By: Melissa Fratello, Program Director
Of the many endeavors undertaken by our BRN crews in 2022 - building hundreds of erosion control structures, hosting demonstrations, pulling pesky, pernicious Johnson grass, and collecting, cleaning, and storing native seed - the efforts through which we share our skills rise above. Throughout the year, our watershed restoration crew had the honor and pleasure of carrying out a series of workshops for ecological restoration practitioners, working in partnership with the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Environmental Quality to share our experience in all things watershed restoration, from construction of structures to revegetation and calculation of sediment capture.
Why share? Well, Borderlands’ crew is a capable bunch, but on our own, we’re no match for the widespread erosion affecting our watersheds. Yes, erosion is a natural process, but human activity and alteration (like overgrazing, housing development, and road construction) of the physical environment has drastically accelerated this process, resulting in a loss of natural ecosystem function. In a region like the Madrean Archipelago, every drop of monsoon and winter rain is precious, and accelerated erosion essentially wastes it by spreading it far and wide, moving swiftly across the landscape while pulling nutrients from the soil, and polluting waterways with murky sediment. There are simple, age-old solutions our crew has successfully implemented to slow erosion, restoring hydrological and ecological function to our watersheds.
Tess Wagner, our Watershed Restoration Program Manager, worked closely with San Carlos Apache Tribe (SCAT) Department of Environmental Quality Director Christy Sangster-Begay to develop a curriculum that met the needs of participants, and that allows for this work to be replicated throughout the region. Our crew was on hand during these week-long workshops to guide participants and discuss various methods of construction and revegetation, and one media luna, three Zuni bowls, and six one-rock dams later, they all had foundational knowledge to bring back to their home watersheds.
At our core, this is what Borderlands Restoration Network is all about. Restoration economies restore the ecology of a region, but they also restore the ecology of communities, our connection to each other, and our connection to and understanding of the natural world. We’re so grateful to the EPA Border 2025 initiative for funding these efforts, and look forward to hosting more workshops in 2023.
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