LoPiano Mesquite Bosque

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This area was once part of the Salt River floodplain. Plants grew here and were washed out whenever the river overflowed. The Hohokam may have used this area for gathering plants for baskets or other household uses.

Homes once lined the canal in this area in the 1930s through 1960s. Many of these homes flooded and eventually fell into disrepair. In 1992, the Salt River was channelized, protecting this land from the floods. This enabled ADOT to build a freeway on the land. The parcel of land on the north side of the freeway, cut off from Papago Park by the canal and separated from Tempe Town Lake by the freeway, became an isolated area that has been set aside for habitat restoration.

The 13-acre LoPiano Bosque habitat stretches along the north side of Loop 202 between College and Mill Avenues just south of the Indian Bend Pump Ditch and Papago Park. Volunteers from 26 schools constructed this habitat in 1993. The bosque is named for former Tempe Mayor Dr. William LoPiano, who was on the first council that determined to pursue the dream of Rio Salado.

The bosque has developed into a habitat that supports lizards, snakes, quail, doves, roadrunners, jack rabbits, cottontails, falcons and coyotes as well as a tremendous variety of birds. It serves as an outdoor classroom for students, as well as a recreation site for equestrian, pedestrian and bicycle users. Volunteers play a significant role in keeping the habitat beautiful. Maintenance of the habitat is done primarily by volunteer groups who have dedicated many hours to trimming trees, re-establishing the rock-lined trail, pulling weeds, cleaning up trash, planting wild seed and removing non-native invasive plants. (More pictures)

The Bosque Habitat provides viewing of these common Sonoran Desert trees: Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and Screwbean Mequite, (Prosopis pubescens), Catclaw Acaia (Acacia greggii), Sweet Acacia (Acacia smallii), White Thorn Acacia (Acacia constricta), Palo Brea (Cercidium praecox), Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium Floridum), Foothill Palo Verde (Cercidium microphyllum), Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis), Freemond Cottonwood (Populus fremontii), Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina), Gooding Willow (Salix goodingii) and Ironwood (Olneya tesota).