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.
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