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EAC’s Dave Henson appointed to BLM’s Gila Box Advisory Committee

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EAC’s Dave Henson appointed to BLM’s Gila Box Advisory Committee

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ— EAC biology instructor, Dave Henson, has been appointed by the United States Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, to serve on the Bureau of Land Management’s Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area Advisory Committee. The two-year appointment will include providing advice to the Gila Box conservation manager regarding the implementation of a comprehensive plan for the long-range management of the area.

The principle objective of the Gila Box National Conservation Area designation is to conserve, protect and enhance the riparian and associated values of the area. The Box includes a 15-mile stretch of Bonita Creek and 23 miles of the Gila River. Historic cliff dwellings and old homesteads share country with bighorn sheep, native cottonwood, sycamore and willow stands, as well as over 200 species of birds. Many individuals from, and visitors to, the Gila Valley enjoy the benefits that the Box offers.

“Being one of only two National Riparian Conservation designations, it is imperative to enjoy its resources while keeping in mind its fragile nature,” said Henson. “A balanced viewpoint concerning scientific, cultural, scenic, and recreational values must be addressed to ensure the quality of this riparian region for generations to come.”

Appointment to the committee is kept balanced by focusing on several management categories including environmental education, which Henson will represent for a two year commitment. The board will meet up to four times a year to address those issues that evolve from existing and developed management strategies, along with public comments, concerns, and suggestions.

For the past 15 years Henson has been actively involved in research and riparian restoration projects throughout southern Arizona, including two years spent studying macro-invertebrates as water quality bioindicators of the Upper Gila River, which included a study site within the Box. Having also enjoyed using the Box as a recreation area, Henson has gained an appreciation of the beauty and serenity of this healthy riparian environment.

“I have gained an understanding of the ecological balance that must be maintained if we are going to continue to enjoy life in Arizona as we now know it,” explained Henson. “Water is the key to life in the desert and as population demands increase, there must be a compromise point that will allow for both man and nature alike to survive.”