Interstate-10 is the single largest source of pollution with 1.4 million vehicle miles traveled daily.
  • GRIC has approximately 160 miles of unpaved roads that are rarely traveled&mdashconsisting of farm roads and access routes to remote areas.
  • The Community has also conducted thorough Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) throughout the Community including:
  • Ten (10) Phase I Assessments and thirteen (13) Phase I and Limited Phase II Assessments.
  • Seven (7) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) targeted Brownfields have been identified.
  • The Community is rigorous in ensuring that all pesticide regulated activities, which include the production, transportation, storage, sale, pesticide devices, the use and disposal of pesticides as well as their containers are conducted according to Federal and Tribal Law. The Pesticide Control Office currently monitors and regulates (33) agricultural and (32) non-agricultural pesticide use permit holders on a routine basis, conducts pesticide misuse inspections as needed and offers multiple training opportunities which cover various aspects of pesticide safety.
  • The Water Quality Program carries out numerous monitoring, assessment, inspection, compliance assistance, and enforcement activities for wastewater, surface water, and groundwater&mdashto ensure that Community laws are upheld. As part of these efforts, the DEQ Water Quality Program requires regulated facilities and activities to have general or individual permits. Currently, we have issued the following permits:

The Community is divided into seven districts, as shown below. Since the districts vary in size and in land use, each are faced with different environmental challenges. The Community&rsquos residential population of approximately 12,100 is spread out across the Community with some districts more populated than others.

The Gila River, symbolized in the tribal seal, is highlighted in blue below. The Gila River traverses the Community from the southeast to the northwest and is a 650-mile long tributary to the Colorado River that spans parts of New Mexico and Arizona draining an arid watershed of nearly 60,000 square miles. Due to upstream diversions and flood control structures, the Gila River bed within the Community boundaries has both ephemeral (brief flows during and after storm events, rainfall, or upstream snowmelt) and perennial (continuous flow in parts of the streambed all year during years of normal precipitation) flow patterns.

District 1- Blackwater - is the smallest and most Eastern district. It is roughly 50 square miles and is home to an estimated 1,160 residents in approximately 340 households. On October 2, 2013, residential curbside recycling service began in District 1. Abandoned and inoperable vehicles (along with scrap metals) do not pose a problem within the Community as individuals typically salvage them. Out-of-service buildings are a concern in several districts because there is a lag in addressing the demolition of these structures, as they require testing for lead and asbestos, which must be coordinated with OSHA and the Department of Public Works (DPW). DEQ receives and reviews the test results prior to demolition.

The Blackwater Industrial Park, located within District 1, currently has no tenants. A Phase I assessment has been completed at the site and only one area&mdashan old burn pit&mdashwas detected to contain ammonium chloride. In 1997, a large tire fire occurred in this industrial park. Approximately 2 million shredded tires burned for several months in the fall of 1997. Environmental issues facing District 1: residential waste management, out-of-service buildings, recycling, Brownfields, and hazardous waste management.

District 2 - Hashen Kehk - is home to the Olberg Bridge, which stands as a reminder of the history and culture of the Akimel O&rsquoodham and Pee Posh tribes. It was once considered a great engineering wonder when it was completed in the 1920&rsquos along with the Sacaton Dam&mdashwhich diverted water to irrigate land in the district&mdashas part of the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project. Water and farming have long been a tradition and a central part of life for the people of Hashen Kehk. In 2013, surface water was released in District 2&rsquos reach of the Gila River as part of a groundwater recharge and ecosystem restoration project. This district is the smallest district&mdashprimarily residential with an estimated population of 530 and about 170 homes&mdashand was the second district to receive curbside recycling services (initiated in February 2012). Environmental issues facing District 2: residential waste management, recycling, out-of-service buildings, water quality management&mdashsurface and groundwater, Brownfields, and wildlife and habitat management.

District 3 - Sacaton - was named after the giant Sacaton grass that once grew in this valley. It is one of the smaller districts of approximately 39 square miles, but the most populated district with an estimated residential population of 3,030 and about 630 households. District 3 was the first district to receive curbside recycling services (initiated in May 2011). Sacaton is the unofficial capital of the Community, as it has always been the center of commerce and government activity for the tribe&mdashmost government buildings are located in this district. Some agricultural activities (Gila River Farms & lease-hold farms) take place in this district. The Department of Public Works maintains a Solid Waste Transfer Station in District 3, which serves as a collection area for green wastes and has a shredder on site. Environmental issues facing District 3: residential waste management, recycling, out-of-service buildings, green wastes, Brownfields, universal wastes, air quality, pesticides, and agricultural wastes.

District 4 - San Tan - is large&mdash119 square miles&mdashand unique in that it is comprised of eight (8) distinct villages&mdashwith approximately 2,250 residents in about 530 homes&mdashand has the Santan mountain range as its northeastern boundary. On October 2, 2013, residential curbside recycling services began in District 4. Because of its close proximity to the Phoenix metropolitan area and access from Interstate-10, District 4 has seen the most industrial growth of any of the districts&mdashcontaining sports and recreation venues and tribal, commercial, and agricultural businesses, including hotels and casinos.

There are two industrial parks located within this district: 1) Santan with two (2) tenants and 2) Lone Butte Industrial Park with fifty-two (52) tenants. All tenants are permitted with several designated Hazardous Waste Generators&mdashboth small and large generators&mdashthat are inspected regularly for proper handling of wastes and hazardous material. The Santan Park contains a Brownfields site&mdasha former tannery&mdashthat has been cleaned up and is currently undergoing the final reporting phase. Two (2) sand and gravel operations are located within this district and are inspected for proper waste disposal.

Another environmental concern that is unique to GRIC within this district and District 5 is the impact from smuggling immigrants from Mexico. GRIC is directly located between the Phoenix Metropolitan area and the Mexican border. Human smugglers have established staging areas within the Community prior to delivering their human cargo into the Phoenix area. These staging areas are indiscriminant spots in close proximity to Interstate-10 and are well concealed. The staging areas are littered with solid waste, as well as human waste. Mobile drug labs also pose a threat to the Community as they are left behind in random areas of the Community. Environmental issues facing District 4: residential waste management, recycling, water quality management&mdashsurface and groundwater, industrial waste management, hazardous waste management, underground storage tanks, Brownfields, air quality, pesticides, illegal dumping, agricultural wastes, and wildlife and habitat management.

District 5 - Casa Blanca - is roughly 99 square miles and is comprised of six village areas&mdashwith nearly 2,200 residents in about 500 households. Its northern boundary is the Gila River, which has made this district historically and presently the center of agricultural production for the Pima and Maricopa tribes. Today, modern versions of the ancient irrigation systems allow the Gila River Farms, founded in the 1960&rsquos, to cultivate nearly 40,000 acres of land with approximately130, 000 acres of additional agricultural land available. Environmental issues facing District 5: water quality management&mdashsurface and groundwater, pesticides, air quality, residential waste management, recycling, illegal dumping, Brownfields, agricultural wastes, air quality, and wildlife and habitat management.

District 6 - Laveen - sits in the shadows of the Sierra Estrella Mountains where the sandy river beds of the Gila and Santa Cruz Rivers cross. District 6 is 176 square miles and has four village areas&mdashwith approximately 2,310 residents in about 540 homes, the Komatke Community Health Center, and one of the three Community casinos. Gila Crossings School, located in this district, has a Community garden with a demonstration composting area. Environmental issues facing District 6: residential waste management, recycling, green wastes, illegal dumpling, pesticides, Brownfields, agricultural wastes, water quality management&mdashsurface and groundwater, air quality, wildlife & habitat management.

District 7 - Maricopa - is the western most part of the Community at the base of the Sierra Estrella Mountains. The Gila River joins the Salt River at the District&rsquos northwest boundary creating two lush wetlands&mdashdiverse ecological habitats in the desert region. District 7 has an estimated population of 660 and the fewest homes (about 160). Due to the location of District 7&mdashproximity to the Phoenix metropolitan area and the Salt River&mdashit provides illegal dumpers the opportunity to trespass, thus making illegal dumping a concern in this district. Environmental issues facing District 7: residential waste management, recycling, illegal dumpling, agricultural wastes, water quality management&mdashsurface, aquatic habitat, and groundwater&mdashpesticides, air quality, and wildlife and habitat management.


Project history: Fire support ships in hulls of medium tank landing ships of LSM class . First 12 ships differed from a prototype only by installation of big number of rocket launchers and 127mm gun aft. Subsequent ships had superstructure transferred from starboard side to a stern an open landing deck was liquidated, and upper have made continuous, having placed on it 127mm rocket launchers and 127mm gun before a superstructure.

1/1946, LSM(R)188 subclass: 1 x 1 - 127/38 Mk 30, 1 x 2 - 40 / 60 Mk 1, 3 x 1 - 20 /70 Mk 10, 4 x 1 - 107/9.5 chemical mortars, 75 x 4 - 127 Mk 36 RL, 30 x 6 - 127 Mk 30 RL, SG or SU radar

1/1946, LSM(R)196 subclass: 1 x 1 - 127/38 Mk 30, 1 x 2 - 40 / 60 Mk 1, 3 x 1 - 20 /70 Mk 10, 4 x 1 - 107/9.5 chemical mortars, 85 x 1 - 127 Mk 51 RL, SG or SU radar

1/1946, LSM(R)401 subclass: 1 x 1 - 127/38 Mk 30, 2 x 2 - 40 / 60 Mk 1, 4 x 2 - 20 /70 Mk 24, 4 x 1 - 107/9.5 chemical mortars, 5 x 2 - 127 Mk 105 automatic RL, SG or SU radar

Naval service: LSM(R)188 was badly damaged off Okinawa by kamikaze 29.3.1945 and never repaired as fighting ship. LSM(R)190, LSM(R)194 and LSM(R)195 were sunk by kamikaze off Okinawa 4.5.1945, 4.5.1945 and 3.5.1945 respectively.

History and politics on the Gila

As drought tightens hoses in California and a lawsuit heats up between Texas and New Mexico on the Rio Grande, it’s tempting to think that the 21st century’s water battles are somehow novel. But they’re not. As the history of water rights and big ideas for dams on the Gila River shows, some decades’ old court decisions, laws, and backroom deals are still playing out today.

The 1930s and ‘40s: Establishing water rights within New Mexico

Just a few years before World War II, the US District Court established the water rights of New Mexico and Arizona on the Gila River. That is, it decided how much water people could take based on the river’s natural flows, how much could be stored in reservoirs, and who had “priority”—or the right to take water before someone else. Called the Globe Equity No. 59, that 1935 decree is still important today. It also offers a record of the river and how people have put its water to work.

As Ira G. Clark writes of that decree in his 1987 book, “Water in New Mexico: A History of Its Management and Use,” fixing those priorities was important because “the flow was frequently too small to give all appropriators the amount of water to which they were entitled.”

By that time, the federal government had already dropped plans to build a dam on the Gila. In 1916, the US Bureau of Reclamation found the river wouldn’t support a planned hydro-electric dam. And in 1928, Reclamation abandoned another survey, finding that the Gila’s flows were too meagre to support its existing users, nevermind new ones. Plans for dams, however, continued to be floated throughout the 20th century.

Thanks to the Globe decree, at the beginning of each year a court-appointed water commissioner would evaluate how much water was in the Gila and its reservoirs, and how much water each user would receive. The decree also required canal owners diverting water to install measurement devices, called headgates. Those could be regulated and locked by the commissioner.

According to Clark, New Mexico’s water users were satisfied with the decree—until the dry fall of 1938. Unhappy with the low flows, they asked the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) for support. The ISC ordered the court-appointed commissioner to stop what he was doing. When he continued regulating diversions under the decree, New Mexico’s State Engineer threw down, declaring that a new water master operating under state law would oversee the river in New Mexico instead.

That set people off, writes Clark:

“Once this was done Virden Valley water users insisted that they were no longer under the jurisdiction of the commissioner and stopped paying the assessments for costs. The commissioner responded by locking all the headgates in New Mexico, permitting the entire flow to go downstream to Arizona. New Mexico Governor John E. Miles then asserted the right of the state to control the waters of the Gila within its boundaries and directed the New Mexico State Police to break the locks and take charge of the headgates.”

A legal battle broke out, dragging through federal court for years.

But, writes Clark, a final decision became unnecessary when Arizona and California started battling for Colorado River water in the US Supreme Court.

The 1950s and ‘60s: Fighting among western states

In the 1950s, Arizona was trying to clarify its rights to the Colorado
River, of which the Gila is a tributary.

In 1952, Arizona sued California and seven of its cities and irrigation and water districts over their use of Colorado River water. In 1922, the Colorado River Compact had divvied rights to the river’s water among seven states.

The United States, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico were all drawn into the 1952 case, and in 1963 the Supreme Court filed its opinion. The next year, it entered a decree allocating each state its rights to Colorado River waters.

For New Mexico, that meant a clarification of its rights to the Gila, its tributaries, and associated groundwater.

In the late 1950s, New Mexico had been also intent on proving its existing rights to the Gila’s water. In 1958, what was then called the State Engineer Office took hundreds of depositions, collecting information about use of the waters and people’s priority dates. According to Clark, the commission also set aside $30,000 to work with the US Bureau of Reclamation on a report on potential water development projects for the future.

By that time, however, all the river’s waters were already appropriated. Clark writes that trying to stake a claim on water for future use was “wholly unjustified” and “it was unlikely that there was enough water to meet present needs.”

Meanwhile, Arizona had been trying to figure out how to use its Colorado River water, and move it to cities like Phoenix and Tucson, hundreds of miles away.

For years, the Arizona congressional delegation, including Rep. Morris Udall, had sought support for the Colorado River Basin Project Act, which would authorize the Central Arizona Project (CAP). That project would move billions of gallons of Colorado River water through a system of aquaducts, tunnels, and pipelines across central and southern Arizona.

Each time, however, the House Interior Committee had blocked it from a vote on the House floor. Much of the opposition centered around spending federal taxpayer money on a project that would only benefit people in Arizona.

Instead of fighting with neighboring states, Arizona was going to need allies.

At the time, New Mexico was still dissatisfied with the 1935 decree, now in place for some three decades.

According to Clark, New Mexico State Engineer Steve Reynolds claimed that it caused at least 175,000 acre feet of water to flow from New Mexico into Arizona each year. Clark writes of that water lost to Arizona: “It came from a sparsely settled and economically depressed area whose only hope for improvement was to secure enough water to develop its mineral, industrial, and agricultural potential, and to supply municipal needs.”

Reynolds, who reigned over New Mexico waters from 1955 until 1990, convinced New Mexico Senator Clinton P. Anderson to withhold support for a bill authorizing the Central Arizona Project. He wanted Arizona to agree to modify the 1963 decree so it would protect New Mexico’s claim to future water rights on the Gila.

Feelings were hurt, fights dragged on, and Reynolds continued negotiating. Finally, in 1966, he worked with the Arizona delegation and drafted an agreement giving New Mexico an extra 18,000 acre-feet of annual water rights on the Gila.

Then in 1967, for the third time in 17 years, Arizona Sen. Carl Hayden guided the Colorado River Basin Project Act through the Senate.

In a 1967 letter to Sen. Thomas Kuchel, R-CA, Sen. Henry Jackson, D-WA, wrote: “In the context of fairness, I think those of us who serve in this body should remember that our beloved colleague Senator Hayden deserves fair treatment after waiting nearly forty years for authorization of this project.”

But during the 90th session of Congress, Rep. Wayne Aspinall, D-CO, chair of the House Interior Committee, again refused to move the Senate-passed bill. The Colorado congressman claimed that if Arizona diverted water for CAP, it would endanger future use of the river’s water by Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

According to a September 28, 1967 document in the congressional record, when Aspinall refused to move the bill, he said he’d shut down his committee for the rest of the session. And he refused to say when, if ever, the bill would be reported to the House.

Enraged, Hayden fired back, threatening that he’d use his influence in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Works to reduce funding for a water project in Aspinall’s district. Hayden eventually backed off. But the spat shows how nasty water fights in Congress had become.

And the politicking continued. The Arizona delegation had US Department of the Interior Secretary, Stewart Udall, on board. And now, they had New Mexico’s support, especially Sen. Anderson’s.

In 1968, Congress finally passed the Colorado River Basin Project Act, which was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

It included new water rights for New Mexico—the 18,000 acre feet negotiated by Reynolds—and it authorized Hooker Dam or its “suitable alternative.” Planned for the Gila, the dam’s reservoir would back into the Gila Wilderness, the nation’s first designated wilderness area.

Once the bill was signed, Arizona got busy building the Central Arizona Project. Construction on the $4 billion project started in 1973 the finishing touches were completed in 1993.

Today, its 336-miles of canals, tunnels and aquaducts moves 1.5 million acre feet of water each year from the Colorado River to central and southern Arizona.

Meanwhile, New Mexico still hadn’t touched those extra water rights Reynolds negotiated in the 1960s.

That’s because there was one big catch: The state didn’t receive that water outright. Instead, New Mexico would have to find a downstream water user in Arizona willing to exchange water from the Gila or its tributary, the San Francisco, for Colorado River water.

For decades, New Mexico couldn’t find a willing water trade. During that time, three federal proposals for dams on the Gila were also defeated: Hooker, the original dam mentioned in the 1968 legislation Connor Dam and a third proposal to dam the river near Mangas creek.

Then, in the early 21st century, Arizona needed New Mexico’s big senatorial guns again.

Arizona needed federal money to settle water rights with the Gila River Indian Community. And the delegation needed help from New Mexico Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman to pass the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA).

(Both New Mexico senators were on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Domenici was chair during initial discussions of the act Bingaman, when Congress passed it.)

Among other things, that 2004 law created a way for New Mexico to use its Gila-San Francisco water. New Mexico would pay an exchange fee for the Gila River water, which would allow the Gila River Indian Community, a downstream Gila River user in Arizona, to buy Colorado River water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP).

New Mexico still wouldn’t own that water outright. And the law lowered its annual allocation from 18,000 to 14,000 acre feet per year. That’s 10,000 acre feet from the Gila and 4,000 acre feet from the San Francisco.

Not only that, but New Mexico can only divert that water after downstream water needs have already been met. State officials have also said they will only take water from the river when its flows are higher than 150 cubic feet per second.

But, significantly, the 2004 law included federal funds designated for a New Mexico based project to access the Gila water.

AWSA also gave the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission ten years to decide: The state could meet water demands in Grant, Luna, Hidalgo, and Catron counties through efficiency and conservation efforts or by building a diversion project on the Gila River.

Depending on its decision, the state would receive between about $66 and $100 million from the US Bureau of Reclamation.

For years, the state held public meetings and entertained proposals. The process was largely controlled by one ISC employee, Gila Region Manager Craig Roepke, who was also a proponent for diversion.

But during the Richardson administration, it seemed likely the state would choose conservation over diversion. In 2008, Richardson even vetoed a line item in the state’s spending bill that would have allocated nearly a million dollars toward supporting a possible diversion on the Gila River.

In 2011, the New Mexico state legislature passed a bill (H.B. 301) establishing the New Mexico Unit Fund, which is controlled by the ISC. In early 2012, the US Bureau of Reclamation made its first payment of $9.04 million.

That initial money was meant for salaries at the ISC, public meetings, studies of the river and its ecology, and engineering studies of diversion proposals.

Using that money, the following year, the ISC approved 16 project proposals for further assessment—ranging from diversion and storage projects to effluent reuse and municipal infrastructure projects—and an additional study of wetlands restoration and agricultural conservation.

But by then, it became clear that under Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, the ISC would support the diversion alternative.

In 2014, the commission considered three main diversion proposals: a $42 million project to divert water upstream of Cliff and then store it underground and in small farm ponds. A second, $500 million project would have diverted water from the Gila and stored it in off-stream reservoirs in Mogollon or Mangas creeks and then piped it 73 miles to Deming. The third proposal would have cost $235 million and moved water to Hidalgo County.

For years, people had questioned building a diversion on the Gila River. Opponents pointed to its environmental impacts and asked who would buy the water.

When the ISC released the three diversion proposals, however, opponents had new ammunition: The cost estimates were high, far exceeding the amount of money New Mexico would receive from the federal government. But they weren’t high enough.

Independent analysis of the projects—and in particular of the Deming plan—put the cost at closer to a billion dollars.

Former ISC director Norman Gaume dug in—with help from environmental groups—challenging his former agency on everything from Open Meetings Act violations and dubiously awarded contracts to cost underestimates and engineering plans that were “infeasible” given the area’s geology.

But in late 2014, the ISC voted to pursue the diversion alternative. That vote—with only one “nay” vote cast—set the state on a course to receive the additional federal funding and to start planning where and how it would build a diversion on the Gila River.

The following year, a new state agency formed, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity. It works in cooperation with the Interstate Stream Commission, relying heavily on guidance from the ISC attorney and its staff, most notably Roepke. It has also hired its own attorneys, including Pete Domenici, Jr.

Each NMCAP Entity board member represents a county, city, agency, or irrigation district that has committed to planning, building, and operating the diversion. By signing on to the NMCAP Entity, those local governments have also agreed to figure out how to bridge the gap between the federal money New Mexico receives and the diversion’s ultimate cost.

When it agreed in 2014 to accept additional federal money and build a diversion, the state had deadlines to meet. The first major deadline was July 15, 2016. By then, New Mexico needed to have chosen a plan and location for the diversion. It was also supposed to submit a “30 percent design” plan to Reclamation.

In mid-July, the NMCAP Entity’s executive director sent Reclamation a two-page letter and four maps.

The proposal combines two components: A diversion at the upper end of the Cliff-Gila Valley that would feed water underground, where it could be stored and used at a later time. And a second component that would divert water from the river into a newly constructed reservoir in Winn Canyon.

Now, New Mexico has to hire consultants to help the NMCAP Entity refine the designs and peg down the exact locations. They’ll also have to begin studies required by laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act, which will require consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service over rare fish, bird, and reptile species in the project area.

During the NEPA process, the Bureau of Reclamation and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission will evaluate the entity’s proposal and various alternatives, as well as their possible impacts on the environment and cultural resources.

Meanwhile, to receive the full federal subsidy, New Mexico needs to complete that work in time for the US Secretary of the Interior to issue a decision on the project by the end of 2019.

That deadline can be extended until 2030 if New Mexico demonstrates it isn’t responsible for delays.

Gila River

From Winkelman, take SR77 east to milepost 141.4 to the Shores Recreation Site entrance road, and milepost 144.6 to the Christmas Recreation Site.

Gila River

The Gila River recreation area is located along the Gila River and SR 77 between the Town of Winkelman and Globe in Gila County, Arizona. It is approximately 70 miles north of Tucson and 100 miles southeast of Phoenix. The area includes approximately 5 river miles on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management that is open to public recreational use.

The area includes two minimally developed sites that provide access from SR77 to the Gila River for river related recreation, such as wildlife viewing, picnicking, camping, fishing and small craft river floating in a scenic Sonoran Desert canyon landscape. The Shores and Christmas recreation sites offer site roads off the highway, gravel parking, toilets and primitive picnic camping units. The sites are available at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wildlife Viewing
The Gila River riparian area and upland canyon habitats provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including resident and migratory avian species, small mammals, reptiles and insects. The recreation sites is largely natural habitat, and some wildlife may present a hazard, such as rattlesnakes.

Picnicking, Camping
Primitive sites with parking and a fire ring are available. Bring your own table, cooking stove and site furnishings. The sites are not suitable for large motor homes or RV trailers due to narrow clearance and maneuvering space.

Warm water fish (channel catfish and carp, as well as some large flathead catfish and largemouth bass) may be found in this section of the Gila River.

River Floating
The Gila River can be accessed for floating at the Christmas and Shores sites, with a downriver take-out at the Town of Winkelman River Park. River flows are controlled by releases from the Coolidge Dam for agricultural irrigation in the Casa Grande-Coolidge area, and are typically suitable for small craft river floating (such as inflatable kayaks, canoes and tubes) from May through October when flows are over 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS Gila river Below Coolidge Dam stream gage.

CAUTION RIVER FLOATERS: At high flows, 600 cfs or greater, the river may be at bank full, and the current runs fast making maneuvering float craft extremely challenging and difficult or impossible to avoid navigation hazards. Hazards that may be encountered include tight river turns, restricted sight distance, debris deposits, tree branches overhanging the stream, fallen trees across the channel, dense vegetation along the riverbanks, and steep terrain. Other hazards include a fence across the river upstream between the Christmas and Shores sites.

The toilets/restrooms are wheelchair accessible. The picnic/camping sites and foot paths may have uneven ground surfaces, loose soils, and steep slopes and other obstructions that present barriers for the mobility impaired.

A permit is not required for private, non-commercial use of the sites. Use of public lands in connection with commercial recreational use requires a BLM Special Recreation Permit.

Non-BLM Land
The Gila River crosses private and Arizona State Trust land. Please respect private property rights by not stopping on private land without permission and obtain a permit from the Arizona State Land Department for use of State Trust lands. A valid Arizona Game and Fish Department license is required for hunting or fishing.

Prohibited Activities
Target shooting and fireworks are not allowed. Vehicles must be kept on the designated roads and parking areas.

Traveler Services
Lodging, food, fuel and other traveler services are available in nearby towns of Winkelman, Kearny, Superior, Mammoth, and Globe. The nearest medical facilities are in Globe at the Cobre Valley Community Hospital, and in Oro Valley at the Oro Valley Hospital.

Town of Winkelman River Park
The Town of Winkelman operates a river park with facilities for motor home and RV camping, water, toilets available for public use. The River Park provides a take out for floating from the Shores recreation site.

Purchase your tickets by clicking on the Eventbrite link below or by clicking on the ticket. Rates are $20 er day or $30/2 days, tent camping is $15, children 10 and under will be admitted free with their adults.

A Festival to Remember

Become a Part of the Festival

We're Here for the Music

This is the very first Gila River

be a wonderful event for all to remember.

The goal is to bring arts ,culture and you to rural Arizona.

Enjoy the community of Kearny, a small town on the Gila River, nestled at the base of the majestic Pinal Mountains.

$15 tent camping is available.

We're Here for the Music

Become a Part of the Festival

We're Here for the Music

We will have a variety of talented musical

performer for two full days!


If you are interested in performing, please contact us and send your photo and song samples or videos to

Become a Part of the Festival

Become a Part of the Festival

Become a Part of the Festival

Sponsorship packages include

prominent placement online, on banners, social media posts, swag and announcements.

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Copyright: - All Rights Reserved

Copyright: - All Rights Reserved

Birding, history and geological adventure is what you will find down &ldquoThe Birth Place of Wilderness&rdquo The Gila River from Winkelman, Arizona.

Renowned for its 280 species of bird population habitat the Gila River is one of the longest Rivers in the West.

The Gila River is a 649-mile tributary of the Colorado River it is joined by the San Carlos River from the north in San Carlos Lake. At Winkelman, Arizona it picks up the San Pedro River and then is joined by the Santa Cruz River south of Casa Grande. The Salt River, its main tributary, joins in the Phoenix metro area, and further west the Gila receives its last two major tributaries, the Agua Fria and Hassayampa Rivers, from the north.

Bring your tent, RV and fishing pole and come Explore the Wild in one of Arizona's remote destinations.

Fish Species

Here are some of the common fish found in the Gila River, Largemouth bass, Sunfishes, Channel catfish, Flathead catfish, Gila trout. The Gila River is home to what now is the protected Gila Trout. The Gila Trout looks similar to an Apache Trout with smaller spots and a more brown that yellow base color.

Fishing Strategy

Giant cats are where it&rsquos at so if catching a giant flathead catfish is your ticket to happiness, then here are a few tips on landing your trophy flathead. Keep in mind it is going to be much more difficult than finding a channel or blue cat of interest, simply because of their lifestyle.

The prime fishing time for catching flathead catfish is during the warm months. Their preferred water temps are 75 &ndash 84 degrees. Flatheads prefer feeding at dusk, during the night or before the sun comes up. The best places to find them are in deep slower moving pools where the water is murky and/or near the base of dams. They like to surround themselves with lots of vegetation or rocky covering. Their meat is white, firm and flakey and has a good flavor however during the summer months the meat can taste a bit muddy.

The gear for Flatheads needs to be pretty solid. Flathead catfish can be got on a rod and reel, but if you want to catch the largest flathead use droplines, set lines or trotlines. This technique involves dropping heavy-grade tackle and hooks into the water and then securing the line to a tree or partially submerged limbs. If you want the challenge
of catching a flathead on a rod and reel, use a heavy-action rod at least 7&rdquo, a good bait-casting reel and a minimum of 30-lb test line, a 2/0 hook for smaller bait should be sufficient and for larger bait 4/0. You should only use stainless steel hooks.

AZGFD recommends using live sunfish, carp and waterdogs for larger flatheads and worms and chicken liver for smaller flatheads. Make sure you read the fishing regulations for special instructions about the use of live bait fish.

Boating Options

Gila River boating offers a way to enjoy a ten-mile section of Gila River upstream from Winkelman. This float has gentle rapids, except during flooding periods. Canoes, kayaks, and small rafts can do the river in two to three hours, depending on put-in, flow, and winds. Trees and other hazards make tubing and boating dangerous.

The Gila flows all summer due to releases from Coolidge Dam. The boating season lasts from March to August. Put-in points may require high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. No permit is needed if you start near Christmas on BLM land for a six-mile trip. If you have a state recreation permit, you can put in near Dripping Springs for a ten-mile run.

From Globe take Hwy 77, 25 miles south to Dripping Springs.
Take-out is normally at the park in Winkelman. (Needles Eye Wilderness farther upstream has no public land or river access.) Several companies offer raft trips.

Contact Tucson BLM for a complete list of Outfitters.
Permits are required.

Gila River War Relocation Center

This monument is not open to the public.
It is on land belonging to the Gila River Tribe.
If you are caught on this private tribal property you WILL be cited, Your vehicle MAY be impounded, you MAY go to jail.

If you are not a card carrying “tribal member” YOU ATE NOT WELCOME.

You do not want to learn about this the way I did.

The Gila River War Relocation Center was one of two concentration camps holding American citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry during WWII. The other Arizona camp was at Poston. Poston consisted of three camps and Gila River had two. 20,000 were interned at Poston and 13,000 at Gila River. The Gila River camps were named Butte and Canal. Poston was the largest of the ten caps in the United States.

Most certainly were these camps a sad episode in the history of the United States. When I visited these camps in June, 2016, the temperature in Poston was 118F and it was 114F in Gila River. Standing there in the heat viewing the terrain gave me a feeling of what it must have been like during those 2-3 years of internment. It is interesting that both camps were on American Indian land, and despite protest from the tribes, the government proceeded in building the camps. The Indians did not want the Japanese-Americans to be treated as were their forefathers.

Both Poston and Gila River have monuments indicating the location of the camps. The Poston monument is much nicer and was paid for by former internees. The monument at Gila River is lacking in information. Ten years ago the federal government allocated funds to restore some portion of each of the ten camps in the United States, but so far no funds have been spent on the Arizona camps.

Some buildings remain at one of the three Poston camps and can be seen on Google Earth. There are no remaining buildings at Gila River. The Gila Indian Reservation does not consider the location of the camps as a tourist site, thus the lack of markings. Still, they do not restrict those that want to reflect on what occurred here 74 years ago.

Watch the video: FLASH FLOOD in Arizona (January 2022).