Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sweetwater Wetlands

"Ask not what your poop can do for you-ask what you can do for your poop."  Isn't that the quote?  I had been hearing about this place now for quite some time from several people.  Out of curiousity and duty to this blog, I had to check this crap out....literally:)  The Sweetwater Wetlands are one of the most innovative and creative solutions to our water problems here in Tucson.......and it has created a magnificent artificial marshland in return.  It not only draws hikers but nature enthusiasts as well....especially the birding crowd!  Today we take a walk on the wild side as we discover what Tucson is doing with our poop(pc word "human waste") and what you are doing unintentionally for our Tucson community.
Off of the Prince road exit, I found this place easy to find.  It's amazing how many years that I've lived here in town and have never been to this place.  It's also amazing to note that this beautiful area is situated in a crappy part of town:)  I'm sorry...I can't help myself:)
Parking was super easy as there is a special visitor's parking lot.  It's an easy hike and it's wonderful seeing all kinds of people walking the trails.  If I had to label this hike, it would be LOW and easy.  People in wheelchairs looking to get away from the urban downtown, you'll really love this.  And birders, where have you been?  This is perhaps one of Tucson's best kept secrets.  If you haven't been here, you need to get your crap together and boogy your butts on down.(Note: Many birders will not find what I just wrote funny.  It's okay.  I'm used to it. The butterfly crowd is much more forgiving:)  It's free and open at dawn until sunset. It's also open all year round except for the days they need to do controlled burns for mosquitos.  For more information, go to the Sweetwater Wetlands homepage.
What's all that green stuff in the water?  Probably your poop and some good ol' bacteria breaking s$%# down. 
The wetlands are home to all kinds of critters.  There were lots of ducks, turtles, frogs, dragonflies, and fish the day I went to visit.  There was even rumor that a mountain lion had been spotted there! That's wonderful news for Tucson.  This park is a great way to get "out of the city" and still be in it.  It was so interesting to see how land uses can change within a couple feet of each another.  In one spot, there is the Arizona emissions testing area and only a block away, you're in a wetland.  It boggled my mind.  How many times have I had emissions testing done and never known that there were wetlands so near this industrial park?!  I had always thought it just an ugly neighborhood along the interstate. 
The entire area is beautiful and didn't have a strong odor in the air like I thought it would. You know the the one that comes from the bathroom after your spouse forgets to shut the door?:) This artificial wetlands helps filter water. Treated water filters through sediments beneath the recharged basins and replenishes the local aquifer. This reclaimed wastewater is recovered by extraction wells during periods of high water demand and distributed for reuse in Tucson's golf courses, parks, schools and other large turf irrigations areas.
So why aren't more communities thinking along this line?  It's not only an important part of our city's water plan, it also acts as a park, outdoors classroom, and wildlife habitat!!! That's one of the reasons why I love you Tucson.  We've kept our city nature friendly.
There are over 200 species of birds in this park. Tucson Audubon Society periodically conducts free birding trips for the public. This park is situated on 18 acres of land.
I think ducks are great, but this pic above was my favorite picture from my photo shoots!  I actually caught bullfrogs doing something....I'm not sure what:) On a personal note, I always love nature.  I never go to a place with expectations because it will disappoint.  But I am NEVER disappointed by what turns up.  I had not expected to catch bullfrogs in the act of whatever today and that was awesome. For example, I remember my first disappointment as a traveler.  There was a Quetzal trail in Costa Rica.  Because it said "Quetzal", I thought I'd see one in person.  To date, I have NEVER seen the Resplendent Quetzal and that taught me the lesson of patience.  Go and discover.  Whatever you see will be great!  Just keep your eyes and ears open and you'll see something.  And I did!!  I heard croaking and water splashing.  With my super powerful teacher hearing, I followed the noise trail.  And that's the disgusting part of the Quetzal!  I've heard this trogon many times but they live mostly in cloud forests and many times they're too high in the tree tops to spot! Perhaps someday I will chance upon this beautiful bird in my travels. Back to the murky waters....
Of course, you'll want to check your birding lists to see what birds will be stopping by for the season.  Although some birds have been reported to stay year round!
If you haven't been or are curious, I highly recommend this place because it's another one of Tucson's little gems.  I only know about it because I have several wildlife friends who go to this park quite often.  More tomorrow friends....


  1. Dear Rohrerbot, thanks for this post, I enjoyed it very much and didn't think it was shitty at all. (I can't help myself either). We have a similar wetlands here that deals with human waste,and I have never been there although meaning to for ages. Hopefully this post will spur me on to go now. cheers, catmint

  2. Such a wonderful place!
    We have one in Chandler and one in Gilbert on this part of the Valley. A great way of combining recycling and wildlife conservation. A treat for photographs.
    Wonderful pics.

  3. LOL!!! It's too easy:) Very fun visit. And the best's free!!!

  4. Looks like the only thing missing mate is a thick fog!! That would look good over the water :-) Very interesting place though.


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