Border wall construction has cut off two-thirds of the Arizona-Sonora connection and severely damaged habitats and waterways. Many wildlife species are now stopped in their tracks along pathways they’ve traveled for millennia to find water, food, shelter, and mates.
Now more than ever we must ensure that water flows and native species have habitat for survival at the border. That’s why Sky Island Alliance has been investing in the following:
- Providing drinkable water for wildlife that must now travel many miles to find water across the border;
- Habitat-enhancement projects that prevent soil erosion;
- Wildlife-friendly fence projects that protect springs and other sensitive habitats from cattle trampling; and
- Returning native plants to the landscape.
Huachuca Mountains Pond Enhancement
The southern Huachuca Mountains in southeast Arizona are home to a rich diversity of wildlife that need access to clean, reliable water. This area is designated critical habitat for jaguars and other threatened species like Chiricahua leopard frogs, northern Mexican garter snakes, and Mexican long-tongued bats. Climate change and intensifying drought have increased demand on these water sources from both wildlife and cattle in the area. We’re partnering with the Coronado National Forest to enhance the three ponds and ensure wildlife’s survival.
Specifically our project aims to enhance water quality and habitat at three ponds located within eight miles of the U.S.-Mexico border and in the heart of a major wildlife corridor. While Lone Mountain Tank, Mesa Tank, and Joaquin Tank are mostly fenced today, repairs are needed to move livestock further away. This will improve water quality, allow for regrowth of native vegetation, and recover soil that’s been compacted. Once the cattle are excluded, these three ponds will naturally recover and become candidates for the introduction of Chiricahua leopard frogs and Gila topminnows.
Our project will also improve water supply by connecting these three ponds to a permanent water source at Lone Mountain Well. Each pond will receive a new water storage tank and trough that’ll provide year-round water to both cattle and wildlife. Safety ramps will be installed to aid safe access for species that are vulnerable to drowning in artificial troughs.
Rancho Los Fresnos
Sky Island Alliance has collaborated with Mexican nonprofit Naturalia, A.C. for years to advance conservation at Rancho Los Fresnos, a protected ranch in the southern foothills of the Huachuca Mountains. Los Fresnos contains one of the largest and most important ciénegas in the region, with 155 acres of critical wetland habitat and 10,000 acres of grassland in the upper San Pedro Watershed. Naturalia is a partner of our Border Wildlife Study, operating 10 wildlife cameras in Mexico.
Recent habitat enhancement projects on the border at Rancho Los Fresnos include:
- Installation of fencing to protect 155 acres of wetlands from livestock trampling and help trees and plants regrow. The fencing allows other wildlife to safely access water.
- Conducting surveys around the ciénega to identify native and invasive plants in the area.
- Planting more than 3,000 starts and constructing a greenhouse to further grow native plant species that’ll increase the area’s biodiversity.
- Creation of erosion-control structures at four sites to stabilize soil affected by ranching.