Hummingbird Springs Proposed Wilderness Additions

Hummingbird Springs
© Mark Miller

Location: Within the Belmont-Harquahala National Conservation Area
Size: 11,863 acres

The ancient granite of Hummingbird Springs Mountain is next to the relatively recent volcanic features of Big Horn Peak. The unique plate tectonics of block mountains and volcanic geology combine in ways found only in a 75-mile wide strip in Arizona, beginning here and ending at the Superstition Mountains in the East Valley.

Connecting these wild lands with additional wilderness designation will ensure that their wildlife populations are able to migrate safely with little disturbance from humans, as population and energy development expand westward from Tonopah, Buckeye, and Wickenburg.

Wilderness Protection

In anticipation of more than 1 million future residents near this part of western Maricopa County, designating new lands and adding to existing wilderness will permanently protect the ecological, archaeological, and recreational values of this spectacular northern Sonoran Desert.

As part of the larger Belmont-Harquahala National Conservation Area (NCA), additions to Hummingbird Springs Wilderness would create a strong core of ecologically significant protected public lands — for human access, cultural enrichment, and wildlife longevity — and enable the Bureau of Land Management to safeguard and better manage these values on a landscape level.

Wildlife

Creosote, bursage, ironwood, and chollas populate the bajadas and desert plains, while saguaros, palo verde, and prickly pear cactus are common in the higher elevations of this proposed unit. Rising thermals lift golden eagles, prairie falcons, Harris hawks, and red-tailed hawks high over the desert floor. The region is a significant habitat for raptors, which prey on the smaller mammals hiding in the lush desert washes of the flatlands.

Using the washes to hide from bigger predators such as mountain lions and coyotes, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and Harris antelope squirrels can also be found by vigilant wildlife watchers.

Recreation

Star gazing, bird watching, horseback riding, and hiking are other common recreational activities in the area, where visitors can experience the essence of what the Sonoran Desert would have been like hundreds of years ago — dark, quiet, and teeming with native wildlife.