The Wildlife Corridor is an important connecting tract of land just outside of Patagonia, Arizona. The corridor connects the Sierra San Antonio Mountain range from Mexico to the Patagonia Mountains. The wildlife trail that we worked on will connect the Arizona Trail into the Santa Rita Mountains. It is home to an impressive Agave parryi patch which we know has been a food source to the people of the desert for 9,000 years. Many birds and wildlife call this 1,300 acre of protected land home.
Every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. locals and friends meet at a trail head. Today 16 volunteer “dirt bags” met just outside of Smith Canyon in the wildlife corridor to work the trail. I asked a volunteer Joe, "how long he had been a dirt bag?", and he joked “all my life”. The name dirt bag comes from a leather or canvas bag with 2 handles used to haul dirt or tools.
We wasted no time as we trekked through the desert landscape and arrived at a hillside marked with flags that Chris Strohm, whom has 13 almost 14 years working trails for the United States Forest Service, had strategically placed using GPS to track inclines in the landscape and keep record of points of interest. Chris talked about the importance of safety and carefully guided us along the ½ mile trail that the dirt bags are currently working on. He gave us each a pick and a tool called a McLeod. The McLeod is the #1 tool used to make trails, created by a US Forest Service Ranger Malcolm McLeod, and is somewhat like a rake used to move sediment and shape trails. We got to work picking into the brown rocky soil, moving the dirt off the trail and making sure the width and slope were correct.
I left having a deep appreciation for the work that dirt bags do. The dirt bags play a important role in preserving and keeping pristine trails. This specific trail will connect to the Arizona Trail that runs the whole length of Arizona. It will have panoramic views of 4 mountain ranges, an impressive geological area, and has a vast amount of botany. The trail will showcase many of these areas where the land looks washed away uncovering large rocks and creating washes. The trail goes alongside parts of the desert that look like it is still being moved and created by the elements. Chris and the Dirt Bag crew are dedicated individuals whom are creating a wonderful place for generations to visit, enjoy and cherish for many years. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside them.
Come learn, work and play with Borderlands Restoration Network this summer in the Madrean Sky Islands!
The BRN Field School is an immersive, practical training course designed to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders in the Sky Islands. This three week course, running July 15 - August 8, 2019, focuses on the social and ecological issues of the southern Arizona and northern Mexico borderlands region. The curriculum includes a series of integrated lectures, workshops, field trips, and hands-on learning opportunities in active projects that cover a wide breadth of topics fro technical skills in plant propagation to the foundational principles of a restoration economy. The Field School is guided by a diverse set of leading experts from across the spectrum of agencies, non-profits, and partner organizations.
Field School participants will discuss the current challenges and opportunities of working in the US/Mexico borderlands, all while gaining a sense of place around the unique Madrean Archipelago ecoregion. The varied itinerary will include hands-on projects, lectures, workshops, field experiences, and more.
The BRN Field School topics include topics ranging from the Regional History of the Madrean Archipelago, Cultural/Ecological Perspectives of the US/Mexico Border, Seed Collection and Native Plant Propagation, Watershed Restoration and Impacts of the Border on Flows, Wild Edibles and Harvesting in the Sonoran Desert, Indigenous Food Production and Sovereignty, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecological Restoration in the Borderlands, Permaculture Design in Arid Regions, Economics of Restoration and Ecosystem Services, and The Intersection of Art and Ecology in the Borderlands.
For more information or to register contact our Education Coordinator, Juliet Jivanti. Email: EducationalServices@BorderlandsRestoration.org
Phone Number: (520) 216-4148
Every Monday morning a group of plant and seed lovers gathers at the Borderlands Restoration Seed Lab in Patagonia, AZ to clean native seeds that are critical for supporting habitat restoration on public and private lands across the region. You can support this great work by volunteering your time with opportunities each week!
It all starts with a seed, and when that seed is collected, usually a lot of other plant material comes with it. We use both seed cleaning machines and low-tech methods such as sieves and fans to clean the seeds of excess debris, so they can be used in restoration projects or grown out at our nursery.
In 2019, we collected over 150 lbs of native seed, which means we need a lot of help this winter! If you'd like to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are located on the Old Main campus in Patagonia at address 1 School Street, see above for more instructions.
Here is what a few of our regular volunteers have to say about our seed cleaning workdays:
"Volunteering with Borderlands is a great way to learn all about native plants. The Borderlands staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions along with providing a laid back and fun environment to work in! My favorite experience while volunteering was being in beautiful landscapes collecting seeds and then having the opportunity to learn how to clean and store the seeds for future use in rehabilitating native landscapes."
"The best part about volunteering on Monday morning in the seed lab is the people.”
We hope to see you at the seed lab soon!
Please help us extend a warm welcome to our newest staff member, Grace Fullmer. Grace joined the Borderlands Restoration Network community as an intern this past fall, and we are thrilled that she has now joined us our first Community Restoration Program Manager.
Grace is an Arizona native from Prescott. Upon her return, she moved to the Arizona-Sonora borderlands to use the skills she developed while earning her BS in Environmental Biology and an MS in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University.
Grace is working with BRN and our partner organizations to develop opportunities for border communities to connect and restore their surrounding natural environments. When she's not busy engaging with communities, you can find her our exploring the natural environments with her friends and her dog, Coya.
To learn more about our Community Restoration Program or to get involved, contact Grace at email@example.com or sign-up to volunteer on our website.
Interested in joining the BRN team? Read through our current Job Opportunities. Currently we are hiring a Watershed Restoration Project Manager and a Development and Administrative Assistant.
Borderlands Restoration Network is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the work of building a restoration economy in the Borderlands with some amazing member organizations. This week we want to share some of the great work happening at our member organization: Cuenca Los Ojos.
Read on for an article from one of their recent newsletters. Read more about CLO and join their mailing list by visiting them at the following link:
Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation
What does a volunteer experience at CLO? Each visit is unique. This newsletter describes some of the ideas that Isaac of the Chaa ranch in Texas was exposed to as he did his volunteer work...
Passing on to the Next Generation
Good land management takes into account not only agriculture and cattle but also water and fish, soils and plants, insects and small and large mammals. All play an indispensable role in a healthy environment. CLO concentrates on water recovery because water supports life, so the first task was to study the stream, how water moves, where the force is strongest, where vegetation has been able to establish and is slowing the flood flows and where rock retention structures (gabions) will be needed.
The following day, three investigators from Sky Island Alliance Bryon, Stuart, and Tom came out to find a spring. They were equipped with nets, a water kit to test Ph, a pipe to measure flow, and a half globe. Looking into the globe one can find one’s position relative to the horizon line and in doing so determine the amount of sunlight that spot receives. Isaac went out with them to find the spring which they never found. I think it was a difficult task because, water was seeping out of the hills everywhere.
Next Isaac went to Mexico where for two weeks he learned how to plant trees to help restore native habitat and prevent erosion. Gerardo took Isaac with him to check the game cameras. Isaac said:- “ While we were out, we stopped by the pasture where the adult cows were being held. What a sight, hundreds of mature cows surrounded by tall grass, the animals themselves some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen”.
Previously Jose Manuel had taken Isaac to show him how we are doing restorative grazing. - “Properly handled and rotated the cows will eat invasive species, including buffel grass which is a big problem in Texas. Jose Manuel makes sure cows have enough protein which is easily observed in their manure. He does not worm or use pesticides on the cows. As a consequence down the line dung beetles are able to break up and incorporate manure into the soil and this action allows nutrients and bacteria to be available to plant life which creates a healthy environment”.
Finally, Joe Manuel took Isaac to see the water restoration and the gabion work that is the signature work of CLO. Isaac closes his report saying "it is really amazing to see how many local people are involved in the ranch and native restoration efforts in Mexico, a community of people young and old , what it used to be like in the US, but now we can only dream about. I am very inspired by how accessible the ranches appears to be to kids, scientists, anyone, who wants to come and learn”.
To see more of the great work happening at Cuenca Los Ojos, to make a tax-deductible donation, or to subscribe to their newsletter, visit their webpage at: https://cuencalosojos.org/
As the holidays quickly approach and we rush to find gifts for family and friends, Borderlands Restoration wants to remind you to shop local. Check out our plant sales at an upcoming Farmer's Market, purchase our seeds at the Gathering Grounds in Patagonia, or order from our seed catalog: www.borderlandsrestoration.org/online-store.html.
But if you do need to order other items online, remember you can support BRN when you shop through the Amazon Smile program.
Amazon donates to Borderlands Restoration Network whenever you shop using the following link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/47-2581032
Forget to type in Smile.Amazon? Don't worry we do too. Try using the browser extension Smilematic which will automatically redirect you to AmazonSmile whenever you shop at Amazon!
And remember you can always donate directly to us to support the creation of a restoration economy in the Madrean Sky Islands on our Support page.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING HABITAT FOR NEO-TROPICAL BIRDS
Join Borderlands Restoration and Friends of Sonoita Creek for a presentation from author Martyn Kenefick on the importance of maintaining habitat for neo-tropical birds.
Martyn moved to Trinidad in 1999 and spent the next 15 years working as a bird tour leader for a number of companies, guiding in Trinidad & Tobago and many other countries. In 2007, he became the main author of the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago Field Guide, the 3rd edition of which will be published early in 2019.
Don't miss this opportunity to speak with an expert working in the Restoration Economy.
RSVP by January 4th
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Borderlands Restoration Network conference room
Address: 1 School Road, Patagonia.
Contact: Kathy Pasierb
Cell:520 604 6679
Written By: Laura Monti Sr. Fellow, Borderlands Restoration Network
Rising at dawn on scorching summer desert mornings, groups of Seri or Comcaac Indians of Sonora Mexico fan out through the dense mesquite bosques of the Sonoran Desert to collect ripe pods from the mesquite tree, following the ancient foodways of their ancestors. Adding a modern twist to their traditional open fire roasting and mortar-pestle grinding, these modern desert harvesters roast the mesquite pods in a rotating toaster and then grind them using a hammer mill- producing over 100 pounds of nutritious flour during the summer of 2018. In addition to making the traditional mesquite atole, a cool sweet cinnamon flavored beverage- the indigenous women entrepreneurs prepare a variety delicious mesquite products for their community and for sale commercially. Tortillas, mesquite empanadas filled with cactus fruit, smoothies, cookies, and pizza are sold at community festivals, and are fed to youth at school and to conservation teams working to protect mesquite and ironwood tree habitat. These mesquite foods provide a healthy alternative to junk food and soda and help to prevent diabetes in young people, which is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the community. In addition to these community nutrition benefits, the mesquite tree provides habitat for hundreds of species and nourishes the soil. Young Comcaac conservation leaders are monitoring the coastal desert forests of mesquite-ironwood and mangrove habitat to prevent over exploitation by outsiders. The social enterprise provides critical income for over 25 harvesters preventing hunger during the gaps in their summer fishing season. To support these community nutrition and conservation efforts, the flour is sold commercially in Sonora and in the U.S. The Comcaac health and conservation projects are co-sponsored by Borderlands Restoration Network, Prescott College Kino Bay Center For Cultural and Ecological Studies and the University of Arizona Next-Generation of Sonoran Desert Researchers. The flour can be purchased at Red Mountain Foods in Patagonia, Arizona.
Left: Ancient Seri mesquite grinding area in Comcaac territory.
Right: Desert Harvesters and Conservation Leaders Vilma Morales, Veronica Molina, Azucena Morales, Manuel Monroy
Written by Caleb Weaver, Borderlands Earth Care Youth Program Manager
When I asked Nick, a Patagonia Union High School student and intern with the Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Program, about his experience this past summer, here’s what he said: “I’ve always cared deeply for the environment, especially in our local Patagonia area. Before working with BECY last summer, I had no idea how huge a positive impact someone as small as myself was capable of making. Now, thanks to the BECY experience, I have the knowledge, tools, and confidence to set out helping the environment with my everyday actions.”
This past summer was Nick’s first year on the Patagonia crew, although he heard about the program from his older brother who had graduated from BECY a couple years back. Along with daily educational activities – in Watershed Restoration, Ecosystem Restoration, and Community Restoration – Nick was paid to work on real habitat restoration projects alongside his peers. Under the heat of the intense June sun, during the pre-monsoon season some ecologists call Arizona’s “Dry Summer,” Nick and the Patagonia BECY crew worked in collaboration with youth from across the Arizona borderlands under extreme environmental conditions. Their goal: slow, spread, and sink rainwater runoff into the earth while simultaneously arresting erosion on working landscapes.
During the first week of the six-week program, the Nogales and Patagonia crews worked together to restore the upper reaches of their shared Sonoita Creek Watershed on the T4 Ranch. They searched the rocky hillsides (which formed from ancient debris flows) for appropriately-sized cobbles. These youth then placed the rock in drainages, allowing water slow and sink back into the earth. Later in the program, the Douglas and Patagonia crews worked alongside each other to stabilize and revegetate part of the 47 Ranch – building upon the skills they developed previously in the program. Meanwhile, the youth connected with Dennis and Deb Moroney, the humble ranch owners and land stewards who work diligently to keep the desert-adapted cattle and sheep they graze amongst the Mule Mountains accessible to Southern Arizona consumers.
While there were a few weeks of overlap between this summer’s three BECY programs, the work differs slightly between programs. The Douglas crew spent the majority of the summer restoring burned landscapes (namely Pinery Canyon, Reed Creek, and eroding drainage adjacent to Ash Spring) and improving spring-side habitat in the Chiricahua Mountains. The Nogales crew stabilized the watershed by building over 200 erosion-control structures from rock and wood at T4 Ranch, spending a few days visiting nearby farms, ranches, and nurseries. And the Patagonia crew bounced between locations, working on ranches, farms, and on contracted restoration projects in and around the town of Patagonia. The diversity of the Patagonia crew’s work was a great success within the program, and we hope to diversify work for the other crews next year.
As these programs are paid internships, each crew’s daily work depends upon source of funding. BECY has strong partnerships with the US Forest Service, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Partners for Fish & Wildlife – all of whom have supported habitat restoration work in specific locations. This past year, the Patagonia crew was hired by local landowners to address backyard erosion and biodiversity concerns. As BECY grows, we hope to diversify work locations, particularly for the Douglas and Nogales crews.
To learn more about BECY – including project details from this past summer, breakdown of funding sources, lessons learned, and plans for the future – check out the Final Report on the BECY webpage: www.borderlandsrestoration.org/becy. And feel free to contact me if you’d like to hire BECY next summer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lynn Davison, BRN Board Chair
When people ask me why I am so invested in our work at Borderlands Restoration Network, the answers come easily. It all starts with the land, the Madrean Sky Islands of the southwest US and northern Mexico. E. O. Wilson includes our region in the top 10 for preservation in the Americas due to its remarkable biodiversity. The land and the multitude of plants and animals that live here are currently at risk due to the combination of climate change, overgrazing, and impacts of extractive industries. It is so important now to actively restore land, water, and habitat and to protect critical lands from future degradation. We know how to do that! If you doubt it, just consider what has happened at Cuenca Los Ojos, our Network partner, over the last 30 years…..return of amazing riparian areas with year-round water and lush habitats to support the biodiversity our region is known for.
For me, however, the real hook is the combination of restoring the land AND supporting the cultures and economic health of the people who live on it. At Borderlands, this is not either or, it’s both. Our mission is focused on building a restoration based economy in the borderlands….we strive to be an environmental organization, a cultural organization, and an economic development organization. While this path may be more complicated, it is the most respectful of the histories and cultures of the people who have been here for many centuries. It is also far more sustainable over time.
Our region, along the US/Mexico border, is a very visible stage for the world to watch the impacts of political gamesmanship on the lives of innocent people. For many, this is the only lens they see the borderlands through. We are so much more. Borderlands Restoration Network has a big vision, strong partner organizations, a remarkable combination of seasoned leaders and smart committed young staff. and an organizational structure that is both efficient and capable of securing earned income, public and private grants and contracts, private investments and donations. Our business model is grounded in partnerships and, as a bi-national organization, that includes people and organizations on both sides of the border. We place a significant focus on education with the goal of supporting the next generation of leaders to expand and carry on the work. We have a great reputation with the public agencies, private foundations, and individuals that support out work.
I am proud to be part of the Borderlands team. We are already making a real difference and will do much more as we increase the number of people and organizations that support our work. There are many ways to provide support: