Montezuma Castle, Arizona
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Free History For Your Report
Montezuma’s Castle History
The Riparian Habitat
Under the ghost white branches and smooth bark of the Arizona sycamore, flows a small tributary of the Verde River called Beaver Creek, born from snow melt high in
the pine-clad mountains to the north. Beaver Creek forms a unique environment called a riparian zone. Riparian habitat are t-he green rib bons of trees, shrubs, and grasses that grow along water courses; they are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, supporting a wide variety of plant and animal life.
Riparian areas have been called streams of life, providing food, water, breeding grounds, wintering habitat, and migration corridors for a variety of birds, and a suitable refuge for mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. As much as 60 percent of the resident wildlife in Arizona depends on these riparian areas for food, water, shelter and space, and their survival.
Studies by biologists have shown breeding bird populations in undisturbed riparian habitat, particularly the cottonwood association, to be among the highest reported in North America. Along the Verde River and tributary riparian communities, there were found to be in excess of 1,000 pairs of breeding birds per 100 acres. In addition, the Verde and its tributary riparian communities provide precious habitat for numerous endangered, threatened, and candidate species including bald eagles, southwestern willow fly catchers, common black hawk, longfin dace, and the red bat.
These special riparian habitats are very fragile and vulnerable to impacts from over use. They are a resource in crisis. In the last 100 years, most of Arizona‘s low elevation riparian areas have been altered or destroyed by man and his activities. Many of the plant and wildlife species that inhabit riparian areas are threatened with extinction because of the loss of these special places.
Fortunately, the vegetation along the Verde riparian community is still in a relatively natural state. The magnificent stands of cottonwood, sycamore, and willow riparian gallery forest, located in the heart of the Verde Valley, are considered globally endangered communities, which means they are found in fewer than 20 places in the world. Only five extensive stands of this rare forest type remain in Arizona; one is the riparian forest along the Verde Valley.
At Montezuma Castle National Monument, the Sinaguan culture occupied the rich riparian habitat along Beaver Creek for over 300 years, utilizing the diversity of plant and animal life to provide for their livelihood.
Visitors to Montezuma Castle can not only marvel at the well preserved Sinaguan cliff dwellings, but enjoy the special qualities provided by this unique riparian habitat flourishing along the banks of Beaver Creek.
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