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Montane Mixed-Conifer Forest

In contrast to the Montane Ponderosa Pine Forest growing at slightly lower elevations, the Montane Mixed-Conifer forest is relatively lush and much more diverse. Douglas-fir, white fir, and quaking aspen form lovely mixed-stands in this community, with ponderosa pine and an occasional southwestern white pine joining the mix on sunnier slopes. Blue spruce is common in moist areas in the White Mountains and on the Kaibab Plateau while limber pine is a major component of mixed-conifer forests on the San Francisco Peaks.This forest generally occurs from about 8000 feet to 10,000 feet where annual precipitation is from 25 to 30 inches annually. The open nature of the mixed-conifer forest coupled with the rich, moist soil found at these elevations allows for the development of a diverse understory of forbs, grasses, and shrubs.

A popular zone for wildlife because of the abundant shrubs and herbs to eat, black bears, mule deer, and elk are quite common. Common birds nesting among the conifers and aspens include the western bluebird, northern flicker, townsend's solitaire, wild turkey, and goshawk. Rocky mountain elk can be seen in this mixed-conifer forest in much of Arizona's high country. These majestic mammals graze on grasses in open meadows in the forest and are most often spotted at dusk or dawn. Males can weigh as much as 1000 pounds, with females weighing slightly less. Elk also occasionally feed on shrubs or lichens growing on rocks. In the fall one may here the peculiar bugle of the males, as this time of year is rutting season for the animals.

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