About This Project

Laguna Division Conservation Area Restoration

The Laguna Division Conservation Area (LDCA) is a conservation area that was adopted by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Multi-Species Conservation Program (MSCP) to recover endangered, threatened, and sensitive species along the Lower Colorado River. The project area is located between the Imperial Dam and the Laguna Dam, with Mittry Lake Wildlife Area to the east and the Laguna Settling Basin to the west, along the Lower Colorado River. This site was highly degraded with erosion problems and overrun with invasive, exotic species such as salt cedar.


Fred Phillips Consulting worked closely with MSCP and Natural Channel Design to design the planting palette and methodology used to restore this highly degraded habitat. The Laguna planting designs incorporated a variety of successful restoration and bioengineering techniques, including machine planting of marsh plugs and trees, collecting and harvesting seed and plant materials, riparian species seedling plantings, and deep pot plantings for upland species. Our firm was also the lead contractor in the vegetation management during the two-year initial establishment phase of the project.

Project Slide Show

With our guidance, large salt cedar stands were replaced with a mosaic of open water, marsh, riparian, and upland habitats. These land cover types are maintained with a maximum base flow of 100 cfs from the Gila Settling Basin. To minimize earthwork, cuts and fills follow the existing topography where feasible, and adjacent terraces were graded to allow flooding and promote the establishment of native riparian species. Water control structures manage water levels such that the entire project will mimic historic season flooding.


An estimated total of 1,200 acres of native vegetation was re-established along several historic Colorado River meanders. The resulting habitats have attracted a variety of sensitive wildlife species, including the California black rail, Yuma clapper rail, southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, Yuma hispid cotton rat, and western least bittern.

Laguna Restoration Site 2020
Before and after

For more information on the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, visit https://www.lcrmscp.gov/.


Lower Colorado Multispecies Conservation Program (LCMSCP)

Location / Date

Lower Colorado River, Imperial and Laguna Dams / 2009-2016


LCMSCP, Natural Channel Design, Bureau of Reclamation Provo Area Office construction team, Greenheart Farms

Ecological Restoration, Land Planning, Landscape Design