The 2015 SIRC Report – A Summary of BR Accomplishments
Borderlands Restoration is a proud member of the Sky Islands Restoration Cooperative – a coalition of like-minded organizations that work together throughout the year to accomplish restoration priorities in the Madrean Archipelago. These organizations work in southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico to strengthen ecosystems, empower communities, and prepare our arid lands landscapes for the effects of climate change.
You can see the full listing of 2015’s projects here. BR is proud to be a partner in 15 of the 29 reported projects: descriptions of these projects are found below (each hyperlink takes you to a more detailed report!).
The Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute: Our dynamic youth program began in Patagonia, AZ 3 years ago with the goal of reconnecting our youth with the landscapes they were raised on. Thanks to support from our partners at USFS, AZ Game and Fish Department, and Sky Island Alliance, we expanded our BECY Institute to Douglas in the summer of 2015. 8 students with deep roots in the ranching communities of southern Arizona came to work on a number of conservation projects; the students named interacting with a diverse range of professionals as a major highlight. Their projects: Seep and Spring Enhancement for Frogs and Bats, Watershed Restoration in the Chiricahua Mountiains, Renovation of Critical Frog Habitat at Brown Canyon.
Restoration Program Stronger Than Ever!: Our restoration specialist team expanded in 2015 with the promotion of members of our rock crew, and everyone has been thoroughly utilized on a number of successful projects! Highlights include: Madera Canyon Bridge Replacement Restoration, Post-Fire and Drought Restoration at Gila Cliff Dwellings NM. Our restoration efforts have also undergone extensive monitoring from the USGS, UofA, and other partners that will continue, over the coming years, to demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods in restoring watershed health. See: Documenting Restoration-based Infiltration at the Babocomari Ranch, Monitoring Vegetative Response to Watershed Restoration, Hydrologic and Geomorphic Assessment of Restoration.
Lots of Press for Plant Materials: 2015 was perhaps the best year yet for our plant materials program. Hardly 2 weeks passed in between educational workshops, tours (like the USFS-SIRC Restoration tour, and a Bi-National Workshop on Milkweeds in Nursery Production), or other attention paid to the BR Nursery and the Madrean Archipelago Plant Propagation Center, the collaborative effort between NPS, BLM, and BR to provide quality plant materials with impressive data tracking for ecological restoration projects. We are proud to have developed a reputation as the “pollinator support people” through our efforts in Pollinator Food Chain Restoration in the Madrean Archipelago. We bade farewell to a beloved staff member, Molly McCormick, as she pursued higher education at NAU and the publishing of a manuscript (in-progress) that demonstrates the effectiveness of BR’s food-chain restoration efforts through a nectar landscape analysis.
The Most Successful Seed Season Yet!: The release of the National Seed Strategy in 2015 demonstrates that federal agencies truly have seed on their minds. As a result, we were able to support the efforts of an inter-agency seed collection team that has collected dozens of pounds of precious native seed for the Seeds of Success program, National Park private collections, and the BR Seed Lab. The BR seed collection team expanded to 2 on-staff collectors, who worked with the BLM and NPS to collect priority seeds for restoration. See: Seed Collection and Curation in the Madrean Archipelago. We are bursting at the seams with these seeds, and excited to watch our capacity grow in the coming year!
Reaching OUT: We have been busy, as usual, in getting out the word on place-based, restoration economies; native plant materials networks; pollinator support; and the simplicity and effectiveness of watershed restoration techniques. We are working to share this information with an incredible diversity of audiences; with Washington D.C., by Sharing Regional Restoration Strategies with the President and Congress, but then also with a federal Department of Corrections Inmate Crew during some Post-Fire Restoration in the Chiricahua Mountains. Our summer youth program continues to grow as one of the most vibrant in the region, and received considerable expansion in staff and youth reached in 2015 (see BECY Douglas, above, for more details). With support from Wofford College in South Carolina, we jumpstarted our intern program and welcomed 2 budding conservation scientists in the summer of 2015. The program continues on, with our interns commuting from Tucson every week to participate in our plant materials collection and propagation programs. Our nursery continues to have a strong volunteer program, with invaluable local folks volunteering their time every week to help us weed, transplant, seed, and care for our beautiful natives!
This December, we celebrate the abundances we are grateful to possess at BR: an incredible wealth of spirit in our employees, community, and partners, that nourishes and sustains us. We have endured some long work days, stretching into weeks, and even months through our busy seasons…just more support for the conclusion that we can expect nothing but growth and increased potential in 2016. Thank You!
Stay tuned for our next post: Moving Downstream in 2016 – What to Expect from BR in the New Year!