Tucson to celebrate revitalized waterway in June

Tucson residents are invited to celebrate the return of an endangered species and foster public awareness of the revitalization of the Santa Cruz River this month.

Tucson residents are invited to celebrate the return of an endangered species and foster public awareness of the revitalization of the Santa Cruz River this month.

The celebrations are a collaboration between scientists, artists and advocates that will feature artwork, picnics, outdoor activities and specialty cocktails beginning Thursday. Events are scheduled throughout the month until the final event on June 23.

The Gila topminnow was one of Arizona’s most imperiled fish and listed as endangered in 1967, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. However, the tiny swimmer and four other species of fish were discovered in November to be thriving in the Santa Cruz River. 

The fishes' homecoming is the result of a wastewater treatment program that began in the ’70s. It revitalized the Santa Cruz River and produced more than 20 miles of healthy green banks along the waterway. 


Kimi Eisele   Facebook

The habitat was further enhanced in 2013 after Pima County made more than $600 million in upgrades to its wastewater facilities. The improvements increased the health and vitality of groundwater and wildlife in the area, and also diminished unpleasant odors and established new recreational areas for the community.

Local artist Kimi Eisele used the story of the Gila topminnow to illustrate and raise awareness of the flourishing ecosystem that runs from Tucson to Marana by teaming up with Pima County and the Sonoran Desert Institute.

“The [Gila topminnow] seemed like the perfect messenger to tell the public about the river — that it is actually flowing through part of Tucson — and creating a healthy habitat for wildlife, plants, and people,” Eisele said. 

For the project, Eisele — who utilizes her artwork to bring attention to environmental issues — created stencils of the minnow and penned six short stories of its return to the area and plastered the work in public areas throughout Tucson.

The public events kick off with a Gila Topminnow Cocktail and bike decorating party at Expo Bar, 403 N. Sixth Ave, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Gila Topminnow Returns Bike Ride starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River Park, and the Gila Topminnow Riverside Picnic Dinner starts at 6 p.m. on June 23, also on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River Park.

Want to get notified whenever we write about any of these organizations ?

Sign-up Next time we write about any of these organizations, we'll email you a link to the story. You may edit your settings or unsubscribe at any time.

Organizations in this Story

Arizona Game and Fish Department Pima County Sonoran Desert Institute

More News

Metro Business Network