By: Damien Carlos, Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag Facilitator
With the end of the academic year comes the close of the third year of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag, which translates from the O’odham language as ‘Water is Life.’ The Tohono O’odham are a desert Indigenous community located along what is today known as the US/Mexico border. At a Climate Change Forum several years ago, Tohono O’odham youth discussed their endangered water resources, voicing a desire to preserve rainwater and groundwater, and to connect more deeply with their himdag or ‘way of life.’
Baboquivari High School (BHS) and Borderlands Restoration Network collaborated to pilot an after-school program that hired BHS students to work alongside conservation professionals, designing and installing a rainwater-harvesting native plant and heritage food garden on campus. This program, called Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag, was designed for TO youth to earn valuable skills, training, and work experience. The first cohort of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag students designed and built a project called Ṣu:dagī Oidag (Rain Garden) on the BHS Campus.
The latest group of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag interns has designed a new project that will be installed at BHS. The design aims to capture about 20% of all rainwater that falls on the site. Our interns have designed this project to give BHS students a sense of ownership of their campus and more importantly, a calm space to relax. This cohort will spend a few days out of their summer break to dig catch basins and leave a framework for the next group of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag interns to build on.
We thank the Baboquivari High School administration for helping create this opportunity, our presenters for sharing their knowledge with our interns, and our students of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag for giving their time and hard work.
By: Cholla Rose Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Coordinator
Beavers are the original water storage engineers and relatively recently have been gaining recognition in the field of habitat restoration as vital partners in the journey to restoring watersheds. Beaver’s biological activities of dam building and pond creation slow water flow and allows water to infiltrate more deeply into surrounding and upstream soils. Beaver dams also regulate water temperature and help trap sediment filling in erosion areas. These slower and wetter waterways are less prone to fire damage, flooding, and biodiversity loss than other areas where beavers have been eliminated.
After the colonization of the Americas, the beaver suffered the same fate as many other animals. Their populations plummeted due to over-harvesting and habitat destruction, leaving many gaps in the ecosystem where beaver needs to be restored. Arizona is in the arid west and has also seen a loss of 96% of its historic surface waters due to recent human activity. Making the remaining 4% extremely important to protect, restore and expand. Much of the restoration work at the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve and by Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) revolves around restoring our local watersheds with similar methods to our friend, the beaver, but primarily in dry landscapes.
Recently led by Watershed Management Group (WMG), I had the opportunity along with some of BRN’s watershed restoration crew members, to join in with a group of like-minded individuals and organizations to discuss the reintroduction of beaver in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. With some prior restoration to retore suitable beaver habitat, this area with year-round water flow could provide an ideal setting for a small population of beaver and a space to study further how beaver populations re-establish in our region. Find out more about how you can help move this process along by visiting the link above to WMG.
Some more good news for beavers is also on the headlines in California. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has requested five permanent positions and a $1.67 million California Environmental License Plate Fund in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022–23 and $1.44 million in FY 2023–24 and ongoing to fund and support the implementation of a beaver restoration program within the department. If this request is approved, it could serve as an example for other states to do the same and create the national support network that beavers and humans need to coexist and partner against climate change. For more information on what this program could help maintain and support, please visit Worth A Dam and read the news article from May 14th, 2022, titled This Is The Big One: Dam Good News.
Good news for beavers or any fellow living creature is good news for us all.
By: Sarah Klingenstein, Patagonia Regional Times Editorial Team
Mayor Andrea Wood signed a new conservation easement on May 2 at the Patagonia Town Hall. The town, in cooperation with Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN), will ensure that 1,800 acres of land in the Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor is kept in its undeveloped state. Ron Pulliam, ecologist and board member of Borderlands Restoration Network and Wildlife Corridors, LLC and Matthew Jewell, Forest Legacy Program Specialist with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management were instrumental in securing the grants that made this project possible.
Pulliam said, “We’ve been working on this conservation easement project with the Arizona Forestry Department for five years and it is coming to fruition. We will be able to pay off all our debt on the land that we have purchased over the years for the Wildlife Corridor. Arizona Game and Fish has identified this land as the most important corridor in the state to connect the Sierra Madre to the Sky Islands for species like jaguar, mountain lion, and black bear, and now this habitat and migratory pathway will be preserved.”
“It is also an area that is open and available for hikers, birders, and mountain bikers. We think it contributes well to the economy of the local area and the reputation of Patagonia as a nature-based tourism hub.”
Jewell pointed out that the project is the result of a collaborative effort involving federal, state and local government agencies working hand-in-hand with business and nonprofit partners to achieve a goal that will perpetually benefit both people and wildlife. "This project," he said "also includes access to the new section of the Arizona Trail accessible from Casa Blanca Canyon Road."
Locals and visitors are invited to enjoy the Smith Canyon Loop Trail on the property, which features rolling terrain, views of the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains, and a recently completed series of interpretive signs made possible through a generous financial gift from an anonymous donor.
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