In my area of the Sonoran desert, these dry washes occupy less than five percent of the area, but they are the most productive ecosystems in the desert.
|Desert Willow tree|
The washes also support a woodland of Desert Willow, Ironwood, and Cottonwood trees, as well as animals such as the Gray fox, Harris' Antelope squirrel, and Whitethroat woodrat.
This concentration of plants and animals, that would otherwise not occur in the area, is the result of the availability of water, even though the wash may carry water for only a few hours or days a year.
Unfortunately, ninety percent of Arizona's riparian areas, the richest arid landscapes in the desert, have been lost in the last century because of urban and rural development, crop production, mining, air and water pollution, and droughts.