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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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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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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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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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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Notes from the Field: Round River Conservation Studies Sky Island Semester

February 18, 2021

After spending the last few months planning for the Round River Conservation Studies (RRCS) first ever semester in the Sky Islands, I was ecstatic to finally spend time with them in the field over the past couple weeks. RRCS is an ecological research and education organization dedicated to conservation strategies that are sustainable and tied…
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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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