The Nature Conservancy Blog – “The River Geronimo Knew” by Tanna Kapel

CLO’s work has been highlighted in Tanna Kapel‘s 2014 article The River Geronimo Knew. The article was published in The Nature Conservancy Blog


Extract: Not all is doom and gloom on the Arizona-Mexico border. There’s a place where tranquility reigns, where ruddy ducks and great blue herons share reflective waters, where pools harbor leopard frogs and native Yaqui fish. Tall cottonwoods and dense thickets of willow provide nesting sites for raptors and migrating birds, and cover for bobcats, Gila monsters and other wildlife.

It’s hard to believe that only a decade ago, this wetland oasis did not exist. Back then, the river system of the San Bernardino Valley, which straddles the border east of Douglas, Arizona, was on life support. The Rio San Bernardino, which coursed south into Mexico, had become a barren, sandy channel with almost no perennial plants. Cottonwood and willow trees were scarce, as were shallow pools lined with cattails and bulrushes.

The wetland cienega that once existed here had been wiped out, its water drained by a 15-foot-deep gully that cut through the valley. “There were no trees, just lots of gullies. And the soil was like cement,” recalls Valer Austin, describing the mostly dry river running through the ranch that she and husband Joe purchased in Sonora in 1989.

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