Field Notes

Notes from the Field: Searching for High Spring in the Huachuca Mountains

January 14, 2021

Volunteers lie at the heart of our Spring Seeker program. In 2020, 63 people helped us check over 220 springs in the U.S. and Mexico—a feat that would be impossible for staff alone.  Retired wildlands firefighter Brit Rosso is one of our steadfast Spring Seeker volunteers. Not only is he dedicated to hiking rough terrains in order to document the status of springs…
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What We Learned from Monitoring Springs in 2020

January 8, 2021

Since the launch of Spring Seeker in July 2020, Sky Island Alliance and its volunteers have been able to visit 256 springs throughout the Sky Island region of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.  Visitors of these springs completed a quick survey in an app on their phone, detailing the location and state of each water source—including which ones were impacted by ongoing drought, which ones need some restoration work or protection, and which ones are intermittent…
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Notes from the Field: Spring Seeking with Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows

December 7, 2020

Since the most memorable years of my life were spent in the Peace Corps, I’m always excited to meet another returned Peace Corps Volunteer (“RPCV”), which happens quite often in Tucson! These perpetual run-ins are mostly because of the University of Arizona Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program. The Coverdell program is a national fellowship that…
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Friday Flora Feature: Arizona Walnut

December 4, 2020

When searching for water in the Sky Islands, finding a walnut tree can be a great indicator that you’re getting close to a spring, stream, or other water source! These towering woody plants are a key part of our mountain ecosystems, a vital source of food for wildlife, and the focus of this Friday’s Flora…
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A Quick Guide to Springs in the Sky Islands

November 3, 2020

If you’ve ever wondered what springs are, how they form, or why they’re important to the ecosystems and habitats found in the Sky Island region, go no further. In celebration of hitting three months of spring seeking—a community project that has allowed us to monitor the health of our springs in Arizona and Sonora—we’ve put together a quick guide to help you navigate the many…
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Wall Construction at the San Pedro River

September 2, 2020

In July 2020, construction of a 30-foot steel border wall began across the last free-flowing river in Arizona. Despite monsoon floods that push water 140 miles from the San Pedro River’s headwaters in Mexico northwards to its convergence with the Gila River in Winkelman, Arizona, construction crews are actively trenching and installing steel bollards this month. This type of river barrier is unprecedented and raises many questions about how…
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Finding Water in Chiricahua Mountains

August 24, 2020

In my time living in the Sky Islands, I’ve made a habit of seeking out any water source that’s just deep enough to plop down in and taking a dunk. Finding water to jump in is one of my favorite pastimes, even when it’s freezing cold, or tiny! And, you can combine swimming hole visitation…
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Notes from the Field: Florida Canyon, Wilderness Springs Survey

August 18, 2020

Driving back from the field the other day I smiled as I merged onto I-19 heading back towards Tucson. I had traveled just a mere hour from my home and had enjoyed another rewarding day in the field, learning, connecting, and appreciating the natural beauty of our Sky Islands.  The day was spent getting to some harder-to-reach springs in the Mt. Wrightson Wilderness…
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Explore our Springs Map to Understand Conservation Need

July 28, 2020

Our Sky Island region is estimated to have 10,000 springs—places where groundwater comes to the surface and provide vital water for plants, wildlife, and people. That is a huge number of water sources to track and care for across Arizona and Sonora, but we’re up for the challenge! To help us understand which springs need our help most, we developed a Spring Prioritization Tool to compare the relative…
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Wilderness Springs Training

July 21, 2020

Did you know that springs on U.S. Forest Service land might not be protected unless they are surveyed to validate the water rights? Come learn more about our new Spring Seeker survey and how you can help survey wilderness spring this summer in Coronado National Forest! We’ll cover topics including which wilderness areas need to…
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