By: Cholla Rose Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Coordinator
Historically fire season in Arizona occurred from May through October. According to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, fire season is now year-round, and humans start nine out of 10 wildfires. Last summer’s extraordinary monsoon season has created an abundance of dry fuel, prompting Borderlands Wildlife Preserve (BWP) managers to reach out to local experts to learn more about fire prevention for the preserve. Fortunately, the Town of Patagonia has an excellent volunteer fire department that can advise and help local homeowners and land managers.
I was happy that Patagonia Volunteer Fire and Rescue Captain Zay Hartigan was able to spare some of his valuable time to access our needs on the preserve. As we drove, Zay pointed out areas of concern and made recommendations to provide easier access for fire crews if needed. The beginnings of a preserve fire mitigation plan are now in place with a priority to protect our neighbor’s property where fire could potentially spread from the preserve to property with homes. To achieve this, a fire break or clearing would need to be created.
Michael and Daniel McGuire of Fire Prevention Specialists (FPS), a local fire prevention company, were happy to help us achieve this goal. With fire prevention and sustainable practices in mind, FPS brought in local goat herds to clear a defensible space around areas of concern, like homes and other sensitive areas. The goats are happy to munch on excessive growth, and Mike and Dan handle anything left behind with tools such as weedwhackers. The difference is dramatic and ensures the ability to slow or stop a fire from moving through the area.
There are many resources for people to learn more about protecting their homes from fire. Here is a link to an excellent booklet put out by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management on Firewise tactics and fire behavior in Arizona. Calling your local town hall or fire department is also a great way to find information and help create a safer space regarding fire prevention. We here at Borderlands Wildlife Preserve would like to extend our greatest gratitude to the Patagonia Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and Fire Prevention Specialists for helping us make the preserve safer for all.
By: Caleb Weaver, Youth Education Program Manager
Thanks to recommendations made by a committee of Santa Cruz County residents convened by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, $35K of grant funding available through federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will support Borderlands Restoration Network to partner with the Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center (PYEC) to develop a mini-urban farm at the PYEC. Participants of BRN’s Borderland Earth Care Youth alongside visiting groups from local colleges, universities, and visiting youth groups will construct the mini-urban farm, learning about both the design and implementation processes.
The farm will be sustained solely by rainwater, teaching youth how to grow resilient food crops in projected drier futures. The PYEC mini-urban farm has been designed to produce organic vegetables, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwis, grapes, pineapple guava, apples, pears, pomegranates, figs, and eggs in the face of a changing climate. No groundwater or municipal water will support the growth of vegetables, fruits, or even laying hens. Once the mini-urban farm is installed, food will become available for youth center attendees and families alike.
During the early stages of the pandemic, food security was a major issue for families in Patagonia. This mini-urban farm alongside paid training for local youth, and PYEC's agri-business incubator program will together provide a resilient community food source and demonstration site.
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