Butte Creek's headwaters can be found just southwest of Thumb Butte, near where the Sierra Prieta and Bradshaw Mountains intersect. The creek begins in the Prescott National Forest then flows through the city of Prescott, roughly seven miles downstream to its confluence with Miller Creek. Miller Creek then flows to its confluence with Granite Creek. These creeks are a part of the Upper Granite Creek Watershed located in central Arizona and the City of Prescott.
In addition to riparian woodlands, the watershed includes mixed conifer and ponderosa pine forests, pinyon-juniper-oak woodlands, interior chaparral, and desert shrub lands. The upper boundary of Butte Creek runs along a northwestern aspect of the Sierra Prieta Mountains in a stand of ponderosa pine and quickly drops down through oak woodland and some desert shrub land, creating a rich corridor of riparian vegetation from start to finish. The lowermost quarter mile runs through the Prescott College campus between North Willow Street and Grove Avenue.
With very limited historical data, it is reasonable to assume that the pre-disturbance conditions of the Lower Butte Creek corridor supported a riparian gallery forest of cottonwood and willow with a complement of ash and walnut, with uplands of Ponderosa pine forest, oak woodland, and chaparral. This assumption is based on a generalized account of riparian corridors in our region (Prescott Creeks 2012), as well as the suitable physical characteristics of the site. Today, much of that riparian habitat exhibits the suite of negative impacts typical of urban watersheds such as invasive exotic plant species, habitat reduced water quality and quantity, and floodplain development that creates unstable sediment transport and habitat fragmentation (York, 2012).
York, A. 2012. Lower Butte Creek Master Plan - An ongoing Community Stewardship Project of Prescott College.
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