The Gila River Project


Exploring the contested ecology of one of America’s most endangered river systems. The 649-mile Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado, flows through New Mexico and Arizona with a watershed area of 64,000 square miles. Named America’s most endangered River in 2019 due to the severe threats of climate change and a proposed diversion project, exasperated by the strain of decades of irrigation and agricultural pollution. The river has been home to indigenous people for thousands of years and remains vital to the region’s culture and heritage. The Gila River Project investigates one of America’s under-appreciated ecosystems.


The Gila River Project is conceptualized to involve expeditions that will take place in 2022-2023. Nine regions along the 600+ miles of the river from its origin in the Gila Wilderness in NM to its junction with the Rio Grande River in Yuma, AZ define the central themes of the project. Expeditions focus on revealing the complex and adaptive eco-plasticity that determines the rivers path in a changing landscape. A medallion will be installed at a significant site-specific location that represents the focus in each region. Collectively the Medallions map the Gila River Project.