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Stanton Repeat Photography

Mile 71.3, Cardenas Hilltop, Upstream View from River Left (Stake 1440)

Viewing Grand Canyon Site 53 of 119 Return to Main Stanton Index

Stake 1440, 23 January 1890 View Larger Image
23 January 1890
Late in the afternoon, Stanton and his crew noticed a structure on the top of a promontory hill above Cardenas Creek. Stanton took this upstream view of what is now called Cardenas Hilltop Ruin, although at one time it was inexplicably known as Stanton’s Fort. Except for scattered mesquite and what may be clumps of willows, little riparian vegetation is present along the Colorado River. Numerous backwaters occurred in this reach, including the prominent complex at right center. The foreground slopes sustain an assemblage of desert vegetation, including Mormon tea, Anderson thornbush, and big galleta grass, among others.
Photo credit: Robert B. Stanton, 57-RS-396, courtesy of The National Archives

Stake 1440, 26 February 1993 View Larger Image
26 February 1993
Marshes, prime riparian habitat in Grand Canyon and elsewhere, provide habitat for native fishes and wildlife, particularly birds. Young native fish use the backwaters as protection from predators, and birds frequently nest in the dense vegetation. The marsh at Cardenas Creek, for example, is nesting habitat for southwestern willow flycatchers, an endangered species. Most of the increased riparian vegetation in the view is tamarisk, although Goodding willow, coyote willow, arrowweed, and other native species also have increased. The mesquite persistent from 1889 has died back, which has commonly occurred in Furnace Flats because of flow regulation. The backwaters in the view are reduced owing to sediment deposition and tamarisk encroachment. In the desert vegetation of the foreground, five individuals of Mormon tea, seven of wolfberry, and three big galleta grass persist.
Photo credit: Tom Wise

Stake 1440, 13 March 2003 View Larger Image
13 March 2003
Black willow increased significantly in the decade 1993 through 2003, and it can be seen extending overtop the dense tamarisk stand in the marsh. This species now provides additional structure in the Cardenas Marsh, presumably with benefits to the valued bird populations found here. The increase in this species suggests that tamarisk may be gradually replaced by native species. Upstream from the marsh, coyote willow and seepwillow are mixed with tamarisk, reducing open sand at this campsite, and a debris flow from Cardenas Creek that occurred in 1993 created an opening of sand and boulders through this mixture. Another debris fan on river right, aggraded by another debris flow in 1993, is barren. The mesquite stand behind the marsh continues to die back, and the sand dune that they grow on is becoming more prominent. Brittlebush are now prominent in the desert vegetation on the foreground slopes, although Mormon tea and Anderson thornbush continue to persist.
Photo credit: Dominic Oldershaw

Stake 1440, 20 September 2010 View Larger Image
20 September 2010
The small debris fan on river right is now partially vegetated, but there is little colonization of the coarse deposit at the mouth of Cardenas Creek. A large open sandbar extends downstream from Cardenas Marsh, but this likely resulted from seasonal deposition of sand from the Little Colorado River and likely will not persist. The Goodding willow in the Cardenas Marsh have crown dieback, suggesting that recent low-flow years may be impacting native species here. The mesquite on the sand dunes behind the marsh appear to be dying or dead, again resulting from flow regulation eliminating shallow ground water. Many new brittlebush are on the hillslope, Anderson thornbush continue to persist, and one of the two Mormon tea that persisted for 113 years has died.
Photo credit: Bill Lemke

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