Restoring the C.C. Cragin watersheds

SRP, together with the Town of Payson, the National Forest Foundation, Coconino National Forest and the Bureau of Reclamation, have launched an initiative to accelerate restoration of forest lands that feed C.C. Cragin Reservoir.

C.C. Cragin watershed is listed as a priority watershed within the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership, a program designed to reduce the risk of wildfire and the ensuing impacts to water supplies.

C.C. Cragin Reservoir is a critical water supply to the Town of Payson, communities in northern Gila County and SRP shareholders.

SRP acquired C.C. Cragin (formerly Blue Ridge) reservoir from Phelps Dodge Corporation in February 2005 as part of a transfer of ownership that was authorized through the 2004 Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act.

The C.C. Cragin project consists of a number of facilities, including a dam and reservoir, diversion tunnel and pump shaft, pumping plant, priming reservoir, pipeline, electrical transmission line and a hydroelectric generating plant. The watershed and reservoir are located in the Coconino National Forest.

Foresters are currently conducting an environmental assessment of the forested lands that cover the three watersheds that drain into the reservoir: East Clear Creek, Bear Canyon, and Miller Canyon. These areas – all priority watersheds that are home to diverse wildlife and receive heavy recreational use – are at risk of significant damage due to overgrown forests that heighten the probabilities of a catastrophic wildfire.

SRP, together with its partners, will collaborate on the Cragin Watershed Protection Project (CWPP) to protect Cragin Reservoir water supplies, water quality and other public benefits, such as wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

The CWPP aims to minimize risks associated with severe and uncharacteristic wildfire on approximately 64,000 acres of land that surround the C.C. Cragin reservoir. Specific use of thinning and wildfire treatments will be determined during the planning process over the next two years.