Human Uses

Groundwater pumping and diversions for cities and agriculture are the most serious threats to the river. Groundwater pumping is covered in the following sections.

Other human uses have damaged the river in the past, but are now largely controlled:

Careless Campers

trashpickersCARELESS CAMPERS leave water bottles, beer cans, and trash along the river. In this photo, Sierra Club Water Sentinel volunteers display the garbage haul from one campsite near Perkinsville Bridge, including a gas barbeque and a dumped camper shell! At Bear Siding the volunteers have removed a couch, a TV(!), and a lounge chair.

Please treat the river kindly: Leave No Trace and remove any trash you find.

Trespass Grazing

TRESPASS CATTLE GRAZING will cause severe damage to riparian vegetation. Prescott National Forest permits grazing in the  highlands surrounding the river, but cattle are required to be excluded from the riparian zone. Cattle ranchers are generally very cooperative and try to comply, but the cattle are determined to reach the river.  A lot can go wrong with the fences: Off-Highway Vehicle riders sometimes cut fences, hikers leave gates open, and cattle can sometimes push through. If you notice cattle in the river, take a photo, note the GPS location, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  We will contact the authorities and follow up.

Illegal Off-highway Vehicles

ILLEGAL OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES have historically caused significant damage. Until 2009, they drove in the river, on the banks, and across the river while smashing plants and disturbing wildlife; they left gates open and cut fences, allowing cattle into the river; they left a trail of trash, mainly Bud Lite cans; they made new roads, creating an eroded mess; they damaged USFS signs; and they rode across archaeological sites.
Prescott National Forest has since armored the trailheads and controlled the illegal OHV riders.
If you see OHV riders in the river corridor, take a photo, note the GPS location, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will contact the authorities and follow up.

Private Ownership of the River Bed

So, What Floats Your Boat
A presentation by Asst. Atty. General Edwin Slade about whether the Verde River is "navigable." This is an issue presently (2017) being determined by the Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission.  However, it may actually be settled in court.  If the Commission rules the Verde was not navigable under natural conditions at statehood then property owners will continue to own the riverbed and can block public access.
View Document.
You can also watch a presentation by the author.


  • "Ranchers need clean water for their stock, farmers need it for their crops, every employer needs it to stay in business, and every living thing needs it for life... The law needs to be clear to protect water quality and the rights of landowners."
    Mark Udall
  • "Water is the driver of Nature."
    Leonardo da Vinci
  • "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."
    Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746
  • "...and since flow of information is to spirit what water is to life, we'd best think about how to keep the pipes free and unclogged."
    Raphie Frank
  • "In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference."
    Rachel Carson
  • "We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one."
    Jacques Yves Cousteau
  • "Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water."
    Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine
  • "Water is everywhere and in all living things; we cannot be separated from water. No water, no life. Period..."
    Robert Fulghum
  • "It's the water. Everything is driven by the water."
    Mike Thompson
  • "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."
    Mark Twain