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Avra Valley Fence Removal Volunteer Days

A new collaborative conservation project has started in Tucson’s west valley to improve and enhance wildlife movement between natural areas by removing miles of deadly fencing barriers. After a unique partnership began seven years ago to share information between agencies on projects centered in Avra Valley west of the Tucson Mountains, it recently emerged that multiple land management agencies had outdated fencing that are impeding wildlife, with animal carcasses found hung up on barbed wire while attempting to jump or crawl through the fence.

In response to this problem, in December 2021, 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 northern Avra Valley. 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. 

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.”

“Some of these fences have been around for a hundred years and have no current purpose,” said Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the conservation group Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “But what they do is block the movement of wildlife throughout the landscape.”

A second volunteer event was held in February 2022 through the National Park Service where a group of volunteers removed a section of fencing within the national park. You can see photos of this event on Facebook.  

A third event was held March 10-12, 2022 in southern Avra Valley near Three Points where 4,300 pounds – or almost 2 tons – of barbed wire and fencing materials were removed from the landscape. 

Volunteers are joining up from a suite of agencies and NGOs, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, National Park Service, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Mule Deer Foundation, BKW, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.  

Interested in joining a future volunteer event? Please submit your contact information through this online form and we will be in touch with details when the next event is scheduled! 

Check out photos below from the December 2021 and March 2022 fence removal volunteer events to get an idea of what this type of volunteering entails:

Media

National Park Service press release for February 2022 event – February 2022 

Groups ripping out old barbed wire that blocks wildlife movement west of Tucson – AZ Daily Star, March 5, 2022

Press Release for March 10-12, 2022 event – March 7, 2022

Miles of barbed wire removed to save wildlife – KOLD13, March 10, 2022

Volunteers get rid of fences that may harm wildlife near Three Points – KVOA4, March 10, 2022