BECY Douglas mentioned in recent article
Restoration of House Pond well underway
Tue, 06/16/2015 – 8:12pm
SIERRA VISTA — The Coronado National Forest, the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute and other environmental groups installed a new pond liner in the House Pond Tuesday at Brown Canyon Ranch.
The installation was initiated due to an unidentified party releasing a non-native Southern Leopard Frog that is usually spotted in the Southeast corner of the United States into the pond, and the American Bullfrog that was released into the pond in the 1920s by Arizona Game & Fish — hence, creating an unsafe environment for the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog and other aquatic life.
Sky Island Alliance Ecologist, Christopher Morris, said that the American Bullfrog has become an immense threat to endangered species’ in House Pond.
“Bullfrogs are the perfect predator. They can fit anything into their mouth, which means other frogs, turtles, bats and birds even. A single female can produce 10,000 frogs just in one breeding cycle,” he said.
He mentioned that draining the pond during the driest time of the year as opposed to monsoon was a tactical and successful effort for fighting off this invasive species of frog.
“The significance of draining this pond at the driest time of the year is so that they can remove the maximum number of frogs. As soon as monsoon rains hit, that means there’s more water on the landscape, and that means that these frogs are going to start dispersing. Once this frog pond fills up with a lot of new frogs, that population pressure will force some frogs to look for other sources of water,” Morris said.
Providing a mesh cover over the fence surrounding the pond and reconstructing its depth will also rid the area of bullfrogs, especially since Bullfrogs can only breathe properly in deep water, added Morris.
In addition to habitat issues, the new liner will assist in maintaining water retention for years to come.
“We want this pond to hold water for hundreds of years,” Tom Biebighauser, Wetland Ecologist of Wetland Restoration and Training LLC said. Biebighauser has spent decades repairing wetlands and is very active in restoring House Pond. He described to the groups the process of installing a liner.
“We’re basically making a sandwich. First, we’re going to put a thick layer of geotextile fabric that will protect the underside of the liner from puncture. On top of that layer, we’re going to place a 700-pound aquatic safe liner, and after that we’re placing another layer of geotextile,” he said.
He ensures that these techniques will greatly improve water retention and increase pollination and vegetation for future aquatic life.
Several groups came out to help, but to BECY Institute interns from Douglas High School, this project is pivotal to solidifying future career endeavors. Jesus Hughes, BECY intern and Douglas High School graduate, said that this experience benefits his future plans as a rancher.
“One of the reasons why I took this job is because I’m able to come out and network with different organizations. I figured in ranching, I could use a lot of networks like this just in case I ever need anything,” he said.
Qualifications for this internship require being physically fit, having a good work ethic and being able to endure hard labor. Hughes said that prior projects have required him and his counterparts to work many hours in extremely hot weather.
“The thing I like most about this project is how much shade we have. It’s nice,” he said.
Hughes said that being hands-on and meeting new people through DECY has been the main highlight of this experience.
“Just being around people who share the same interests as me is amazing. Everybody’s coming together for one common cause and I think that’s something I’m definitely going to remember.”