The Gila River is the finest natural river in New Mexico. The upper basin of the Gila River is the largest relatively intact river system south of the Greater Yellowstone, and the Gila headwaters, including the San Francisco river, compose the largest network of natural streams in the Southwest. The Gila is also home to one of the largest undammed headwater watersheds left in temperate North America.
The Gila Headwaters have outstanding historical significance, inseparable from our natural and cultural heritage as New Mexicans and Americans, including the Mogollon civilization dating to 9,500 B.C.; the home of the Apaches; Mountain Men; Buffalo Soldiers; and the birthplace of Wilderness Areas.
The Gila is crucial to New Mexico’s outdoor recreation economy. It enables quality fishing, hiking, kayaking, rafting and other recreational resources are major factors in attracting new businesses, jobs, and retirees to Grant and Catron counties and that might otherwise locate elsewhere.
The Gila is also home to an abundance of diverse fish and wildlife, including four species of fish that occur nowhere else in the world. It is absolutely critical that we protect these outstanding historic, economic, and ecological values and designate the Gila as a Wild and Scenic River.