Field Notes

The First Sky Island FotoFauna Insights into Wildlife of the Region

April 1, 2021

It’s here—our first look at how the diversity of mammals and birds is distributed across the Sky Island region! Since launching Sky Island FotoFauna in October 2020, volunteers and organizations in Mexico and the U.S. have contributed nearly 450 monthly checklists from this growing network of cameras. Each checklist adds another piece to the regional wildlife puzzle—helping us see more clearly where wildlife species are present and absent each month across the landscape. We want to understand the distribution of a…
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Notes from the Field: Van Trap and Chimney Spring in the Southern Rincon Wilderness

March 29, 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 wildland firefighter Brit Rosso is one of our steadfast Spring Seeker volunteers. Not only is he dedicated to hiking rough terrains…
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Protecting Dark Skies Along the U.S.-Mexico Border

March 26, 2021

Dark skies are a remarkable feature of the Sky Island region. When true darkness blankets the landscape at night, it provides spectacular views of the stars and high–quality nocturnal habitat for numerous migrating and resident wildlife species.  Lighting along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of any border infrastructure system stands to disrupt the health and ecology of a tremendous number of species. In our Border Wildlife Study, we’ve found that…
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Community’s Choice: The Best 18 FotoFauna Photos of Winter 2021

Our December FotoFauna photo contest was so much fun—with everyone cracking wildlife jokes and enjoying exciting regional photos—that we decided to do it all over again! This time, the Sky Island FotoFauna network helped us whittle over 1,000 submissions down to 54 finalists across 18 categories: some new and some fan favorites returning from last…
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We’re Rooting for Native Flora at Aravaipa Canyon Preserve!

March 22, 2021

In early March, a team of six volunteers and three Sky Island Alliance staff braved the chilly spring evenings at Aravaipa Canyon Preserve to do two days of hard, earnest work: pull invasive periwinkle from the creek bed.  The nine of us spent over ten hours total that weekend bent over the cool Arizona water, which felt good in the sun as we loosened vinca from the hard…
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Actualización del Programa: El Estudio de la Fauna de la Frontera llega a su meta Primero Año

March 18, 2021

La semana pasada era monumental para nosotros. Exactamente hace un año, nuestra red de cameras comenzó a documentar la comunidad de fauna silvestre a lo largo de la frontera de México y Estados Unidos. En loa días que instalamos las cámaras y las dejamos para operar todos los días y las noches, en verdad no sabíamos…
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A Sampling of Flora in the San Rafael Valley: Shrubs

March 12, 2021

In A Sampling of Flora in the San Rafael Valley: Grasses, I mentioned how I’d recently picked up a plant identification book after years of slowly falling in love with the different flora that grows in this region. Part of this decision was thanks to first time I’d gone out into the field with our Springs Specialist, Sami Hammer,…
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Border Wildlife Study Hits 1-Year Milestone

March 11, 2021

This week is monumental for us. Exactly one year ago, our Border Wildlife Study camera array began clicking away to document the wildlife community along the U.S.-Mexico border. At the time we set the cameras up and left them to operate day and night, we truly didn’t know what the year would bring. In the following months, the pandemic changed our personal and professional lives, the…
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Reversing the Damage of the Border Wall: New Issues and New Resources

March 2, 2021

Although Biden’s presidential proclamation to pause wall construction was welcome news, it has not been the policy fix we had hoped for. In the Sky Island region, construction continued right up to and—in some locations like the Pajarito Mountains—past the 7-day period given to contractors to wind down their operations.  And now, although wall construction has stopped in most places, road construction continues in the remote Pajarito Mountains where partners have documented active bulldozing. Because the work…
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A Sampling of Flora in the San Rafael Valley: Grasses

February 26, 2021

I’ve always loved plants, but it wasn’t until I adopted a vegan diet that I started to see plants as separate from each other instead of one big sea with fifty shades of green (or uninspiring brown, depending on the time of year). After moving to the Sky Island region from Minnesota, where everything is either very green or covered in snow, I was…
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