Borderlands Restoration Network was honored to receive a $245,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation Fund with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to fund critical ecological restoration work along the path of the jaguar in Southeastern Arizona. WCS's goal is to conserve the world's largest wild places in 14 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world's biodiversity. The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund strives to increase the pace and scale of impact in climate adaptation for wildlife, ecosystems, and the people who depend on them by increasing innovation, accelerating learning, and mainstreaming proven adaptation approaches.
During 2021 - 2022 BRN performed restoration work in and around the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve. This area is a critical migratory pathway for large mammals such as black bear, deer, and pumas between the Huachuca, Patagonia, and Santa Rita mountains and represents the only conserved open-space corridor connecting these three ranges.
Our restoration activities engage a multi-pronged approach to mitigate climate change impacts in one of the sole remaining migratory wildlife corridors between the U.S. and Mexico. By installing erosion control structures (ECS), and re-establishing native plant communities, critical hydrologic processes will be repaired, ecological diversity and integrity will increase, and important habitat for migratory wildlife will be enhanced. This work will move this corridor toward a trajectory of recovery and increase the resilience of the landscape to current and future climate impacts.
Path of the Jaguar 2021-2023
Lunch Break Along the Path of the Jaguar Webinar, May 2021
Erosion Control Structures
Native Seed Collected
5 Pounds Collected to be Pelletized with Additional 25lbs of Native Seed
Native Mulch & Seed Pelletized & Dispersed
Across 40 acres of Bare and Disturbed Ground
Over 3648 Native Plants Planted
Erosion Control Structures
250 erosion control structures were installed including: one-rock dams, log-rock structures, rock rundowns, media lunas, and zuni bowls. Borderlands Earth Care Youth, built 26 of these structures as part of their programming.
Scientific studies show erosion-control structures on landscapes: decrease peak flows for small to medium flood events, decrease stress in plants and increase vegetation health, increase surface water availability at sites up to 5km downstream and up to 1km upstream, extend seasonal flows and increase in-stream volume by around 28%, increase organic matter (OM) in soils (i.e. carbon sequestration), increase soil moisture at structures by around 10%, increase sedimentation downstream.
Native Seed Collection
Material was chosen based on 1) distance to restoration site, 2) population size and health, 3) elevation, and 4) presence of fruit. Field personnel monitored field sites at the BWP, which is ungrazed, private land, and made collections when seed was at the point of natural dispersal. Seeds were cleaned, treated, and stored by staff at the BRN Seed Lab in accordance with seed needs for later dispersal on bare soils.
Revegetation, Native Mulch & Native Pelletized Seed
Native mulch and native grass seed pellets will be dispersed across areas with minimal vegetation coverage in the BWP. Using a wood chipper, the BRN Watershed Restoration Crew will chip dead and down native, woody material such as native velvet mesquite to cover bare and disturbed ground. Mulch promotes soil moisture retention, provides organic matter to rebuild soils, and reduces soil erosion. It also acts as a seed refugia for hand-scattered seed pellets, further promoting vegetative recovery and stabilizing the soil surface. Restoration planting activities occured over two growing seasons and included the planting of 3648 native riparian trees, forbs, and graminoids.
Aerial photography, scientific monitoring, and wildlife cameras were used to monitor effectiveness. Drones were flown before and after restoration activities to visualize restoration effects on the landscape. Sediment retention behind erosion control structures was also measured. Wildlife cameras are used to document wildlife.