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July 2020

The Current

e-News from Friends of Sonoita Creek
Keep it Flowing
Kathy West reports that one of the eight cottonwoods FoSC planted along Sonoita Creek in 2016 is still alive!
The photo shows Marty Lawrence, the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve manager, standing behind it. That's a cottonwood that wouldn't be there were it not for the efforts of FoSC.  It is not making a political statement, but it is left leaning.

Where are the weeds at Patagonia Lake State Park?  Mowed!

Two intrepid Friends of Sonoita Creek, John Hughes and Joe Watkins, tackled cockleburs (Xanthium strumarium), a member of the sunflower family, at Patagonia Lake State Park.  While the best method to control cockleburs is to pull them, the extent of the infestation on the birding trail at the Park rendered this technique impossible. Extensive grazing by cattle has spread this pesky species to the point where some previously excellent viewing areas are all but obscured.  Joe and John mowed and weed trimmed the meadow around the large willow and an area through the trees towards the lake; their objective being to determine whether this technique will be effective at controlling the plant’s growth enough to warrant large scale eradication efforts by cutting.
And more of the weeds you would have tramped through while birding at the east end of Patagonia Lake before the clearing.  Thank you for your work, Joe and John.

Monitoring Agaves to save the bats

Friends of Sonoita Creek members have joined efforts to study the flowering phenology of local agaves (Agave palmeri and Agave parryi). Last year Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) put out a call to join the Flowers for Bats campaign, an effort where citizen scientists venture into the field to monitor the flowering of agave to determine if their flowering cycle is changing due to climate change. The agaves are an important food source for migrating Lesser Long-nosed Bats (Leptonycteris yerbaburenae). This species of bats was recently removed from the threatened species list, but its long-term survival is still threatened due to habitat destruction, the over-harvesting of wild agave for mescal and climate change. The project is run through The National Phenology Network and provides the information to the National Forest Service. If interested in participating, contact Francesca Clavirie at BRN or Erin Posthumus,  John Hughes is pictured doing his surveys.

Go to the Tucson Audubon Fall Birding Festival--Virtually

(Note that 50% of $20 registration comes back for conservation work at Sonoita Creek.)

Luke Safford invites us to  join Tucson Audubon for the Virtual Southeast Arizona Birding Festival, August 5-7. We have been working on some ideas of what a virtual festival could entail and I'm excited to share our plans with you. We want to keep it simple and purposeful, with two main goals:
    •    Stick with our plan of emphasizing our Conservation Focus of the Sonoita Creek Watershed in the Patagonia area
    •    Connect with our festival family of sponsors, exhibitors, leaders, volunteers, and registrants
Utilizing Zoom, we will have 7 virtual events through Wed. Aug 5 - Fri. Aug 7, including two tours highlighting birding/conservation, a session on "Learning Bird Songs" with Tom Stephenson (co-author of the Warbler Guide), a forum on "Birdability" and making birding more inclusive and accessible for the mobility-challenged, and three interactive socials. An all-inclusive pass to these events will be offered to participants for a $20 registration fee, with half of these proceeds designated for conservation work in the Sonoita Creek Watershed, and registered folks will also be given a 2 day early bird pass for 2021 festival registration.  More Details in Luke's letter 
Link to Poster

Learn a bit more about new board members

Dave Christiana is a retired hydrogeologist now living at Lake Patagonia Ranch.  He has 27 years experience in environmental consulting and government service.  He retired from the Arizona Department of Water Resources where he worked in aquifer recharge, wells and permitting, and riparian conservation. He earned a Masters Degree in Hydrology from the University of Arizona and has had a special affinity to Sonoita Creek since he was a graduate student.  Dave became a Friend of Sonoita Creek in 2019, and joined the Board in 2020.  He obtained training in Rapid Stream and Riparian Assessment with the Friends and has participated in assessments along Sonoita Creek upstream from the State Park and in the Nature Conservancy Preserve. 

Kathy West has a B.S in Forest Management from Washington State University and a certificate in Permaculture Design from Antioch University. She also volunteered for the children’s nature program at Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, led bird walks for the Seattle Mountaineers Natural World course and has volunteered for wildlife rehab and various animal rescue organizations.
After retiring in 2015 she moved to Patagonia and started volunteering at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. It soon became apparent how important Sonoita Creek is to the area’s flora and fauna and that the creek needs protecting. Kathy is excited to be a part of the FoSC whose mission it is to protect this rare perennial stream and surrounding habitat.
Other members of the FoSC Board are Robert Proctor, Cholla Nicholl, Andy Gould, John Hughes, Greg Scott, Barbara Casimir, and Sally Lockwood. 

Update from Cholla

Cholla has been staying busy checking multiple wildlife cameras for the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve and the TNC Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve. Having a bored 9 year old home from school and normal summer activities has been a challenge but also an opportunity to educate on what wildlife lives in the area. Cholla is looking forward to safely visiting family in the future and is grateful to be employed and healthy.

Some photos from summer in southern AZ

U of A 2019 Water Resources Report

Check out the recently published Water Resources Report at

FYI:  More Cancellations

Both the Santa Cruz County Fair and the Patagonia Fall Festival have announced they are cancelling their events this fall. 
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