Author Archive

Pima County pursues new protected open spaces

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Late last year, Pima County announced a slate of new protected open space acquisitions they are pursuing with the $2 million allocated for the acquisition of conservation land in the County’s 2022-2023 budget. The open space parcels include:

  • A set of parcels next to the wildlife crossing over the CAP canal in Avra Valley;
  • A set of private inholdings on the M-Diamond Ranch in the San Pedro River valley; and
  • A small inholding on the Buckelew Farm in Avra Valley. 

Want to learn more about these parcels? Head over to this Pima County memo that includes more details about each open space acquisition and maps of the parcels adjacent to the CAP canal wildlife crossing. 

All of these new open space acquisitions are part of Pima County’s continued implementation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan

2022 Wildlife Camera Project Recap

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2022 was another successful year for our Wildlife Camera Monitoring Program, and also our 10th anniversary of this community science-based project! Big thanks to ALL the volunteers that have been the engine behind this project from day one! 

 

Oro Valley Linkage Wildlife Monitoring

This is the project that started it all, and gives us the distinction of having the oldest and longest lasting community science wildlife camera monitoring effort in southern Arizona. Today we have 24 active cameras on either side of Oracle Road, that have gathered over 300,000 images of wildlife, including a mountain lion who moved through the underpass this year. We have also identified 24 wildlife species in this area, with the addition of a black bear this past year. 

Watch a presentation about this project here.

This happy coyote was photographed near the Oracle Road wildlife underpass by our CONFORTI camera, monitored by Pat & Henry Miller.

 

Tucson Mountains Linkage Wildlife Monitoring

We have expanded this project this year, with 24 cameras on either side of I-10 between the Tucson Mountains and Tortolita Mountains, and 6 more planned to be placed in 2023. These cameras have captured nearly 124,000 wildlife photos over the life of the project! We have also identified 26 different wildlife species in this area, with the addition of the kit fox this past year.

Working with Pima County, this data is already informing a project to build a wildlife ramp from the only accessible wildlife crossings near Avra Valley Road, to provide entry into the Santa Cruz River over the water levy. We are also working on gaining permanent protection for the Tortolita Preserve, and planning a wildlife bridge over I-10 and another at Rattlesnake Pass.

Two coyote pups in the Tucson Mountains. Photo by Raynor Vandeven.

 

Sopori Ranch Linkage Wildlife Monitoring

In partnership with the Arizona Land and Water Trust, we are monitoring this linkage and using the images to promote this wild corridor. Today we have 5 cameras that have produced nearly 4,000 images and growing.

Watch a video showcasing this area here.

A deer navigating a wash in the Sopori Creek area.

 

I-10 East Linkage Wildlife Monitoring

The I-10 East project involved two seasons of roadkill surveys and two years of monitoring key culverts and bridges for wildlife use and passage rates. Exactly 45 wildlife cameras were active between January 2020 and January 2022, during which time we collected over 789,000 photos and have identified over 36 species across our 10 monitoring sites, including both mule deer and white-tail deer, Mexican opossum, black bear, mountain lion, Gould’s turkey, white-nose coati, ringtail, striped skunk, hognose skunk, hooded skunk, Western spotted skunk, and badger.

Interesting records included a photo of a bobcat carrying a bull snake in its mouth, the Mexican opossum, and images of a likely mating pair of adult mountain lions traveling together.

 This data report is being incorporated into a proposal for wildlife funnel fencing and improved underpass and bridge structures for wildlife. Pima County is also using this data to justify a funding grant to make surface water improvements near these sites, and we collaborated to submit scoping comments in October 2022 for an upcoming ADOT project to help improve the area with highest roadkill mortality in our roadkill study between mileposts 292-294.

Read the Final Report here.

A deer heads towards a wildlife underpass in the I-10 East area with the lights of cars seen above. Photo by Raynor VanDeven.

 

The latest on I-11: Lawsuit sees its first day in court

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On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker heard arguments on the federal government’s motion to dismiss a portion of our challenge to Interstate 11 filed in April 2022 in collaboration with the Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Ironwood Forest. Big thanks to the 30 Coalition supporters that showed up to support us at the hearing.

According to a press release about the hearing, “The lawsuit says the agency failed to consider other transportation alternatives, such as rail, and sidestepped the required environmental review before approving the 280-mile-long highway between Nogales and Wickenburg. The planned interstate’s west option would plow through desert wildlands in rural Avra Valley and between Saguaro National Park and Ironwood National Monument. It would disturb hundreds of archaeological and cultural sites and spread invasive buffelgrass known to fuel wildfires.” 

You can learn more at at a KVOA4 story that aired after the hearing and a KGUN 9 story that aired before the hearing. We will update you when we learn more about a timeline for Judge Hinderaker’s decision on the case.

Whatever his decision, we remain grateful for your support as we continue advocating against the West Option for Interstate 11 and for a connected and restored Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona for all. 

Want to learn about the history of Interstate 11 and ways to get involved today? Head over to our comprehensive set of webpages (also found at the top of this page under the “Our Work” tab), including a history of the planning process, a thorough list of media articles,  maps, and more. 

Join us for Environmental Lobby Day on February 7!

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Let’s tell our legislators to prioritize wildlife, people, & the planet in 2023!

On Tuesday, February 7th, come join the Coalition, Tucson Audubon Society, and over 20 other organizations for Environmental Day at the Capitol 2023! Click on this link to register for the day’s events, and click on this link to reserve a seat on our bus to Phoenix.

This annual Environmental Lobby Day, organized by the Sierra Club, will include information tables, speakers, and meetings with legislators. No previous advocacy experience needed – just your presence and your passion for the environment!

That said, if you want to hone your advocacy skills and learn more about the issues, Sierra Club is providing a great series of Zoom webinars: a Legislative Session Overview focused on Water, Climate, and Democracy tomorrow (Thursday, January 18th), a volunteer lobbying training on Thursday, January 26th, plus deeper dives into individual policy issues (topics & dates to be announced soon).

ABOUT THE BUS: We have chartered a bus for the day so we can show up in strength as a community—and limit our carbon emissions! If you’re interested in riding with us, please email Tucson Audubon Society’s Community Organizing Coordinator, isaiah kortright, at ikortright@tucsonaudubon.org and fill outhis Google Form.

The bus will depart from The Historic Y at 738 N. 5th Ave. (MAP)

  • 6:00 am: Meet at the Y for coffee and morning refreshments, final logistics, and boarding the bus
  • 6:30 am: Depart for Phoenix
  • 8:30 am – 3:00 pm: Make our voices heard at the Legislature!
  • 3:15 pm: Depart for Tucson
  • 5:00-5:30 pm (depending on traffic): Arrive back in Tucson 
  • If you’re joining us on the bus, you still need to register for lobbying here.

The safety of our community is our top priority, so we will be requiring face masks on the bus and strongly recommending them while at the Capitol. We will have extra face masks available.

Together, let’s make sure the Legislature knows what we want them to do to address water, climate, and democracy issues in 2023!

SnapShot USA in full swing

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The Snapshot USA project is a huge collaborative effort to sample mammal populations with camera traps across all of the United States. The study is designed to sample sites in all 50 states stratified across habitats and development zones (suburban/rural/wild/urban) with an objective of at least 400 “trap nights” (or days) per sub-project/ organization. 

This year we were able to contribute camera data from 12 cameras in our Oro Valley study area, for the study period of September and October.

Despite a few challenges with vegetation growth creating lots of blank images, we contributed 3,208 photos of species including javelina, jackrabbits, coyotes, bobcats, mule deer, white-tail deer… and even a surprise black bear on the MALLOW camera! The entire effort has collected photos of 384 species at over 2,000 camera sites across the U.S.

As science papers come out of this data, we will share the results and findings with you, and we look forward to contributing again next year!

Twelve wildlife camera images in a grid with the animals circled in a red, taken from a screenshot of website.

The first Tortolita BioBlitz was a huge success!

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On Saturday November 19th, 46 participants made almost 700 observations of over 135 species!

The first Tortolita Preserve BioBlitz was a huge success! What a great way to share and explore this amazing open space!

We held seven small group outings during the BioBlitz, and all the participants enjoyed getting a chance to explore with guides from Arizona Master Naturalists, Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, and Tortolita Alliance. One of the guided walks headed by CSDP’s Jessica Moreno focused on identifying animals by scat and tracks. Species identified included Grey Fox, Mule Deer, Bobcat, Coyote, and even the tiny and industrious Kangaroo Rat! Another walk conducted by Jennie McFarland from Tucson Audubon Society and Steven Prager from Audubon Southwest yielded a list of fifteen species including a Ruby-crowned Kinglet; the first time this species has been documented here on E-Bird. Another highlight was the identification of Gregg’s Nightblooming Cereus happily existing in the understory of a Palo Verde.

In addition to the outings, many people worked hard collecting observations on their own. We had several people visiting the Tortolita Preserve for the first time and others new to iNaturalist making a big contribution to the success of the event. Identifying observations made by others is another area in which our group really contributed. We had people making identifications during the BioBlitz. This is such an important part of the outreach component of iNaturalist, so a big thanks to people who worked on identifications!

Check out the project:
Tortolita Preserve Fall BioBlitz · iNaturalist

A group of people stand in a dirt parking lot waiting to hike into the desert to look for signs of wildlife.

Jessica Moreno leads a dawn wildlife track and sign survey for the Tortolita Preserve BioBlitz to a group of BioBlitzers. Sunrise really lights up those tracks! It was a cold start, but warmed up quickly.

Kit Fox: CSDP Photographs Another First

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By Jessica Moreno, Conservation Science Director

It’s late morning in early May when my phone buzzes with a text message from my friend and long-time Desert Monitor Josh Skattum. It’s a black and white photo from our “UTA” camera in the Tucson-Tortolita Mountain corridor, a blurry ghost of a fox with large, pointed ears and a small animal in its mouth, trotting swiftly through a moonless desert night. “Kit fox?,” Josh types. It looks plausible… I promise to look at it more closely and confirm.

The desert kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) has exaggerated features and could easily be included in a sci-fi wildlife field guide, fitting comfortably among the illustrations of banthas, sandworms, or tribbles. They are tiny canines, just 3.5 to 6 pounds, the weight of a full-grown Chihuahua. That small package comes with oversized 3- to 4-inch-long ears that helps dissipate the heat, a fluffy tail that nearly doubles its body length, and fur packed between their toes creating custom-made sand shoes.

Their soft sandy-colored coats are sometimes trimmed in bright rusty orange as if their edges were dyed by the desert sunset. In the moonlight, you might only glimpse pale fur and a black-tipped tail that doesn’t sport the signature bold black stripe found on the more commonly seen gray fox. But the kit fox’s delicate pointy face, bright eyes, and overlarge ears give them the same playful and mischievous countenance.

Several more nocturnal photos later, and I am more confident in my ID. Josh even documents a likely burrow site. Just to be doubly sure (and for fun), I ask for the help of Raynor Vandeven, a talented photographer who builds his own custom-made camera traps to produce incredible wildlife images. He sets out to see if he can get a more photographic image for us – with almost instant success.

These photos are the first time a kit fox has triggered one of the wildlife cameras we use to monitor the movement patterns of animals that use Pima County’s wildlife corridors. These areas tend to be the most threatened by roads and development – and also exactly the kind of low desert habitat that is preferred by kit foxes. And here they are, fulfilling their special role in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem as mesocarnivores.

A mesocarnivore is a small to mid-sized mammal that eats mostly meat (50 – 75% of their diet) but also eats other things – fruits, plants, fungi, insects – and is therefore an omnivore. Ecologically, they serve a role similar to the fewer-in-number large carnivores, like mountain lions, with some differences, such as spreading seeds that help plant dispersal, influencing disease dynamics, and being able to drive community structure (the types and number of species that live in a place and how they interact with one another). The disappearance of mesocarnivores on the landscape, both in abundance and diversity of species, is a canary in the mine for ecological health.

For their part, kit foxes primarily eat cottontail rabbits and rodents like kangaroo rats for their meat course. Very rarely they will eat the jackrabbits that complete with them for size. They will also eat carrion, birds, lizards, insects, quail eggs, saguaro fruit, prickly pear fruit, and mesquite beans. When food is plentiful, they might cache their meals by burying them, squirrel-like, and marking the spot with pee – a fox’s version of the office refrigerator lunchbox post-it note: My Lunch. Do Not Eat.

Kit foxes are solitary hunters and are often seen alone but are part of small family groups of parents and their young. Mates form a monogamous, permanent bond and both parents care for a single litter of 5 to 7 kits, or pups, that are born blind in March and April and remain in their cool den, with its keyhole-shaped entrance, until the monsoon arrives in June or July.

They can find food and mates, raise young, and disperse surprisingly long distances to new habitats – despite the challenges of mange caused by rodenticides, canine distemper and rabies, and the very pressing concerns of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and wildlife-vehicle collisions. Time will tell if rising temperatures and other threats prove too much, or are averted too late, for a species that has been with us since the Great Ice Age and survived the extinction of the larger Pleistocene megafauna.

Photo by Raynor Vandeven

 

Today these tiny, playful desert den dwellers are considered vulnerable in Arizona but do not have any protected status. Their distribution is extensive throughout the Great Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts, but populations have generally been declining by 10-30% across their range, according to data collected on NatureServe. A fox to watch. 

Our nocturnal kit foxes continue to bless the desert night with their yips, barks, and chuckles. Tonight, I allow myself to imagine that they sometimes gaze up at the stars, above the haze of nearby city lights and horizon of creosote, stars that for untold generations have been their only constant. The chuckle in the dark desert night I hear sounds like an echo of Josh’s laugh.

 

Kit fox habitat (in bright green), in eastern Pima County, along with two of our wildlife linkage study areas in the Tucson-Tortolita Mountains wildlife linkage and the Catalina-Tortolita Mountains wildlife linkage.

Desert Fence Busters tackle the Big Wash in Oro Valley

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In mid-November 2022, the Desert Fence Busters tackled a section of the Big Wash in Oro Valley. Over the course of a beautiful Saturday morning, 35 people removed 1.5 miles of old barbed-wire fencing from the wash, improving the safety of this area for both people and wildlife. The fencing added up to over 2,000 pounds of both barbed wire and t-posts. 

The Big Wash is a critical wildlife movement area between the Santa Catalina Mountains (including Catalina State Park) and the Tortolita Mountains. It is also a popular area for local hikers, wildlife watchers, and mountain bikers. Removing this fencing will allow wildlife to move more freely and safely and improve safety for nearby residents. 

The Desert Fence Busters officially formed in late 2021, but emerged from a long-time collaborative effort among a variety of public agencies and non-profits. This unique partnership began seven years ago to share information between agencies on projects centered in Avra Valley west of the Tucson Mountains. In 2021, it emerged that multiple land management agencies had outdated fencing that are impeding wildlife, with animal carcasses found hung up on barbed wire while attempting to jump or crawl through the fence. While the work of the Desert Fence Busters is largely focused in Avra Valley, it was exciting to remove old fencing from an area connected to the Oracle Road wildlife crossings and that has seen so much public investment and interest in recent years. 

Future Desert Fence Busters events will be announced on our main Desert Fence Busters webpage

Check out the slideshow below of the amazing group of volunteers that removed fencing in the Big Wash (click on the slideshow to view it in a larger format):

Remembering and Celebrating Josh

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Our community suffered a tragic loss when our first Desert Wildlife Intern and long-time volunteer Josh Skattum died tragically on October 22, 2022 after being involved in a serious car accident. 

Josh with his bright smile and his signature CSDP hard hat taking a selfie while checking wildlife cameras near I-10 East.


Josh was a force to be reckoned with, a ray of sunshine in an often dark world, and we miss him deeply. Folks have come from many different communities in Tucson and his home is Wisconsin to remember Josh and support the healing of his partner TJ. We are so grateful for this community, and for you, and are comforted to know that Josh’s light will never fade. His light and passion for life is amplified in everything we do.

Throughout his 4+ year tenure as a Coalition volunteer with his Desert Monitor teammates Sam Wilber and Courtney Neumeyer and as our intern this past fall, Josh deeply touched and impacted many of our projects and programs. Here is a sampling of how Josh positively contributed to Sonoran Desert conservation and protection:

Beginning in 2016 as our Desert Monitor “Zoo Crew” team with Sam Wilber, Josh monitored four east approach cameras on the Oracle Road wildlife bridge, helping prove the success of the first wildlife bridge in the Sonoran Desert.

Assisted staff with wildlife camera placement and deployment decisions.

Recruited and trained new Desert Monitor volunteers for our program.

Documented the first badger using the wildlife bridge after searching for badger burrows and placing a camera to confirm. Josh’s cameras were very successful at finding badgers across all of our projects.

Taught close to 1,000 kids about wildlife tracks and wildlife corridors during our Critter Cam for Kids Field Days.

Was instrumental in launching and maintaining nearly 40 cameras for our I-10 East monitoring project, which has led to conservation plans for new crossing structures and funnel fencing for black bears and other wildlife, and the expansion of our Tucson-Tortolita linkage monitoring project east of I-10.

Documented the first kit fox ever photographed on one of our cameras.

Shared an enthusiasm for documenting species using the iNaturalist app, collecting records for 91 different species (including quite a few fungi!). Explore his observations here.

Promoted our work and organization in his other social circles, inlcuding the Feminist Birding Club, the Reid Park Zoo, and Pima County Master Naturalists. Josh is one of the reasons Arizona Master Naturalists became a CSDP member group this year. 

As our first Desert Wildlife Intern, Josh came up with new ideas to improve our volunteer training and science communications, ideas which we will continue to implement, and helped put on our Volunteer Appreciation events in September.

He was a big part of the planning team for the first Tortolita Preserve Bio Blitz, held shortly after his passing. The wildlife camera dedicated in his name is located here, and collected data during the Bio Blitz in his stead. This data will be used to protect the Preserve permanently.

Josh had an incalculable impact simply by being himself: authentic, enthusiastic, kind, curious, and patient, with bright ideas and an even brighter laugh.

Josh was an inspiration to those around him in other ways too. He bravely and humbly knew the life he wanted and threw himself towards it completely. As author T.J. Klune writes, “Sometimes… you were able to choose the life you wanted. And if you were the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.”  Poet Richard Shelton writes in his poem “Desert”:

“Those who have lived here longest
and know best
are least conspicuous.
The oldest mountains are lowest
and the scorpion sleeps all day
beneath a broken stone.

If I stay here long enough
I will learn the art of silence.
When I have given up words
I will become what I have to say.”

Josh needs no more words. He lived what he had to say. He lived the life he wanted.

_____

In addition to dedicated tree and saguaro plantings, and other ways we are each remembering him, the following planned events will be held in March 2023 in his memory:

Save the Date

Saturday March 4th
Join family and friends for a celebration of life event and hike in Sabino Canyon

 

Sunday March 5th
Bench and brick dedication event at the Reid Park Zoo

 

_____


If you want to do something in Josh’s memory yourself, here are some ideas:

Share photos and stories with us to include in a memory scrapbook

Curl up and read one of Josh’s latest favorite cozy fantasy books,
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Kline
.

Raise a toast with Josh’s favorite iced lavender americano with oat milk, or an expresso,
and a jalapeño cheddar cream cheese bagel from his favorite Tucson coffee stop, The Coffee Exchange.

Visit the Reid Park Zoo and tell the Sun Bear that Josh says hello.

Rekindle your wonder and excitement in nature, and build your own iNaturalist or eBird observation list.
Teach a friend what you learn.

Live your life as Josh did: with joy and authenticity.

Drive with greater patience, kindness, and awareness, because every car on the road carries someone who is loved.

 

_____

When Josh joined our staff as our first Desert Wildlife Intern in August 2022, he shared the following bio for our website, which we want to preserve here:

I first started to expand on my passion and interest surrounding wildlife conservation during my undergrad studies at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point where I studied Wildlife Research and Management, Biology, and Captive Wildlife Management. This academic setting led me into discovering the empowering experience of being involved in volunteer fueled non-profits that engage their local communities in land stewardship, environmental education, and community science.

This passion continued on as I relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2018 as I pursued my wildlife career as a zookeeper while also jumping into the Community Science Desert Wildlife Program for the Coalition as a Pima County Master Naturalist (PCMN). One of my service projects as a Master Naturalist is contributing towards the Coalition’s research on how wildlife linkages between our sky islands are impacted by roads and infrastructure. This project started with volunteering alongside PCMN Sam W, maintaining wildlife cameras at three sites: the Oro Valley wildlife overpass location, along I-10 (outside of Cienega Creek and Davidson Canyon), and now currently outside of the Tucson Mountains. When I’m not checking wildlife cameras, I also serve on the PCMN Board as the Communications Committee Chair. Within this role I help create an inclusive environment while sharing the Cultural and Natural history of Arizona as well as our Pima County Master Naturalist’s experiences and volunteer work. Arizona is such an incredibly diverse landscape filled with so many incredible people! I’m excited to see how this desert internship interfaces with both wildlife science and science communication! 

_____

Josh was a Desert Monitor for so many of our cameras over the years that we have many candid photos of him checking cameras, along with a variety of other photos out volunteering in the desert and the community. We’ve put these photos together into the slideshow below (click on the slideshow below to make it bigger): 

 

Finally, in November 2022, we placed a new wildlife camera named for Josh, the SKATTUM camera, in the Tortolita-Tucson Mountains wildlife linkage. On the ID tag for the camera, Jessica Moreno, our Conservation Science Director, stamped in the quote, “Some bring a light so great that even after they are gone, the light remains.” The photos below are of our staff setting up Josh’s camera in a beautiful stretch of Sonoran Desert at the Tortolita Preserve, along with the first wildlife photos captured by the camera (click on the slideshow below to make it bigger). 

2022 Volunteer Awards

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Join us in celebrating our volunteers!

(Awardees are listed in no particular order)

 

Volunteer of the Year
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
in as many varied and worthy ways as there are species in the desert.
Virgil Swadley

Desert Tortoise Decade Award
In recognition of achieving 10 years of volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
and having earned the steadfast wisdom and momentum of a desert tortoise now entering its prime.
Virgil Swadley, Keith Kleber, Kathie Schroeder, Richard Sauer, Barbara Rose, Clive Probert,
Carl Boswell, Margie O’Hare, Terry Minks, Craig Lecroy, Peggy Hughes, Jan Cratty

Fifth Season in the Desert Award
In recognition of 5 years of volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection, an achievement as
welcome to desert dwellers as the monsoon season that thunders in after the hot, dry summer.
Don Broomall, Mike Froenher, Chuck & Mary Graf, Jefferson Stensrud, Pat & Henry Miller,
Frank Pitts, Evelyn Richards

Crepuscular Bobcat Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection, exceeding 50 hours
of time and skill in the last year, as active as a bobcat roaming morning, noon, and night.
Keith Kleber, Christine DeMatteo, Barbara Rose, Virgil Swadley

Jackrabbit of all Trades Award

In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
performing two or more different volunteer roles in the last year.
Christine DeMatteo, Jane “Middy” Henke, Josh Skattum, Virgil Swadley

Cactus Bee Achievement Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
repairing and building wildlife cameras from spare parts with all the skill of a solitary cactus bee
constructing nests with nothing more than homemade adobe, salvaged cactus pollen, and nectar. 
 Don Broomall, Chuck Graf, Aiden Doherty

Desert Deer Identification Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
sharpening your skills as an expert in Odocoileus species identification.
 Jane “Middy” Henke

Desert Roadies Roadkill Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
as the only person other than my children able to help me (Jessica Moreno)
complete roadkill surveys during state curfews and a pandemic.

Eduardo Moreno

Harris’s Hawk Teamwork Award
In recognition of seamless volunteer teamwork in service of Sonoran Desert protection,
an achievement as outstanding as a group Harris’s hawks cooperatively back-standing one on top of the other.

UA Environmental Law Society, UA Ramblers Club, Team DEER (Terry Minks, Margie O’Hare, Harold Wood),
Team THRASHER (Mike Froenher, Carol Bull, Dean Chapman, Vicki Ettleman)

Cactus Wren Advocate Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
advocating for smart decision-making with all the enthusiasm and passion of a calling cactus wren.
 Barbara Rose, Gay Russell, Pat Miller

Muddy Mud Turtle Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
navigating floods, mud, and other challenges in wildlife camera rescue.
Samantha Wilber, Aiden Doherty, Charles “Butch” Farabee, Pat McGowan, Gary & Lenora Brown, Diana Holmes

Javelina Squadron Leader Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
passing on your knowledge as a mentor and instructor, like the intrepid leader of a squadron of javelina.
Josh Skattum, Samantha Wilber, Mike Froenher, Vicki Ettleman, Kathie Schroeder, Terry Minks, Margie O’Hare,
Charles “Butch” Farabee, Pat McGowan, Carl Boswell, Christine DeMatteo

Bighorn Sheep Pathfinder Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
traversing over rough terrain, changing elevations, and long distances off-trail to reach disparate sites
and scout new locations, sometimes crossing mountain ranges like a bighorn setting off on a long journey.
Keith Kleber, Carl Boswell, Josh Skattum, Samantha Wilber, Josh Skattum, Ken Lamberton, Peter Vollmer

Exploring Mountain Lion Award
In recognition of your fearless volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
that you began during a global pandemic, much like a dispersing mountain lion seeking
new adventures in the face of the unknown.
 Patty Stern, Gay Russell, Scott Compton, David Rezits, Amy Pearse, Laurie & Bill Andel,
Harold Wood, Petra Gee, Robert Morse, Robert & Debra Kellerman, Zoe Benson, Kevin Kasper, John Hunt,
Darya Anderson, Taylor Macy, Michael Concincini, Brooke Caruthers, Maggie Pitts

Giant Crab Spider Award
In recognition of gentle and fearless volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
in the face of surprise spiders, insects, beetles, egg sacks, lizards, and snakes while opening your camera boxes.
 Henry Miller, Keith Kleber, Virgil Swadley, Christine DeMatteo, Vicki Ettleman, Kristi Lewis,
Lisa Caprina & Doug Vollgraff

Clay-colored Sparrow Naturalist Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection
while also using your wildlife observations in the field to add to our knowledge of nature.
Andres & Ruben Martinez, Alan & Karen Dahl, Josh Skattum, Courtney Neumeyer, Ken Lamberton

Innovative Coyote Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
taking initiative to offer new techniques, data, and ideas to further our conservation efforts.
 Matt Clark, Bruce Jacobsen, Josh Skattum, Raynor Vandeven

Home Sweet Home Creosote Award
In recognition of outstanding volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
working out of your home during a global pandemic, like a thriving solitary creosote
whose root system inhibits the growth of nearby plants around it to maintain social distancing.

Harriet Cowper, Lois Richardson, Gay Russell, Lainie, Gene McCormick, Joanne Devereau,
Peggy Hughes, Jefferson Stensrud, Kent Gearhiser, Mary Graf, Jeena Davidson, Jennifer Curtis,
Marcy Tigerman, Amy Rule, Breanne Quattlander

Spadefoot Patience Award
In recognition of steadfast volunteer service for Sonoran Desert protection by
maintaining the patience of an estivating spadefoot waiting to leap into action once I finally get back to you.
 This one goes to all our volunteers, with special call outs to:
Gay Russell, Lois Richardson, Gene McCormick, Virgil Swadley