Natural Resources of the State of Arizona

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Arizona is a state of abundant natural resources. In this lesson we'll explore some of the most important ones, though you may be surprised at how diverse this state is when it comes to the resources available.

The State of Arizona

Although it's one of the last states to be added to the union, Arizona is definitely not the least! This state, which boasts the capital of Phoenix (named for the bird), is also home to the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and numerous mountain chains and deserts such as the Mojave and the Sonoran. Arizona is bordered by California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah, not to mention the country of Mexico on its south side. It's also one of the 'Four Corners' states, where the corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet and you can stand in four states at one time!

Arizona is home to the great Mojave Desert, just one of its beautiful features.
Mojave desert

But Arizona is not just abundant in interesting facts, it also has numerous natural resources, which are the focus of this lesson.

Mineral Resources

Arizona is well-known for its mineral resources. Copper is by far the most important of these and in fact, Arizona is the primary copper producer of all the states in the country! Copper is useful in many applications, and within the past 20 years one out of every eight jobs in Arizona was from the copper mining industry.

Copper is one of the most important natural resources in the state of Arizona.
copper nugget

But copper isn't the only mineral resource important to the state. Gold, silver, lead, gravel stone, clay, pumice, coal, petroleum, uranium, and salt are also important players in this industry. The Minerals Section of the Arizona State Land Department plays an important role in mining activities for the state because it administers permits and leases on State Trust lands for many of the minerals mentioned above.

Crops and Livestock

As in many other states, crops and livestock are important natural resources in Arizona. While you may not imagine a state with so many deserts having a thriving agricultural industry, Arizona actually has a highly effective irrigation network for watering its many crops, like cotton, hay, lettuce, and melons.

As a multi-million dollar industry, livestock is big business for this state as well. Beef, pork, milk, and others products stem from this industry, thanks to the large amount of land available in Arizona that makes it easy for this natural resource to thrive.

Climate and Natural Features

You're probably thinking that people don't visit Arizona to see the livestock and copper mines, and you're right. Often people go because of the climate, the geological features, and the flora and fauna (plants and animals). Seeing the Grand Canyon is quite an experience, as is enjoying the 100+°F summer days, cool mountain air, and vast dry deserts.

Arizona is lucky enough to house part of the Grand Canyon, one of the wonders of the world.
grand canyon

Because of the variety of altitudes and climates across the state, it is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Up in the mountains we find things like Douglas firs, ponderosa pines, aspen, turkeys, mountain lions, bears, and elk. In the deserts we find things like yucca, saguaro cactus, prickly pear, snakes, lizards, prairie dogs, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and even the famous roadrunner.

Prairie dogs are definitely among the cutest natural resources in the state!
prairie dog

In fact, Arizona has more rare plant species than anywhere else in the country, in large part due to its diverse landscape and climate.

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