Written By: Perin McNelis
The BRN Native Plant Material Program just wrapped up it’s second year participating in the annual Agave Heritage Festival in Tucson! The festival expanded this year to be “a city-wide, ten-day destination event that spotlights the southwest region through the lens of the agave plant.” BRN’s Native Plant Materials Program co-manager, Francesca Claverie, and our collaborator from the Collectivo Sonora Silvestre, Valeria Cañedo, presented along-side agave spirit producers and conservationists at Exo Bar on our Agaves for Bats Initiative through Bat Conservation International. The event was well attended and the the presentation was received with interest and enthusiasm for our bi-national conservation efforts in conjunction with celebration of agave based products and their cultural importance. Francesca presented again at the Agave Expo event at Hotel Congress, where the BRN Native Plant Materials team also had a table with educational materials, Agave palmeri plants and seedballs, and our new t-shirts, designed by friend of BRN, Mike Otero (available online here). The team met many agave spirit producers and conservationists working in Mexico, including biologist David Suro, who showed sincere interest in potential future collaborations with BRN. All in all, the festival was a great success! These kinds of outreach opportunities are imperative to educating our communities about the work we do in the borderlands, and to spreading awareness of the varied impacts human actions have on our landscapes so that we can garner support for restoration work and so that people can learn about what kind of actions they can take in their daily lives to support ecosystem health. We look forward to participating again next year!
Written By: Perin McNelis
The BRN Native Plant Materials Program is lucky to have consistent help from a robust group of enthusiastic volunteers. In this post, we would like to highlight one of our die-hard volunteers, John Hughes. John has come to our Tuesday volunteer mornings since 2014 to transplant, propagate, take cuttings, weed, or any other task that comes up. And he does so with such care and an eagerness to get his hands in the dirt! A retired middle school science teacher and avid birder, John spent many winters in Patagonia with his wife, Kathy, returning to Montana each year from April until Fall. Luckily for us, John and Kathy fell in love with Patagonia and decided to move here full time! They sold their house in Montana and are now in the process of building their home in Patagonia. John’s love and knowledge of the natural world, along with positive attitude, make him a wonderful part of the team.
John is also a dedicated volunteer for the Tucson Audubon Society at the Paton Center, the Friends of Sonoita Creek, and the Dirt Bags trail crew. BRN is so impressed with John’s commitment to local restoration efforts and we are grateful to have John in Patagonia, working hard with the community to restore and maintain the health of our beautiful home landscape. Thank you John for all you do!
By: Alyssa Navarrette-Cazares
Borderlands Restoration is growing nearly 2,000 agave in our nursery here in Patagonia, Arizona, for a collaboration with Bat Conservation International to spread thousands of these plants to support migratory pathways of nectar-feeding bats in southern Arizona. Nectar-feeding bats, specifically the Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris Mexicana) and lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris-Curasoae), migrate north from Mexico in the summer to roost and rear their young in caves of northern Sonora, Chihuaua, Arizona, and New Mexico.
We need your help to create an environment that can help salvage this ancient relationship between bats and agave. Very much like a bee and flower relationship, without bats, there are no agave and without agave, there are no bats. These bats made the endangered species list in the 1980's. When agaves are farmed for mescal, the plant is harvested before bloom; these same practices are used in wild-harvesting, and as demand for tequila, bacanora, and other mescals increases in the United States, significant pressure is placed on wild populations of agave - and so too, wild bat populations are under pressure.
Uniquely, we work with only seed grown plants for our restoration practices to promote the healthiest wild restored populations. Traditionally farmers use pups or clones of the agave; pups are more susceptible to disease and fungus that can easily spread to other pups and agave in a farm.
We are hoping this collaboration of conservationists and enthusiasts will bring wild agaves and bats back to healthy population numbers. With your donation of $15.00 for one agave or $50.00 for four agaves planted in the U.S., we can help bring back healthy patches of agave making it possible for bats to continue on their migratory voyage.
We are thrilled to be working with Naturalia a.c. & Cuenta Los Ojos to propagate plants in Mexico. The Colectivo Sonora Silvestre is another critical partner assisting in the propagation of these plants from seed. You can support these practices by donating $10.00 for one agave or $50.00 for six agaves planted in Mexico.
Borderlands Restoration Networks Nursery in Patagonia, AZ
Photo credit: usfws of the Lesser Long Nosed Bat feeding on a saguaro Blossom