Sky Island SPOTlight: Davidson Canyon

Davidson Canyon is a thirty-minute drive from Downtown Tucson, and a little past the town of Vail. This beautiful canyon flows North from the Santa Rita Mountains, crosses I-10, and connects with Cienega Creek. Cienega Creek is a perennial stream, with riparian vegetation that creates crucial habitat for wildlife as well as amazing recreation areas for people. Additionally, Davidson Canyon provides an important route for wildlife to cross under the busy I-10 highway and access the water in Cienega Creek as well as the regions north of the highway.

Our Work:

Since Davidson Canyon is an important corridor for wildlife movement it is important to monitor this area and see how wildlife utilize it so we can help protect this open space. In 2002 Sky Island Alliance initiated a wildlife monitoring study for the corridor.

We deployed volunteers trained in citizen-science to conduct seasonal wildlife tracking surveys, remote camera operation, and springs monitoring research both North and South of I-10. This monitoring effort started in 2002 with our wildlife trackers and continues through 2020. These long-term monitoring efforts are an effective way of documenting changes over time, especially with changes in climate and human use over the years.

SIA has also worked on making recommendations for fencing around I-10. Modified fencing would better funnel wildlife under the highway and encourage the use of underpasses and culverts as crossing paths. Doing so would keep wildlife from being killed on the highway while maintaining open passages under the highway. Thus, allowing for better connectivity between the Rincon and Santa Rita Mountains.

How to Visit:

You can access Davidson Canyon by using the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead. It is a 30-minute drive from Downtown Tucson via I-10, exiting on Marsh Station Road going north. This trailhead is a part of the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, and a free permit from the County is required to access the canyon. It’s easy to apply for just follow this link: Cienega Creek Natural Preserve Permit Request form

Run off from a natural spring in Davidson Canyon