Field Notes

Why We Study Springs and How You can Get Involved in Their Stewardship

November 18, 2021

Have you ever wondered why we spend so much time studying springs in the Sky Islands? In the arid parts of North America, and especially in the west, springs are often the only water sources available for wildlife and people. Springs here in the southwest also harbor unique species, such as Bartram’s stonecrop, Chiricahua Leopard frogs, and tiny…
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Looking Back at a Fantastic Year of Pulling Vinca Major in Aravaipa Canyon

November 5, 2021

2021 was a great year for pulling Vinca major, an invasive plant, from the creek beds of Aravaipa Canyon Preserve in Arizona. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), who we’ve worked with on this project since 2015, we held ten trips across six months this year. Each one was critical in helping us build…
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Whence Water Flows (aka The Different Types of Springs in the Sky Islands)

October 18, 2021

Have you ever wondered what a spring is?  Well, a spring is a place where groundwater is exposed or emerges at the surface. Springs are classified into two main categories — lentic and lotic — based on whether the water flows or not. Lentic (sounds like “lenses”) springs form pools, where water may not flow. Lotic springs, however, do flow.  Scientists have even sub-categorized these types of springs into more subtypes, depending on how the water emerges from…
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Finding Springs to Protect and Restore in the Bighorn Fire Area of the Santa Catalina Mountains

September 7, 2021

One year after the colossal Bighorn Fire burned 120,000 acres in Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, ecosystems are recovering. In these ecosystems, springs are a critical feature of the post-burn landscape and provide water for wildlife and opportunities for regrowth of plants.   Photo caption: Annabel spring in the Santa Catalinas, January 2021. Fire can be beneficial, especially for plants that have evolved to reproduce when there is a…
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Spring Seeker Stories: Agua Caliente Tank

July 16, 2021

We’re back this month with another installment in our Spring Seeker Stories! This time, retired wildland firefighter and Sky Island Alliance volunteer Brit Rosso takes us on a rollercoaster of a journey through the Santa Catalina Mountains to find Agua Caliente Tank and Possible Spring. If you missed the last one, you can read Brit’s notes…
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Webinar Recap: Binational Experts Discuss Sky Island Biodiversity and Conservation

July 6, 2021

In April, our Conservation Director Paulo Quadri had the pleasure of moderating the University of Arizona’s three-part webinar series on Sky Island biodiversity and conservation. Diverse panelists from different universities, nonprofits, research labs, and government agencies across the U.S. and Mexico joined to discuss the scientific work they’re doing to help protect and restore the Sky Island region on a transnational scale. Each session consisted…
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Thank You for Making a Difference in Aravaipa Canyon

June 25, 2021

Photo Caption: Volunteers removing vinca under the beautiful fall colors of Aravaipa Canyon. Years have passed since we first partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to remove invasive periwinkle (vinca) from the creek that flows through Aravaipa Canyon. The canyon was full of vinca when we started—so thick in some places that it had choked out the canyon’s native plants, so widespread that it covered miles of creek bed and understory,…
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What Our Sky Island Fellow Learned about Springs in Sonora

June 21, 2021

¿Hablas Español? Lee el blog en Español. Earlier this year, our 2021 Sky Island Fellow Ángel Garcia — who also spent the summer and fall of 2020 with us as part of our binational internship program — graduated from the Universidad de la Sierra in Sonora, Mexico with a degree in biology! (You can read…
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Border Wildlife Study: Vegetation and Drought in the Borderlands

May 21, 2021

For the last year, the Border Wildlife Study cameras have documented an amazing array of wildlife species across the San Rafael Valley and the Patagonia and Huachuca Mountains that flank it on the west and east. One of the interesting questions of our study is: How does the wildlife community vary across the different habitats…
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Spring Seeker Stories: Bear and Grapevine Spring in the Southern Rincon Mountains

April 28, 2021

We’re back this month with another installment in our Spring Seeker Stories! This time, retired wildland firefighter and Spring Seeker volunteer Brit Rosso takes us on a visual journey through the Southern Rincon Mountains to find Bear Spring and Grapevine Spring.  In his field notes, Brit muses about the creation of the Rincon Mountain Wilderness, a…
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