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THE BIG BEND SENTINEL – “JOURNEY INTO GRASSLANDS” BY PILAR PEDERSEN

CLO’s work has been highlighted in Pilar Pedersen‘s 2017 article ‘Journey into grasslands’. The article was published in the Texan newspaper The Big Bend Sentinel.

 

Extract:  Since first experiencing open prairie as a young adult, I have been captivated by grasslands. Hearing about people in country like ours who were making inroads into restoration of watersheds and grasslands, preserving ranching heritage, and bringing diverse groups together to accomplish these goals pulled on me like a magnet. So, in early December a friend and I traveled from Alabama and West Texas, respectively, to the area bridging Arizona and Sonora, Mexico to learn from folks who are pioneering some remarkable changes.

Ana Valer Clark had no idea she’d be leaving Manhattan in 1981 when she submitted a very low bid on a worn-out ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Thirty five years later, this sprightly 76-year-old woman is effusive about her work, modest about her accomplishments, and was a captivating host. We spent three nights as her guest.

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EDIBLE BAJA ARIZONA – “A TALE OF TWO WALLS” BY TODD MILLER

EDIBLE BAJA ARIZONA – “A TALE OF TWO WALLS” BY TODD MILLER

CLO’s work has been highlighted in ‘s 2017 article ‘A Tale of Two Walls’. The article was published in the magazine Edible Baja Arizona.

 

Extract: The U.S. Border Patrol agent was positioned behind a rust-colored vehicle barrier, on the other side of the international boundary line. He stopped when he saw me, bent down and taking a picture of grass. I was examining a tuft of sacaton, one of the several varieties of native grasses brought back to life by one of the largest ecological restoration projects on the U.S.-Mexico border, at the San Bernardino Ranch, located about 12 miles east of Agua Prieta/Douglas.

Juan Manuel Perez, dressed in jeans and a white cowboy hat, wasn’t fazed. Perez, who is originally from Chihuahua, is the foreman of the organization Cuenca Los Ojos (CLO) and in charge of 45,000 acres of restoration projects spread throughout the region. We walked away from the vehicle and into a nearby wash, called Silver Creek, where Perez showed me what was at the heart of Cuenca Los Ojos (which means “watershed of springs” in English) restoration on San Bernardino: an ancient technique of strategically piling rocks to slow down the flow of water across land. After years of mechanized farming, cattle production, and now drought, this once parched and barren landscape could begin to drink again—could again absorb this precious water.

Since the 1990s, the restoration project has embedded galvanized wire cages, called gabions, on the banks and beds of washes. These gabions are filled to the brim with rocks and go as far as 18 feet deep into the ground. At first glance, they have the striking appearance of an intricate stone wall, a contrast to the border barrier just 100 yards away. But instead of keeping people out, they were built to be sponges shaped to the contour of the stream bed and riverbank, slowing the water and replenishing the soil with life. Before they were built, rushing water from monsoon storms would take topsoil and leave cutting erosion. Now, there is water year-round.

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THE NATURE CONSERVANCY BLOG – “THE RIVER GERONIMO KNEW” BY TANNA KAPEL

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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