Ecological Systems of the Galuiro Mountains, Safford Ranger District, Coronado National Forest, Arizona
School of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Arizona
Ecological Systems of the Galiuros
Overview of the Study Area
Earlier mapping efforts in the Catalina, Rincon, Dos Cabeza, Chiricahua, and Dragoon Mountains included both public and private lands, taking in a good deal of the alluvial fans and valleys surrounding the mountains. For the Galiuros, we mapped only those lands within the Coronado National Forest. The Coronado includes about 135,000 acres of the Galiuro Mountains, within an area that runs about 27 miles from southeast to northwest, and 8 to 10 miles wide. Elevations range from 7663 feet atop Bassett Peak, to 3500 feet at the mouth of Kielberg Canyon. Most of the Galiuros are built of rhyolite of Tertiary age, block faulted into two roughly parallel ranges, the 'east divide' and 'west divide.' Both of these ranges hold peaks in excess of 7000 feet, with big conifers clinging to the north slopes. However, much of the high country, as seen in this view from Bassett Peak (below), is rock. The outstanding vegetation is border pinyon, typically 3 to 5 m tall, with associated silverleaf oak, netleaf oak, and manzanita.
This excellent imagery also benefited from a particularly dry spring in 2011, which resulted in the oaks being scantily clad in reddish leaves that make them easy to distinguish from the conifers. (Manzanita also appeared reddish, which made it difficult to discern encinal from chaparral). Below is an example of how this was exploited to help distinguish different ecosystems.
Imagery from November of 2011 (below) from the northern study area very clearly showed the deciduous riparian vegetation, making it possible to map some areas, such as upper Pipeline canyon, without having ever visited.