Diana Holmes, Pima County Master Naturalist, Cohort 2
September 2020

Like many of the master naturalists, I participate in several citizen science efforts, one of which is a water flow monitor for the Watershed Management’s River Run Network.  I monitor Big Wash located in Oro Valley, Arizona west of North Oracle Road.  The wash typically flows after rain events and is primarily fed by the drainages from the Tortolita Mountains. It eventually discharges into the Canada Del Oro Wash, a major tributary of the Santa Cruz River. The wash is a braided channel that is divided into smaller channels.  These channels are a network of streamlets which diverge and rejoin. 

This photo shows Big Wash on the right joining with the Honeybee Canyon Wash on the left. My monitoring site is located at the Rancho Vistoso Boulevard Bridge which spans the wash.  I take photos and make a report on the Water Reporter App, a social network optimized to support watershed initiatives in communities working to protect and improve water quality.

Dry wash

Rain event

One day after rain, note the ash residue from the recent fires upstream.

A friend and I hike the wash during the pleasant fall and winter months.  We see animal tracks, birds, many rodents, interesting rocks and driftwood that have washed down from upstream and, unfortunately, tires and other trash.  I make notes and report any unusual or illegal activity such as motorized vehicles or their tire tracks in the wash. We’ve crunched through ice and snow and we lookW for changes in the wash since our last visit.

The River Run Network is looking for volunteers to monitor washes around Pima County.  If you have an interest in participating in this important volunteer citizen science activity, contact:

 Lauren Monheim, Program Coordinator, River Run Network, Watershed Management Group lmonheim@watershedmg.org

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake on the trail

There is always something interesting to see in the wash. This plant was growing out of a crack in the driftwood.

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