Five years deep into a Colorado River book project with Braided River, I've returned to fieldwork and look forward to an expedition to the Upper Gila River headwaters in southwest New Mexico. This will be my fourth trip to a largely unknown corner of the Colorado River watershed, collaborating with The Nature Conservancy New Mexico. I'll be teaming up with a local researcher to photograph two endangered birds - the yellow-billed Cuckoo and southwest willow flycatcher.
The autumn image in this post shows golden cottonwood trees flowing with the river channel, a hallmark of a wild and healthy river. Rivers with no upstream dams can spill from their banks during flood events, the flood regime resulting in new cottonwood recruitment and healthy willow; woody vegetation, structure, and buffet for native species. The Upper Gila is incredibly biodiverse, and a rare stretch of wild river in the New Mexico desert.