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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

SR77 Wildlife Gate and Fencing Ribbon Cutting Event

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On April 19, 2023, the Town of Oro Valley hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the culmination of a years-long collaboration between the Town, surrounding neighbors and regional partners to preserve scenic views, fix fencing gaps, and protect wildlife along SR 77 near the wildlife crossings.


Pat Miller, a CSDP Desert Monitor volunteer and a local resident involved with the project, took this photo of the completed wildlife gate at Big Wash Overlook Place, one of two automatic gates installed near the wildlife underpass.


“This has been quite an effort on the part of groups with a wide variety of needs. Biologists, government agencies, and wildlife connectivity advocates were at odds with Oro Valley residents’ concerns about scenic views at the start of this project, with no solution seemingly possible. But collaboration won the day, with groups working literally for years to find a solution that works for both wildlife and residents. Today is a celebration of that effort,” said CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell

An artistic rendering of the new wildlife gates from 2021.


CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell speaks at the ribbon cutting for the Oracle Road wildlife gates and fencing. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley. 


The new wildlife gates in action. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley. 


Community partners celebrate the official completion and opening of the Oracle Road wildlife gates. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley.


About the project
The gate and fence project was funded by the Pima Association of Governments/Regional Transportation Authority (PAG/RTA). The Town of Oro Valley served as project administrator, with work done by AECOM, Sellers & Sons, Inc., Ninyo & Moore and Tucson Electric Power.

As part of the SR 77 road widening project improvements, game fences had been installed on both sides of the SR 77 corridor from Tangerine Road to the Pinal County line. In this area, a 10-foot-high fence was initially planned to be installed on the back side of homes along the Big Wash. This would route wildlife to the previously established SR 77 wildlife crossings. However, residents in the area expressed a desire to see wildlife from their homes, and not look at a tall game fence. The Town of Oro Valley and PAG/RTA worked with neighbors, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection to make changes to the existing fence and add gates across the roads to prevent wildlife from dangerously crossing SR 77, keeping wildlife in the Big Wash wildlife corridor.

“Oro Valley takes great pride in our natural open spaces and wildlife,” said Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield. “While building upon a previously established wildlife route, this project is truly a group effort to find solutions to protect wildlife without compromising our scenic views. We are grateful for the residents, conservation groups and regional partners who share our community’s values and collaborated with the Town of Oro Valley on this wonderful project.”

The SR 77 Wildlife Bridge was the first of its kind in Southern Arizona when construction finished in 2016. The bridge provides a safe crossing over SR 77 for wildlife including bobcats, desert tortoises and mule deer. One mile to the south, a large wildlife underpass provides another safe crossing point; the underpass is located adjacent to new wildlife gates and fencing. Regional conservation groups now monitor wildlife near the bridge and underpass using cameras.

“The wildlife fencing project has been ongoing since 2016 and has been a collaborative effort between the homeowners, the Town of Oro Valley, the RTA, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The gates and gap wildlife fencing should serve well to protect animals from entering Oracle Road and to use the animal underpass. Congratulations to all for this wonderful outcome,” said Pat Miller, a resident who has been involved in this project.

[Adapted from a Town of Oro Valley press release issued on April 7, 2023]

Celebration of Life and Hike and Memorial for Josh Skattum

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Please join us Saturday 3/4/23 at Sabino Canyon to remember and celebrate our friend and colleague Josh Skattum. We’ll walk in our tie-dyed shirts to the Cactus Picnic Area to gather and share our stories and favorite moments with Josh. Josh’s family will be joining us from Wisconsin and would love the opportunity to meet Josh’s Tucson community and hear more about his time in our lives.

The Coalition is putting together a scrapbook of his adventures with us to give to Josh’s parents. We invite you to bring a photo, trinket, or written story/memory you might have of Josh to add to this gift. Our goal is to give them a chapter of Josh’s, one they can enjoy again and again once they’re back home in Wisconsin.

After we gather for the memorial, we invite folks to hike back to the Visitor’s Center along the Esperero Trail or extend your time in the canyon with one of the many other trails available. Sabino Canyon was one of Josh’s favorite places and he visited to explore often, we couldn’t think of a better place to gather and celebrate him.

What: Josh Skattum Celebration of Life Hike and Remembrance
When: Saturday March 4, 2023 at 10am
Where: Sabino Canyon – meet at the open ramada in front of the Visitor’s Center. Look for the Coalition staff and others in their blue tie-dyed shirts.

Please Note:
*Parking at Sabino Canyon is $8 per vehicle, please consider carpooling if you can.
*Light refreshments will be provided and there will be water to refill water bottles.
*Bring a hat, water bottle, and good walking shoes.
*The ramada will provide shade for our gathering.
*There are restroom accommodations in the Cactus Picnic area.

You are also welcome to RSVP for the event and share more widely with your circles at this Facebook event although it is totally optional. 

If you have any questions or need anything further information, please reach out to Whelan at


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 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!

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.

Join us for the Tortolita BioBlitz!

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In partnership with Town of Marana Parks & Recreation, Arizona Master Naturalists, the Tortolita Alliance, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and others, we are hosting the first annual BIOBLITZ for Tortolita Preserve. Help us photograph and record as many plant and animal observations in one day as we can! How many species will we find? This data will help us protect this special place, currently a preserve under a long-term (but not permanent) lease from State Lands.

What is a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz an event to inventory as many species as possible in a specific area during a specific time frame. Using apps like iNaturalist and eBird on smartphones, community scientists and biologists alike can collect high quality data by snapping pictures of wildlife and plants and having those observations verified by others. Data collected during a BioBlitz can be used to gain a stronger understanding of the ecosystem and may inform future research and management decisions. A BioBlitz is also an important opportunity for community members to learn about plants and wildlife, gain data collection skills, and build a stronger connection to the landscape.

One bobcat track in dirt with a tracking ID sheet next to it for scale

Bobcat tracks


Interested in volunteering? Sign up today at the event webpage for free for the time slot and distance that works for you!

CSDP’s Conservation Science Director Jessica Moreno will be leading the “Tracks, Scat, and Sign Survey” at 7am. That specific event sign-up can be found here

This is a family friendly event!

Questions? Contact Jessica at or leave us a message at (520) 388-9925!

A saguaro looms over the loop trail around the Tortolita Preserve.

Join us in removing old fencing and improving wildlife connectivity in Avra Valley!

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Join us this week to remove old fencing and improve wildlife connectivity between the Tucson Mountains and the Tohono O’odham Nation!


This past December, over 65 volunteers came together one morning to remove three miles of old fencing, including three tons of fence posts and wire fencing, from an area in Avra Valley west of the Tucson Mountains. Removing this fencing is important to improve the critical wildlife linkage areas between Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and the Tohono O’odham Nation.  And now this collaborative project is moving forward with another opportunity to pitch in and remove even more fencing!

The details

When: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – March 10, 11, and 12

Time: 8am-12pm, 12pm lunch (will be provided), Afternoon flexible

Where: Avra Valley area near Three Points (more detailed instructions on exactly where to meet will be sent out to volunteers after they sign up)

What to bring: Water bottle, work gloves, sturdy shoes, sun hat, etc. (again, more details to follow)

How to sign up: Head over to this GoogleForm to sign up

According to Don Swann, a biologist at Saguaro National Park, “Many studies have shown that barbed wire fences can stop large animals, change their movement patterns, and keep them away from water and food sources they need to survive. Animals can also be killed trying to jump over a barbed wire fence if they become entangled and are not able to free themselves.” 

You can sign up for one, two, or all three days! All you need to do is sign up through our online form.

To see a slideshow and learn more about the December 2021 event and what’s in store for the March 2022 event, head over to this recent blog post on our website

Questions? Feel free to reach out to CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell at or leave a voicemail at (520) 388-9925 and we’ll get back with you ASAP. 

Avra Valley Fence Removal Volunteer Day a Big Success!

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On December 11, 2021, a group of local organizations and state/federal agencies came together to celebrate National Public Lands Day by holding a Fence Removal Volunteer Day in Avra Valley. It was a wonderfully cool day with volunteers in high spirits to accomplish something tangible and positive for wildlife. 

A few fun stats from this great event:

  • Over 65 volunteers, a group from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) program, and staff from Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service joined together for the project. 
  • 3 miles of fence were removed from the landscape in one morning.
  • 3 tons of metal, including fence posts and wire fencing, were hauled away.

This is a fantastic start to improving the permeability of the landscape for wildlife movement between the Tucson Mountains, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Pima County open space lands, and more. And a big thanks to the Coalition volunteers that came out and volunteered their time – we are so thankful for you. 

This is the first of a few Fence Removal Volunteer Days – we plan to hold one to two more this winter and spring so keep your eye out for more details. We’d love to have you join in on the next event! 

Thank you to all the organizations that helped make this event possible, including Friends of Ironwood Forest, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Saguaro National Park/National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, American Conservation Experience, Pima County, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Mule Deer Foundation. 

Photos below are courtesy Carolyn Campbell and Lee Pagni. 

Join us for a new Desert Excursions field trip on March 21 or March 30!

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Would you be interested in going on a field trip to learn about one of the Coalition’s programs, meet some great people, and get outside into our beautiful Sonoran Desert for a morning or evening?

We’d love to have you join us on two field trips being offered on Saturday, March 21 and Monday, March 30. See below for details! 

Field trip options include:


Saturday, March 21, 10am-12pm

What does it take to build a wildlife crossing? In 2016, the Oracle Road wildlife crossings were closed to the public to allow wildlife freedom to roam – and wow, did they! We will have a chance to make a special visit to the bridge and underpass so you can get a critter’s perspective on this landscape-level link that connects the Catalina and Tortolita mountains. We will check a nearby wildlife camera to see what has been passing through, examine wildlife tracks, describe our future native plant restoration plans, and share the most exciting results we have to date. We’ll end with an optional lunch at a nearby locally owned eatery. Maximum 8 people. Optional lunch afterwards.

A field trip to the Oracle Road wildlife underpass with community partners.   



Monday, March 30, 5-7pm

Come along for a relaxing evening with Coalition staff on the northwest side of Tucson as we explore the Cortaro Road and Ina Road bat project. Conservation Science Director Jessica Moreno will show us how to identify wildlife tracks along the Santa Cruz River, where we may see sign of bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, and even badger. Get crafty and make your own plaster cast of your favorite animal track to take home. We will visit the bat boxes and talk about why they are the most successful man-made bat habitats in the country to date. At dusk, we can sit back and enjoy your drink of choice while watching the spectacular bat outflight against a backdrop of the glorious desert sunset. Maximum 8 people. Family friendly, kids welcome! 

Local bats take flight at dusk. Photo by Jessica Moreno.


CSDP supporters Caleb Pocock, Megan Kettner, Susan Husband, and Carol Foster on a Bats & Tracks field trip to the Ina Road bat boxes with CSDP Conservation Science Director Jessica Moreno in December 2019. 


If you are interested in any of the above field trips, please fill out this brief SURVEY to let us know which trips you are interested in attending. Field trips will be filled on a first come, first serve basis and the RSVP deadline is Wednesday, March 18. After you fill out the survey, we will send you a personal email to confirm your attendance on the field trip. We can’t wait to get to know you more out in the field!

2019 Critter Cam Field Day a success!

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Coalition volunteer Craig Civalier leads a group of elementary school children on a guided hike to learn more about Sonoran Desert wildlife at Catalina State Park in March 2019 during our second Critter Cam Field Day for Kids.


In early March 2019, the Coalition’s second annual Critter Cam Field day took place at Catalina State Park, serving over 400 local children. Thanks to an amazing team of volunteers, the activities went off without a hitch! Coalition volunteer Craig Civalier wrote the poem below in celebration of the day – thanks so much Craig!


Critter Cam Day

The kids were good today,

Buzzing round like bees,

Ran out of pencils,

Borrowed my pen,


Burrows in C4, ha-ha,

Microclimate close to the ground,

Water in D3,

Invasive species on the trail,


On to the critter cameras

Funny faces for evermore,

Weathered rock in C2,

Crumbled in your hand,


Butterflies keeping score,

This tree is your family,

Praying mantis ponds,

Scattered in the bush,


Handed thank you notes,

By three young girls,

Please take up science,

And save the planet.


© Craig Civalier 


Coalition volunteer Jefferson Stensrud lead students on a guided nature hike to learn about desert wildlife and check out one of our “Critter Cams” set up in the field.

Coalition Program and Operations Manager Whelan shows local students how to use a spotting scope to view Pusch Ridge and the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Coalition volunteer Kathie Schroeder and her hawk Sueño were an amazing addition to the Critter Cam Field Day for kids. Thank you Kathie and Sueño for all your energy and enthusiasm!

Coalition Conservation Science Director Jessica Moreno engages students with a hands-on lesson about pheromones.

Local elementary school children work on an activity learning about wildlife tracks and tracking in the beautiful desert of Catalina State Park.


A huge THANK YOU to all our partners that helped make the 2019 Critter Cam Field Day for Kids a huge success, including:

Catalina Foothills School District (especially teachers Charlotte Ackerman and Kelly Taylor)

Arizona Game and Fish Department (Mark Hart)

Tucson Audubon Society

Sky Island Alliance (Bryon Lichtenhan)

Kathie Schroeder

Kris Brown aka Mr. Pack Rat

Coalition volunteers Jefferson Stensrud, Craig Civalier, Keith Kleber, Josh Skattum, Margie O’Hare, Carl Boswell, Axhel Munoz, and Kate Randall

Pima County Master Naturalists volunteers Peggy Ollerhead, Vicki Ettleman, Josh Skattum, Kathleen Sudano, and Melissa Loeschen

Catalina State Park

All the parents chaperones

The students for their never-ending curiosity and enthusiasm


Have a Beer for a Bighorn on November 18th!

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The Coalition, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society are hosting a fun event on November 18, 2017 to support Ironwood Forest National Monument. Will you join us in having a beer for a bighorn? 

What: Have a Beer for a Bighorn Event

When: November 18, 2017, 3-7pm

Where: Dragoon Brewing Company, 1859 W. Grant Rd., #111

Details: There will be information available about Ironwood Forest National Monument, food trucks, brewery tours, snacks, and a slide show!

A pdf flyer about the event can be downloaded here. Please share with your friends and other community members who care about the Ironwood Forest National Monument! 

We hope to see you there!