By: Sarah Ramirez, BRN Oak Intern
I was first introduced to Borderland Restorations Network (BRN) through a tour I took with them in the summer of 2019. As a student in the horticulture field who is from a border area where I have seen the destruction that infrastructure from border wall construction and agricultural development can do, seeing BRN in action is nothing short of inspiring. To see an organization doing restoration horticulture in so many cool and different ways and working on really important projects motivated and assured me in any doubts I might have had about my career field choice.
The agave restoration project was initially what hooked me, so I reached out for a possible internship to work and learn with BRN. I was lucky enough to be accepted for the position and have learned so much in my short time here. I have learned about how the “network” part of BRN is so crucial and how true restoration science is a collaborative effort of multiple, innovative approaches.
This internship has shown me how rare and special the particular oaks native to Arizona are compared to oaks in different parts of the country, specifically, Quercus emoryi. The emoryi oak is native and prolific in the Santa Cruz County and is one of the oaks indicative of the Sky Island ecosystem. Using mapping resources from SEInet I have been able to familiarize myself a little more with the Madrean mountains area, understanding the habitats that oaks grow in as well as their importance in these unique Sky Island systems.
Oaks as well as pines are the largest tree generas in the Northern Sierra Madre Occidental (Fleger et at.) and that translates to the regions in and around the Patagonia region. With the ever-changing climate, the monsoon rains are not as predictable and yielding as they once were, the changing of climate, along with lost practices of tree maintenance (controlled fire regimes) has stacked the odds against new generations of oaks for the future.
Having the position as “the oak intern” has been a fun and rewarding experience, from acorn collecting to oak hunting and identifying, acorn germinating and planting, this project has been a lot of fun and I hope that my contributions have been able to help this organization in their restoration efforts.
By: Audrey Rader, BRN Restoration Program Manager
We are pleased to announce that Borderlands Restoration Network is a recipient of an Arizona Department of Water Resources Watershed Management Assistance Program grant! The Arizona Department of Water Resources will provide roughly $105,000 in support over three years with the express purpose of preventing the Santa Cruz water table from experiencing long-term declines.
This project will take place on the T4 Ranch, a working ranch midway between Patagonia and Nogales, AZ. Borderlands Earth Care Youth and Watershed Restoration Program crews will work together to install erosion control structures across twelve degrading drainages of this 300-acre property.
In addition to restoring the physical processes of this site, we will also spread native, pelletized seed and mulch across bare ground. These activities will mitigate soil loss, increase water infiltration, and enhance native plant abundance and diversity while simultaneously educating and empowering our local youth.
During July, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) staff flew drones over T4 Ranch to obtain imagery establishing the baseline conditions of this site to better inform restoration activities. After restoration work is completed, ADEQ will again fly T4 Ranch to document and survey the land. These surveys may aid ongoing efforts by the United States Geological Survey to track gullying rates with and without erosion control structures. In tracking these rates, we will garner a better understanding of the effectiveness of erosion control efforts in this special area.
As proud occupants of these gorgeous Sky Islands, we are grateful when our work can continue through the generous support of our funders. We greatly appreciate the Santa Cruz Groundwater Users Advisory Council and Arizona Department of Water Resources Watershed Management in their support of the restoration of this vital region.
By: Cholla Nicoll, BRN Wildlife Intern
One of the most amazing and diverse families lives right here in our local environment, and sometimes even our home. This family consists of 38 different species, the smallest of which is the domestic house cat (Felis catus). Cats have captivated humanity as far back as records exist. Cultures all over the world have revered cats for their power, beauty and mysterious ways. Luckily for us, four different species of wild cats make their homes right here in Southeastern Arizona. The Mountain Lion (Felis concolor) and Bobcat (Felis rufus) are commonly found here, while the Jaguar (Felis onca) and Ocelot (Felis pardalis) are considered endangered and rarely seen.
All cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their bodies require certain nutrients that can only be acquired through eating meat. Large cats like mountain lions eat approximately one deer every two weeks, or smaller animals more frequently if deer are not present. Since large cats require large meals their presence often indicates an abundant ecosystem.
Mountain Lions travel great distances to meet their caloric requirements and their territory can easily encompass 20 square miles. Protecting non-endangered cats, like mountain lions, is vital because it also protects a large habitat containing many different plants and animals. To learn more about mountain lions and how to safely coexist with them please visit Mountain Lion Foundation.
As elusive as our feline friends can be, we do frequently find tracks and scat indicating their presence at the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve. Occasionally we are lucky enough to capture a picture of a cat on our wildlife cameras like this mountain lion image from last fall. These beautiful predators help maintain the balance of wildlife in our area and still strike up a feeling of awe in the lucky few who catch a glimpse of them in their natural surroundings.
In celebration of our local wild cats, Borderlands Restoration Network in collaboration with the Patagonia Creative Arts Association will be holding a wild cat drawing contest for local elementary-aged students. This contest will take place in September and the winners will have their art featured on one of the trail signs located within the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve.
Be on the lookout for more details as September approaches!
By: Laura Monti, BRN Senior Fellow
Because of the support of many generous donors, myself, Jesús Armando Haro Encinas and Gary Paul Nabhan made a trip to Desemboque, Sonora on July 2nd to deliver medical equipment, supplies and medicine to assist in setting up a COVID-19 response clinic.
The equipment and supplies that were brought to Desemboque included six oxygen concentrators including two high flow 10 liter/minute machines, disposable masks, tubing, a sterilization unit, oximeters, personal protective gear, sanitizer, and medications. The high flow oxygen concentrators are scarce due to the rising levels of COVID-19 in both Arizona and Sonora. We would like to purchase two more as they become available to be able to supply the clinics in each village.
We worked together with four healthcare providers of the Municipal Secretary of Health of Pitiquito and five local health promoters to initiate a COVID-19 response clinic. The team assessed, tested and provided healthcare to over 70 community members. The health care promoters received training on the use of the different oxygen concentrating machines and in the therapeutic administration of oxygen. The machines were put to immediate use and provided life saving support for patients in respiratory distress. The local health promoters were filled with pride and hope as they experienced tangible support, appreciation and accompaniment. They and all the Comcáac send greetings along with their deep gratitude for the support.
In addition to the clinic, arrangements are being developed to provide support from medical health care providers via phone and through video calls. We have also been assisting in the costs of transporting patients to hospitals, as needed, and funeral costs. Much of this work has required an enormous amount of coordination and communication which has generously been provided by Leonel Hoeffer, Coordinator of the Kino Bay Center Indigenous Community Partnership Program.
As well as providing ongoing support for the health promoters and health clinic operations, one of our next steps is to help improve the physical condition of the clinic in Desemboque. If funding permits we will restore access to water by repairing the water pump and tubing and purchase filters to assure potable water. To address the space limitations and overcrowded conditions of the clinic we will use temporary pop-up tents for a waiting area outside, as well as restore and ventilate several rooms in the clinic.
We would like to recognize the generous support of the following individuals and organizations:
Thank you to all for your generous donations -- this effort would not be possible without your support!
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Laura Monti, Jesús Armando Haro Encinas y Gary Paul Nabhan hicieron un viaje a Desemboque, Sonora, el pasado 2 de julio para entregar equipos médicos, suministros y medicamentos para ayudar a establecer la clínica de respuesta COVID-19.
El equipo y los suministros que se llevaron a Desemboque incluían 6 compresores de oxígeno que incluían 2 máquinas de alto flujo de 10 litros / minuto, máscaras desechables, tubos, una unidad de esterilización, oxímetros, equipo de protección personal, desinfectante y medicamentos. Los concentradores de oxígeno de alto flujo son escasos debido a los niveles crecientes de COVID-19 tanto en Arizona como en Sonora. Nos gustaría comprar dos más a medida que estén disponibles para poder suministrar las clínicas en cada pueblo.
Los proveedores de atención médica Laura Monti y Jesús Armando Haro Encinas trabajaron junto con 4 proveedores de atención médica de la Secretaría Municipal de Salud de Pitiquito y 5 promotores locales de salud para iniciar una clínica de respuesta COVID-19.
El equipo evaluó y realizó pruebas a más de 70 miembros de la comunidad para COVID-19 y proporcionó atención médica. Los promotores de atención médica recibieron capacitación sobre el uso de las diferentes máquinas compresoras de oxígeno y en la administración terapéutica de oxígeno, y las máquinas se pusieron en uso inmediato, brindando apoyo vital a los pacientes con dificultad respiratoria. Los promotores locales de salud se llenaron de orgullo y esperanza al experimentar un apoyo tangible, aprecio y acompañamiento. Ellos y todos los Comcaac envían saludos junto con su profunda gratitud por el apoyo.
Además de la clínica, se están desarrollando acuerdos para brindar apoyo de los proveedores de atención médica a través del teléfono y, si es posible, a través de videollamadas. También hemos estado ayudando con costos de transporte de pacientes a hospitales, y también en los costos de los funerales según sea necesario. Gran parte de este trabajo ha requerido una enorme cantidad de coordinación y comunicación que ha sido generosamente proporcionada por Leonel Hoeffer, Coordinador del Programa de Colaboración con Comunidades Indígenas del Centro Prescott de Bahía de Kino.
Además de proporcionar apoyo continuo para los promotores de salud y las operaciones de la clínica de salud, uno de nuestros próximos pasos es ayudar a mejorar la condición física de la clínica en Desemboque. Si el financiamiento lo permite, restauraremos el acceso de agua reparando la bomba de agua y los tubos, además compraremos filtros para asegurar el agua potable. Para abordar las limitaciones de espacio y las condiciones de conglomeración en la clínica, utilizaremos carpas emergentes temporales para un área de espera afuera, así como también restauraremos y ventilaremos varias habitaciones en la clínica.
Nos gustaría reconocer el generoso apoyo de las siguientes personas y organizaciones:
By: Cholla Nicoll, BRN Wildlife Intern
What is more American than the Fourth of July? How about an animal that has existed on this continent for over a million years, the coyote. The coyote arose in the Middle Pleistocene, and today there are 19 subspecies ranging from Central America to Alaska. Coyotes can be solitary or pack animals, frequently forming pair bonds that can last a lifetime. Coyotes are attentive parents and generally have pups once per year. They communicate with each other through vocalizations and scent marking. The scientific name for coyote is Canis latrans which means “barking dog”.
Coyotes continue to thrive after centuries of persecution and have even expanded their historic range filling gaps left behind by the elimination of other predators such as the wolf. The removal of coyotes leads to new coyotes breeding faster in the absence of resource competition. Although it has been well documented that killing coyotes is an ineffective and costly means of control, nearly a half million coyotes are still killed annually in the U.S.
These misunderstood animals are vital to our ecosystems and coexistence is more effective than lethal means of population control. Coyotes keep smaller predator populations such as feral cats and skunks in check, allowing birds a greater opportunity to reproduce. Coyotes also keep rodent and rabbit populations under control which benefits both urban and rural human communities. To learn more about how to coexist with coyotes please check out Project Coyote.
Arizona is now under a second round of shutdowns, due to an increase in COVID19 cases. This Fourth of July some of us will be missing our familiar routine of looking towards the sky for fireworks and laughing with friends and family. I suggest in place of our usual traditions we celebrate one of the greatest American survival stories known and turn our heads to the sky and howl.
If we can’t be together, we can take note from the coyotes and at least hear each other’s call of survival and continued endurance. Please enjoy the picture of a mated pair of coyotes who safely reside within the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve.
By: Audrey Rader, BRN Watershed Restoration Program Manager
Borderlands Restoration Network is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Eduardo A Gracia and Gregory Decker as Restoration Technicians for our Watershed and Habitat Restoration Program. Eduardo and Gregory will help carry out our vision to restore running water to our streams, protect our delicate riparian areas and spectacular grassland flora and fauna.
In the coming year, they will aid in invasive plant management projects supported by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management and the United States Fish and Wildlife; install erosion control structures in collaboration with Southern Arizona Quail Forever and the National Forest Foundation; enhance pollinator habitat through support by the Frances Seebe Charitable Trust, and the United States Forest Service; collect seed for future restoration projects; and provide ecological landscaping and rainwater harvesting services to members of our community. Gregory and Eduardo will be reporting to Watershed Restoration Program Manager, Audrey Rader.
A lifelong resident of arid landscapes, Eduardo earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in terrestrial natural resources from the Universidad de Sonora. While spending many years exploring Sonora, from desert to grasslands and majestic sierras to the ocean, Eduardo became involved in projects related to wildlife conservation and habitat restoration. Living in the borderlands, Eduardo has fostered a genuine passion for uniting Mexico and the United States through his work outdoors, where he feels that his actions contribute to the development of a better world.
Gregory also grew up in the arid southwest, hailing from Douglas, AZ. Over the past half a decade, Gregory has gained an abundance of outdoors experience with the Student Conservation Association, the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Arizona Conservation Corps as a restoration technician and wildland firefighter. Gregory enjoys working outdoors and values the sense of satisfaction he gleans from making an actionable difference for our Sky Island landscapes every day.
Both Eduardo and Gregory have established themselves on our team as talented and passionate restoration practitioners. We are so grateful to have them on board!
By: Cholla Nicoll, BRN Wildlife Intern
The family Cervidae consists of what we commonly call deer, species like the white-tailed deer, moose and elk. Borderlands Wildlife Preserve (BWP) provides ideal habitat for two species of deer; the white-tailed deer and the mule deer. Deer survival in Arizona is tied to available forage which depends on annual rains to flourish. In drought years, areas with permanent sources of water are vital to the survival of Arizona’s deer species. Dragonfly Pond located on Foxtail Lane adjacent to BWP provides a year round source of water to animals such as deer and we frequently catch pictures of them enjoying a bite of lush foliage.
As far back as 1887 deer in Arizona were recognized as needing protection. At this time the first established hunting seasons were instituted. BWP does not allow hunting (or dogs), which allows deer a much needed space to reproduce under limited pressures from human behaviors. Viewing deer is most successful at dawn and dusk. Keep a far distance. If the animal seems nervous or moves away you are too close. Bring binoculars and leave dogs at home for the best chance of viewing deer. Mule deer and white-tailed deer are best distinguished by their tails. White-tailed deer have broad long tails of a brownish color, mule deer have a shorter narrower tail with a black tip at the end.
Directions to the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve:
By: Jake Paun, BECY Intern
My introduction to Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) was in 2015 after applying for their pilot year of the Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute in Douglas, Arizona. I, then 16, attended my interview in formal attire from spit-shined loafers to a silk-tie and was interviewed by a kind-hearted, long-haired gentleman wearing a flannel long-sleeved shirt and hiking sandals. Since then, I have carried on multiple positions and am currently a long-term intern under this same gentleman.
Over the years, Borderlands Restoration Network has been more than a place of work to me – it has been a place of belonging, a place of learning and growth, and an escape from the anthropological jungle of our current society. I have strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally while providing rehabilitation efforts for the delicate landscape many of us call home. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be who or where I am today without ever having answered questions with this gentleman 5 years ago to become one of the first of many BECY Interns.
I devote many of my successes, friendships, awards, knowledge, dreams, and goals to the programming and people I have met during my involvement with BRN. With that being said, I will soon be moving on to my dream career of protecting our Nation’s borders as an Agricultural Specialist with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As I have learned from my involvement over the last 5 years, it is important to not only protect our immediate landscape, but also our nation as a whole.
It has been a joy to trade loafers and ties for lace-up boots and bandanas, and now it is time for me to trade it for tactical boots and a badge. I cannot thank BRN and their staff, collaborators, and partners enough for allowing me to find this goal within me over the last 5 years I did not know existed and feel ever confident in continuing to fill their mission of supporting a healthy and vibrant borderland ecosystem as we know and love.
For those of you who have not spent enough time with this kind-hearted gentleman to know him by the clues I have used to describe him, this gentleman is Caleb Weaver, the trailblazer who allowed me and countless other small-town youth to share this opportunity.
By Cholla Nicholl, BRN Wildlife Intern
In May and October the bird lovers among us celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. These special days have been set aside to recognize the unique and still mysterious journeys many of our feathered friends take each year. Created in 1993 and now organized by Environment for the Americas, International Migratory Bird Day focuses primarily on conservation and education. The conservation of migrating birds has been a priority for Americans for over a century.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed back in 1918 in response to over hunting and poaching birds. Birds at the time were killed primarily for use of their feathers in fashionable hats. Today the MBTA protects 1,093 bird species along with their eggs and nests. This powerful law now includes four international conservation treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia. This international effort to protect migrating birds has prevented extinctions and saved billions of birds worldwide.
The Borderlands Wildlife Preserve that sits just north of Patagonia, AZ serves as a much needed refuge for migrating birds. Habitat restoration work taking place within the preserve includes vital and permanent wildlife drinking stations. These drinking stations are monitored with trail cameras to ensure they are a safe and effective area for wildlife to frequent. On rare occasion a photo of a migrating bird is captured in the vicinity of the drinking stations. This spring a Gray Hawk just happened to enjoy a cool drink at one of those monitored sites.
The Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus ) is one of the many species of birds protected by the MBTA. Patagonia, AZ is located at the northernmost range for the migratory Gray Hawk. The Gray Hawk prefers to live in riparian areas with permanent sources of water. Riparian areas in Arizona are exceedingly rare and we are truly privileged to have a glance at this species who primarily resides south of the US/Mexico border.
Viewing the Gray Hawk should be done with a very respectful distance as according to the Audubon Society website “no more than 50 pairs nest north of Mexico”. Protecting these amazing and beautiful animals requires more of a migration then perhaps a marathon. Rather than just a race to a finish line we need movement followed by rest and creation followed by more movement.
Borderlands Wildlife Preserve is happy to provide one of those much-needed places of recuperation for both migrating birds, and their conservationists.
Visit our website and check out our other activities and information for Migratory Bird Day where we turn our attention to another migratory bird, the hummingbird!
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 fostering a restorative economy which supports livelihoods of people living in the borderlands. At BRN, this is not either or, it’s both. We are an ecologically based organization that also directly contributes to the restorative economy and partners with others in the region to collectively advance an equitable and inclusive economy that protects our precious natural resources and builds on the history, cultures, and skills of our people.
Our business model is grounded in partnerships within the tri-national region where we work. 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 strong reputation with the public agencies, private foundations, and individuals that support out work.
I am proud to be part of the Borderlands team. The current coronavirus pandemic has given us a real incentive to expand our work. The world economy, based on growth at any cost, devours the earth and creates greater and greater inequities between a small concentration of the very rich and the growing number of the very poor, a perfect condition for a pandemic. We can and must do better.
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