We are dedicated to healing areas impacted by the U.S.-Mexico border wall in the Sky Islands. With two-thirds of the Arizona-Sonora border now walled off with steel bollards, wildlife must range further than ever to find water and food along their historic migration routes. Access to water and healthy habitat is critical for the survival of animals unable to cross at the border, as well as for those that must travel far to get through. Below are a few of the projects we’re working on to address these issues and to help heal our beautiful borderlands.

Enhancing Ponds Within the Coronado National Forest

The Huachuca Mountains are part of the vital Path of the Jaguar corridor where jaguars and ocelots have been recently photographed near the border. To help these endangered cats and other wildlife, we’re enhancing Mesa Tank, Joaquin Tank, and Lone Mountain Tank in the Sierra Vista District to protect aquatic habitat and wildlife access to clean and reliable drinking water. These oases are nestled in oak forests near our Border Wildlife Study cameras. This project will separate cattle from the ponds with wildlife-friendly fencing to improve water quality and offer both cattle and wildlife alternative drinkers connected to the Lone Mountain well outside the pond fences. Our wildlife cameras at the ponds have detected 13 mammal species so far, including black bears and mountain lions. And they’ve documented 15 kinds of birds ranging from Gould’s turkeys to white-tailed kites. This project is supported by the Coronado National Forest and the Resource Advisory Committee of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. To learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities, please contact our Stewardship Specialist Bryon Lichtenhan

Restoring Woodlands Damaged by Shipping-Container Wall

In fall 2022, the state of Arizona illegally trespassed on Coronado National Forest lands to build a makeshift border wall with old shipping containers. The wall is gone, but the scars on the southern Huachuca Mountain landscape remain. Sky Island Alliance is planning road rewilding treatments for several segments at the border that were impacted by the shipping-container wall construction in the Sierra Vista District. These roads were decommissioned by the Forest Service prior to the illegal wall and now need much more restoration to recover the lost woodland habitat. Volunteers are needed to scout the road segments and help with road rewilding. If you have questions, please contact our Stewardship Specialist Bryon Lichtenhan

Providing Wildlife Drinkers on the San Pedro River 

The San Pedro River runs through the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts with headwaters in Sonora, Mexico. It’s a riparian ecosystem that was once part of an extensive network in the American Southwest. But due to groundwater pumping and climate change, vast stretches of the San Pedro are dry at the surface throughout the year. This project will provide water for wildlife along the San Pedro corridor that suffer from lack of surface water flow in the river and from border wall blocking their movement through the area. In this project, Sky Island Alliance, Friends of the San Pedro River, and the Bureau of Land Management will team up to improve the function of five wildlife drinkers. These water troughs were originally installed by the Bureau of Land Management with support from the Arizona Game & Fish Department. However, years of reduced staff and maintenance funding have caused drinker failure, and today four of the five water sources are dry. To repair and update the drinkers, we’ll identify the source of each failure and implement the needed fixes and make sure each source is monitored for consistent flow. Volunteer opportunities to help with this project are coming in 2024! Keep an eye on our events calendar. And if you have questions, please contact our Stewardship Specialist Bryon Lichtenhan