Aravaipa Canyon: Vinca Update

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Work to remove invasive Vinca major (aka periwinkle or simply vinca) in southern Arizona’s spectacular Aravaipa Canyon has been ongoing since our last update in March 2022. In fact, we’ve had three more volunteer trips into the canyon since then — in April, September, and October. Nature had a few surprises for us along the way, but all trips were a great success.

Aravaipa Creek

Aravaipa Creek by Alicia Stout.

 

During our April trip, our 10 volunteers started work on a formidably dense stretch of vinca-covered bank, as you can see below, which required many hands and most of our time to uproot. But the work went well and prepared us for a final push to the wilderness boundary. We’d been seeing that boundary as a great goalpost for this project, since reaching that point would mean that all creek banks had been treated at least once. We thought that subsequent trips would see us reaching that goal rather quickly, but the weather had other plans for us.

April volunteers clearing a bank near the wilderness boundary. Photo by Alicia Stout.

 

Monsoon flooding in the canyon just before our September trip caused the road down toward the wilderness boundary to be impassable — so our final push to the wilderness would have to wait. Fortunately, re-pulling new sprouts from previously treated banks is just as important as the initial pulling, so we switched gears and went back to the beginning. Our six hardy volunteers hiked along 2.23 miles of the creek, checking that banks were fully clear of vinca, and removing re-sprouts wherever found. This stretch of the creek is where most of our past pulling efforts have occurred, so we were able to see and reinforce all the great progress we’ve made so far.

Another bank is cleared after re-treatment in September.

 

And finally, our October trip picked up where we left off in September, with 12 volunteers joining us for the weekend. By the end of that trip, we had entered sections of the creek that had only been hand-pulled once or twice before — so work had gotten slower again. We figured we might as well continue re-treatments before making a final push into untreated stretches of the canyon. A benefit of this is that more banks are now clear and ready for herbicide treatments that will be applied this spring by our partners.

In October folks get after vinca on a previously pulled bank.

 

Our October trip was likely the last one to Aravaipa in 2022, but we’re already scheduling trips for the late winter/spring, so keep an eye on our events page for more opportunities to join us soon! And as always, thanks to all who’ve been able to help with this project over the years so future generations can continue to experience this canyon and its incredible wildlife.