Sustainability and Sense of Place in the Sonoran Desert/Human Ecology & Conservation

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Component Five – Human Ecology & Conservation

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For this Component, we discussed three more articles from the textbook, A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert - readings related specifically to the impact of human activity upon the ecosystems of the region.

For the live-visitors portion of this Component in Spring of 2020, Professor Emerita of Culinary Arts Nancy Meister, a long-time naturalist, ecologist, and president of the local chapter of the Audubon Society, became the first to visit us via Zoom during the early days of the pandemic. Through her colorful slide show, she made us aware of the amazing diversity of bird life in the local area. Chase Choat, Environmental Director for the local Quechan tribe, gave us a tour of the riverside Sunset Point Park, graciously offering his passionate descriptions of the tribal resources while standing in the light spring rain. On Earth Day of 2021, we had a special guest appearance by Morgan Moore of Audubon Southwest, who talked about opportunities for volunteer work and actual careers in conservation.

A. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, “Human Ecology of the Sonoran Desert”

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Guiding Questions

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"Man always kills the thing he loves," said Aldo Leopold, "and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness."  Is it "human nature" to seek to dominate and own what we find most beautiful, even though possessing it will change its essence?  Will it even be possible to suppress that impulse when, say, our survival depends on it?

Mining for precious metal is an example of the interface between the sciences of geology and biology.  What impact did mining have on the plant and animal populations of the Sonoran Desert - directly and indirectly - after the arrival of the Europeans?

Has your understanding of the variety of peoples and cultures that have inhabited the Sonoran Desert changed?

Besides the devastation of the environment, what were the implications of the European incursion upon the indigenous populations of the Sonoran Desert?

What historical developments finally put an end to the frontier era and ushered in extractive practices on an industrial scale?

What kinds of specific destruction of the desert are associated with copper mining?

In what ways did the rise of agribusiness transform the ecology of the state of Mexican state of Sonora during the 20th century?

Besides the inevitable conflict between humans and the natural environment, in what ways are the various activities - e.g. mining, agriculture, urbanization - in conflict with each other?  In what ways are different human groups and different geographic jurisdictions at odds with each other, esp. as concerns water use?

And, finally, in what ways are native plants threatened by Old World transplants?

Student Discoveries 2021

[edit | edit source] appears that even land we think of as pure and untouched by humans—specifically in the Americas pre-colonization—is not actually pure and untouched because the Native peoples had an influence on the diminishing of some species and the growth of others. It is evident that there has to be some taking from nature to survive in the most basic form: we need shelter, food, and water. Over time, the extent that humans take from nature to achieve these needs has grown immensely. /Emily

Foreign plants can be invasive by spreading quickly, and overgrowing native plants. plants transported from other countries can also carry bacteria and other infections that can harm native plants. This also refers to the importation of animals including us humans as the Europeans brought with them diseases that they were immune to but the natives were not like measles, influenza and smallpox which killed many natives, and other issues that killed off other animals and harmed local farms.

Throughout history, mankind has been known to dominate and own everything that surrounds them. Humans tend to act without taking into consideration the long term consequences that such actions may have. Instead, the focus is placed on the benefits of the moment. However, this nature has come to be changed as time progresses. Little by little, human nature becomes more aware of the land and its surrounding. It will be possible to suppress the impulse that we have as humans in order to survive.

I would restructure the phrase to "Man always kills the things humanity said to love" First, love to nature is substantially different from love to a person as it is often impossible for most people to give this deep, understanding, and complex appreciation to something that does not have sentience. Humanity is an animal species, it doesn't matter how much people dislike the term it is a fact. What makes us different from other animals? It is clearly our advanced rationale, however, this possesses a dichotomy, do we respond by instinct or by thought? I would say that when talking about nature our first response is the systematic decomposition of our environment to find what has utility, an expression of curiosity, and rationale as a species this defines what "humanity said to love".

While I do not wish to say that it is part of human nature, it is definitely prevalent in our history. Humans always find a way to capture or seek control over what they love the most. I think that not only will it be possible but we're going to be forced to suppress that impulse when our survival depends on it. Of course this will be only when the problems are apparent enough for everyone to recognize it is a problem. If it were so easy, we would have already suppressed this “Instinct” since our survival already depends on it.

It is human nature to seek dominance regardless of the effects that it will have on other living things. I do not think we will be able to suppress this impulse, mainly because it depends on our survival. Humans have always used nature’s resources according to their needs without really thinking about the consequences. They have done this for years and will continue to do it for a lot more.

I do believe it is “human nature” to seek dominate and own what we find most beautiful, even if possessing it changes its essence. I think we have to feel in control in order to feel powerful or successful. We constantly have been told that if we fight for what we want we can have it which should not really apply to everything. Native plants are threatened by Old World Transports I think what this is trying to say is basically native plants can be replaces with new ones which I feel is wrong since plants are more beautiful when they come naturally, and we do not do anything to interfere with their growth and leave them alone.

Throughout the years, the Sonoran Desert has changed greatly as a result of human interference. Have all these changes been for the good? As Aldo Leopold once mentioned, “man, always kills the things he loves”. Our natural need to dominate has driven animals such as the great Pleistocene mammals of North America to extinction. I think in some instances we can help but put our needs above everything else. Thousands of years ago people were hunter-gathers. Now that we have domesticated animals and build stable agriculture, I think we should know better about the impact we have on this earth.The mining industry brought many workers and wealth to the Sonoran Desert. The discovery of silver in 1683 led to the building of Alamos and investments in the land. With the promise of labor and “precious” metals, many people moved to the desert. Demands for firewood, salt, timber, charcoal, etc. began to rise. In order to keep up with the rapidly growing mining, population hillsides were stripped, streams rerouted, water polluted, and agriculture communities changed.

Student Discoveries 2020

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Aldo Leopold said that “Man always kills the thing he loves and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness” and unfortunately that is the truth of humanity. I do believe that Aldo Leopold is correct in his quote because man always seeks beauty and wants to conquer it for example killing an animal for it fur or destroying an area to build a home because the scenery is beautiful./Martha

The mining of precious metals had become a very popular activity to do. The impacts of this activity had many different negative effects on the plants and the animals that lived in that area. Some of the problems that arose were contamination of water, soil, groundwater, land destruction, and soil erosion. Humans didn't care about what effects they were caused because they were making more money off of mining. During the 1880s, it all changed and it became the Era of Extraction. Both Arizona and Sonora became known as extraction colonies. In these places, people would rip natural resources from the ground, and ship it to somewhere else. They called this the "Three C's" in Arizona. The Three C's stood for cattle, copper, and cotton. The first major extraction was cattle, and by the 1890s they had about 1.5 million cattle and more than a million sheep that they could ship out. The second major extraction was copper mining. Copper depended mainly on railroads. In the book, it mentions that this became "the triumph of technological innovation," and that they would destroy parts of the earth to get this precious metal. This destroyed many different parts of the earth and landscapes. /Aileen

When the Europeans arrived, they infected the Indians with Eurasian diseases like influenzas, measles, and smallpox. Among Indians of the Sonoran Desert, there was an epidemic spread death. Thousands of Yaquis and Mayos perished again because they had no genetic resistance to withstand the microbes brought on by the Europeans./ Cindy

Cattle, copper, and cotton, the three C’s, working in conjunction with the newly formed railroad, changed the Sonoran forever./ Henry

When new plants are brought to new places, native plants can be displaced by them. /Vianna

The quote “Man always kills the thing he loves and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness” by Aldo Leopold is truly heartbreaking. I believe it is human nature to feel the need for dominance over everything even if it changes its’ essence. In this case, our need to control nature itself, for example, changing where the river waters go towards, has in many cases almost caused catastrophes and changes in the environment of many wildlife. /Galilea

Lepold makes the state of, "Man always kills the thing he loves and so we pioneer have killed our wilderness." This quote really sparked a lot of questions in my head. If man always kills the thing he loves, then what if we took this into a situation when it comes to a relationship. If a man or woman truly loves one another does that mean eventually he will kill her? /Nicole

"Man always kills the thing he loves and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness." This quote from Leopold it very true. I feel over time it has become "human nature" to dominate and own what people feel is beautiful. For example in history it has been shown men fight for the hand of a woman they find most beautiful. People grow up being told to fight for what you want and you can have it, so I think for most people it is human nature. Mining for precious metals was very popular because many people could make money off of what they found and sold. What many people don't realize is that with mining comes a whole new set of problems such as, soil erosion, contamination of surface water, soil, and ground water, it also brought land destruction. With the arrival of the Europeans in the Sonoran Desert came diseases that the Indians were not equipped for. For the next 200 years the Indian population dropped about 95 percent and this was due to influenza, measles, and smallpox. For about three decades Arizona was a frontier but that changed in the 1880's, which is called the "Era of Extraction." At this time the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Fort Yuma and there was still more railroads being built. The end of this era occurred when Apache leader Geronimo surrendered to general Miles. A while after that Arizona and Sonora became extractive colonies. During this time this era is known for the "three C's"- copper, cotton and cattle. Many of the natural resources were being taken from the ground and sent to other locations to be sold off or turned into something else. Copper mining was very destructive. Large parts of the Earth had to be ripped out of the ground to extract the metal. It also destroyed landscapes, caused soil erosion, and caused the pollution of waterways. /Olivia

Leopold raises a great point, however I am more optimistic in the future than what his quote implies. I think humanity can prevent the impulses that have led to the destruction of the Sonoran desert, however to reach that point will be quite difficult. Recently there have been efforts to raise awareness about global warming and modern destruction of the enviornment, however significant actions has yet to be taken. /Patrick

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." I absolutely loved this quote. The question was later posed of “Should trees have standing; Should rivers have rights?” I feel my answer to that coincides with this quote. Trees, rivers, and all wildlife should absolutely be respected enough to not simply be tampered with and torn down. They provide so much for humanity we would literally not be around if it wasn’t for them, they should be treated as important as they are. Too many wrongs have been imposed onto the Gila River and the Sonoran Desert and continue to. /Blanca

When I think of the desert I think of desert like animals and people of desert cultures. I did not know what the Sonoran Desert encompasses therefore I did not know how many other cultures it includes besides the ones around me. /Mackenzie

For the most part I feel like that man doesn’t realize the love he has for the wilderness, there’s a certain feeling of not love but necessity. Man needs land and possibly in order to feel in control and in a sense dominating it. /Kayla

Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in.” I think this quote speaks a lot to how we approach the wilderness being something of a luxury. Which it’s not a luxury but a necessity that is being degraded. The last part of the quote reminds me of professor Miller when he said he will be long gone before he could see the actual result of our action on the environment. As to the question, “Will it even be possible to suppress that impulse when, say, our survival depends on it?” I am kind of conflicted because I remember sitting through a philosophy club meeting where we discussed if in the future would humans be able to see life on Mars. Henry was also in that meeting with me and, I don’t know if he remembers this, but I heard someone mention that we need to accomplish this before we humans overpopulate the world and destroy it. So if one person in a small club has that mentality I can imagine how many people are actually doing their research and planning the next planet to destroy. So, I think people are looking at Mars as a solution. On the other hand, I do believe human beings respond well to consequences. When that day comes, I think we will come together as one and hopefully protect the wilderness and consider ourselves part of the ecosystem. If not, I think there will be someone enforcing a law or something to help protect the wilderness better. /Bethelhem

One historical development that has put an end to the frontier end and had extractive practices on the industrial scale was the Arizona Sonora borderlands which meant that no tribe, empire, or nation held any challenge or power over one another. In addition, one other was the Southern Pacific Railroad which would later in the years start a pathway of transportation that went to different cities or counties. Due to this, the state of Mexican in its ecology changed it to becoming an abundant place for travel and expansion of transportation that would increase their population and prosperity. When it comes to the other activities that have caused conflict with each other such as mining, urbanization, and agriculture it has caused other environmental problems start to arise that are almost irreversible now. For example, agriculture such as produce and crops have shown to start to decrease in the amount that they produce which has also affect the rest of the economy around the world. In conclusion, human groups and geographic jurisdictions have caused them to argue in what is needed and what is not.After reading the way people and cultures have inhabited the Sonoran Desert it has affected my original understanding of it because it showed me how much we have changed the way it is and the consequences that we have now. Overall, I believe that we initially in the beginning wanted to create a structure that would benefit us in the way that we live but have become selfish to the point of not thinking entirely of the way it has affected the life of the Sonoran Desert/Izabeau.

B. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, “Conservation Issues”

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Guiding Questions

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How much of the discussion of invasive plant species rings a bell from Val Morrill's tour of the Yuma Conservation Garden?

How do you feel about the fact that the landscape you're looking at as you travel across the Sonoran Desert is actually greatly altered from its natural state, in terms of the plant life that covers it?  Specifically, how do you feel about the fact that not long ago wildflowers were much more abundant and spectacular?

What are some of the ways in which you perhaps didn't realize species can go extinct?

Is it true that the new habitats that result from human impacts are different but basically "just as good," or are they inherently inferior?  What will be the overall impact of having altered habitats everywhere in the world?

How difficult will it be to reverse the situation.

What are the problems with "alternative energy farms"?

Are you still as comfortable as you used to be with eating seafood?

How do you feel about this comment: "...natural habitat should be the matrix in which islands of human habitat exist, not the other way around"?

What do you plan to adjust your lifestyle to help secure a sustainable future for the region?

What is the fundamental purpose of conservation efforts?

Student Discoveries 2021

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The most important thing we need to learn in regard to conservation is not restoration or preservation because there is nothing untouched to be preserved or restored. Rather, it is imperative that our solutions to this global problem “assure a healthy landscape that maintains biological diversity and functioning ecosystems.” Our current efforts to restore and preserve are often counterproductive and there are healthier, more efficient ways to help our planet. /Emily

Native invasive animals also are a problem, but they are more so a problem because, human influences have increased their populations. When we build on land, we think all the animals that lived there kind of disappear, but animals adapt and some of those animals especially thrive on our trash more than others which increases their presence here. Maybe that's why we have rodent issues more than we have other animal species issues. and this population increase also affects populations of other animals when predator species populations soar.

I think it is mind-blowing it is often a matter of common sense to know that things change and the Sonoran Desert would be no exception, however, the changes that the landscape has experienced are in essence the representation of the human spirit, an insatiable desire for curiosity and power depicted by the growing scarcity of what was once abundant such as Turk head cactus, Huachuca water umbels, and Pima pineapple cactus so many diverse and beautiful species that tainted the landscape with a variety of colors.

The fundamental purpose of conservation efforts is to save humanity. The damages that have been done on the planet can heal within the course of a million years. Planet Earth would still continue on without us. It is us who will no longer be able to survive.

It will definitely be extremely difficult for people to reverse the situation, I would even go as far as to say that it is impossible at this point. We will never be able to reverse the world to the state that it was years ago, but we can at least prevent it from getting worse and lessen the impact of our decisions. This will involve persuading people who do not care about this sort of stuff to actually pay attention to what is going on.

I was amazed by most of the ways species could go extinct, such as, aerial sprays with herbicide. I was not really amazed with the whole parasites method to help control species since it is kind of the whole circle of life if you really think about (one species keeps the other in line).

It's crazy to think just how different the Sonoran Desert used to be. Before changing in the 20th century, the desert used to be filled with plants and wildflowers. This greatly changed after humans started disrupting the natural balance of the ecosystem. Humans have done this by introducing invasive species, climate change, and direct human impact. I think the most shocking way something could go extinct is by introducing invasive species. For example, the Sahara mustard first contaminated crop seeds in 1927. By the 1970s this plant quickly spread to the lower Arizona desert where its dense strands restricted sandy soil. Soon it would invade rock soils and wildflower fields.

Student Discoveries 2020

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I believe that habitats that change due to human impacts are not “just as good” I believe they are inferior to regular changes done by nature. In the sense that when humanity changes something it is a quick process in which the species in the habitat doesn’t adapt to it because it happens so quickly. They soon will adapt to it but it's not something that was intended to happen./Martha

In her tour, she informed us that Bufflegrass was concurring invasive species in Arizona and that they contribute to fires. These fires destroy many native plants and animals. Another major topic that Val Morrill mentioned that the book does too is the Sahara Mustard. In her tour, she said that this species was the "worst invasive plant right now." Morril mentioned that these have almost 10,000 seeds and that these are terrible plants. In the book, it specifies that the Sahara Mustard is the most recent invasive species, and it's a "greater threat than the buffelgrass." Since the Sahara Mustard can multiply fast and can tolerate droughts and winters. Thinking about how beautiful the landscape could have been, it is heartbreaking. In the NHSD, it mentions that wildflowers used to be abundant, but that they are slowly disappearing due to invasive plants. These invasive plants are making drastic changes to our landscapes. I was surprised to read about the ways that species could go extinct. Some that the book mentions are by using aerial sprays with herbicide. This example is a new experiment in which they are trying to control buffelgrass. Another way is that parasites help control and reduce the amount of a species. This method is "effective and safe," according to the NHSH. /Aileen

After reading about invasive plants, I discovered that invasive plants have caused a drastic aesthetic effect on the desert landscape, displacing many flower species like the wildflowers. I also discovered that wildflowers were much more abundant and spectacular, but they are now overrun by the Sahara mustard plant and are in grave danger of disappearing./ Cindy

To think that there were so many plant species that thrived in this climate without the need of human interference is amazing. But like we have done with many other things around the world and over time we changed nature to conform to us./Vianna

The new habitats that result from human impacts are not "just as good" as the natural habitat. These human-made habitats are inherently inferior, they are the product of humans using the land for resources and harming the environment. Having altered habitats everywhere in the world would result in the extinction of many animals and plants that depend on certain habitats. /Galilea

It is obvious that the world we are living in now is completely different in comparison to the past. The landscape across the Sonoran Desert, even though I personally do not know, has changed throughout the year. The landscape of the Sonoran Desert has been altered from its natural state. This statement is really sad because I am the kind of person who is easily by a natural view. I just glare at nature whenever we have a road trip and I can’t imagine that the view being different and more spectacular. /Bethlehem New habitats that humans had an impact on, won't turn out the same as if we didn't and it naturally occurred on it's own. Anytime a human has impact on nature, it automatically changes the way things would've been. These habitats may turn out to be very similar to how they would've turned out if we didn't have an impact on them, but some may turn out completely different. /Nicole

During this chapter, and some of Morrill’s tour, I learned invasive species grow bigger and faster than native species. I find this particularly very interesting because it would seem that the species natural to the Sonoran Desert would thrive better and bigger than ones that are intrusive but that is not the case with invasive species. /Mackenzie

Invasive species of annual grasses typically grow faster and are more commonly found than native species. Invasive and exotic species can be dangerous because they tend to populate at a rapid rate, competing with native species and overpopulating the land. The most dangerous grass in the Sonoran Desert is buffelgrass which accounts for 2.5 million acres. Part of the reason for buffelgrass being dangerous is that it spreads quickly, turning the desert into more of a grassland, that is highly flammable. /Kayla

The discussion of invasive plant species reminded me a lot of what was talked about during our visit to the Yuma Conservation Garden. I do not quite remember the name of the invasive species, but I remember Val Morrill mentioning a plant created by humans to feed animals but ended up damaging the land they grow on. She also mentioned that their reproduction rate being really fast, and the plant would cover a huge amount of land and it is really hard to manage or correct. “An example where humans tried to play God but did not turn out as planned.” /Bethlehem

C. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, “Biodiversity”

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Guiding Questions

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If restoring biodiversity is so much healthier in every way, why don't we simply do it?

How ironic is it that this chapter - the concluding section of the main section of your textbook ("Part One: The Big Picture") - uses Quitobaquito Spring as its shining symbol of biodiversity, when that location is being intentionally destroyed as we speak?

In what ways is the word "desert" perhaps not even appropriate to use for this bioregion?

Student Discoveries 2021

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Although restoring biodiversity is much healthier in almost every way, it is difficult to get large segments of the population to agree to protect it. If the majority of the population chooses to ignore it, it becomes impossible to simply do it. /Emily

This desert seems to be full of life and sustains many different plants and animals, and That in my eyes doesn't describe a desert. Again, like we've said in previous discussions, I think people perception of desert is bare land and little life. but this bioregion is not lacking life.

I think it represents that there is a story left to be written and that in the near future there will be a new chapter in which there will be one of the following titles either "The destruction of Quitobaquito Spring" or "The new hope of the Sonoran Desert" it is left to us to choose by our actions which title do we want, history is in our hands.

Restoring biodiversity comes to a big expense for people. It becomes very difficult to restore biodiversity if we don’t have the resources to properly do it. Instead, the focus should be on all the human population to preserve biodiversity and not have to be placed in the situation of having to restore it.

I feel like this is something that people should agree with more. We should not see animals as something that we should contain for our protection and our benefit but we should contain ourselves from wildlife for their protection. As stated in the passage, the fundamental purpose of the conservation efforts is to conserve humanity. To save it from the destiny in which it is leading itself.

I believe a problem with “alternative energy farms” would be having sufficient resources to keep them running. As for how comfortable I am with eating seafood well I am a vegetarian, so I do not eat any type of meat. “…natural habitat should be the matrix in which islands of human habitat exist, not the other way around”, if understand this correctly (basically natural habitat being the base of the human habitat) I would say I agree with this statement.

Student Discoveries 2020

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We simple do not do it because it is something many people will be willing to do. I do believe that many people would change their ways to restore biodiversity, but many others won't. I believe./Martha

While reading this chapter, I learned that restoring biodiversity is healthier in every way, but humans would struggle. I feel that we don't do it because not everyone cares. A lot of people want to help the environment, but there are those people that don't want to contribute. I know people that say they don't care and that there is only one person; they say, "how much of an effect can I have?" This type of attitude is what makes it difficult for us. I believe that they use Quitobaquito Spring ironically to show that even places like this are being affected. This example can be eye-opening. It can show the audience or readers that we need to help restore places like this so that they don't get destroyed. That we need to help maintain beautiful places like this. It's sad to see that places like these are in danger and are threatening the diversity of all the plants and animals. /Aileen

It’s pretty ironic how this chapter describes Quitobaquito Springs as the prime example of biodiversity when it is actually being destroyed at this very moment. The Quitobaquito Springs is in danger as steel walls will be placed in that location and prevent migration and threaten the biodiversity of animals and plants./ Cindy

The word desert is probably not appropriate to use for this bioregion because we are changing it so much. A desert is made up of the species that are supposed to live here, not species that are now gone./Vianna

Selfishness is the reason why restoring biodiversity is not made a priority. Since it doesn't have a direct impact on humans, it is put at the bottom of the list. /Galilea

It is very hard for people to change and give up the things they want and desire. Biodiversity is easy in the eyes of someone who is willing to sacrifice their wants and needs for the good of the planet. /Nicole

The discussion of restoring biodiversity as it is so much healthier in every way is truly easier said than done. I think everything will make its way and circle back to the discussion of the human race’s act of selfishness when it comes to the environment. “If restoring biodiversity is so much healthier in every way, why don't we simply do” this is because essentially, we do not want to do it. I think in reality when we have to make the changes, we do to restore biodiversity its harder than anticipated. /Mackenzie

The chapter discusses Quitobaquito, found in Organ Pipe National Monument. It says that this location is the perfect example of what the word diversity encompasses. It has ecosystem diversity, biotic community diversity, interaction diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity, all of which help form environmental stability. The passage points out the fact that we are the ones making the Sonoran Desert and other deserts into the stereotypical barren wasteland and if we don’t make a change then it will continue to deteriorate into something it was not. /Kayla

Restoring biodiversity is hard to restore because our lives are consumed with other things. Nature, our environment, is one of the many things we take for granted. Unlike the coronavirus who has given us a very good perspective of everything we have taken for granted, the environment, hopefully, things will be a little different. /Bethlehem

D. Morgan Moore of Audubon SW (visiting speaker, 2021)

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Morgan Moore is currently twenty-seven years old, having been out of college for only five years. Moore gave us a glimpse into her job with the National Audubon Society of the Southwest and also provided plenty of advice on figuring out our own paths after we graduate from college.

Campaign organizer for the National Audubon Society, Morgan Moore gave us a presentation about the nonprofit organization she works for as well as her experience as a student and the pursuit of her dream job.

Through her presentation and experience, we not only were able to hear about the many actions we could take to help the environment, but we got to see it as well through her own life experiences. Being able to see what she is currently doing post college/university gives a light of hope to one, as a college student, and what we can do to help the environment.

As stated in the passage, the fundamental purpose of the conservation efforts is to conserve humanity. To save it from the destiny in which it is leading itself.


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The greatest lesson I learned from Moore was to make intelligent choices about what I do, while also recognizing that I will not likely get my dream job right out of college. /Emily

I like that Morgan took some time to talk about the transition after graduation to getting the job you worked hard to get your degree in. I am not a first-generation student, but its nice to hear stories how people transition. I feel that people in the science fields have so many options they could do after getting a science degree, a general biology degree has many job opportunities.

Something else that this presentation reiterated to me is how connected everything is. Since I have always tried to create conscience in the people around me and even those I don’t completely know about the struggles and treatment for psychological disorders. I have been diagnosed with clinical anxiety, and to some extent, I know how hard it is to recover, to become functional once again after everything you suffer, and something that helped me was reconnecting with nature. People should know about how creating a stronger bond with the environment is something almost magical that can allow you to relax, to slowly breathe as you find something in which to redirect your energy and thoughts.

She came to show us that we can make a difference, regardless of our age. The importance here is wanting to make a difference.

Apart from what Moore was able to teach us, it was nice to learn about how she found herself where she is. As someone who is having trouble thinking of what to do next, it was interesting to learn about her goals and the actions she took that got her where she is. Instead of looking for a job career immediately she decided to do internships and part time jobs in fields that she found interesting and opened new doors for her.

I believe that the national Audubon society does a great job bringing awareness and protecting the different species of birds in our region. Before this presentation, I did not about the existing of the Audubon society, but I am glad that there are people out there that care about the diversity and ecology.

Audubon Society is a conservation nonprofit organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow throughout the “Americas.” They also try to find solutions for people as well. They are local everywhere, which is impressive. They work on bird counts, different education programs, surveys, habitat monitoring, conservation, community engagement, and advocacy.

The Audubon organization is a conservation non-profit organization that protects birds and their environment using science, advocacy, education, and on the ground conservation. They find solution for both people and birds because the environment isn’t just impacted by animals. The organization is local everywhere this includes state and regional offices, nature center, and sanctuaries. They have 8 chapters in Arizona which as not legally affiliated with them. However, they often share the same political values. Nancy Meister in the president of Yuma Audubon Society. One thing Moore wanted us to know is even when someone shares different political parties that don’t necessarily believe in certain environmental views (republicans) we can still advocate for the issue we believe in.

E. Chase Choat, Quechan Sunset Point Park (field trip, 2020)

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while restoring the park there was a controversy because the Willow Flycatchers had their nests in salt cedars, when they would naturally nest on willows. This was a controversy because cutting the salt cedars down would hurt the birds, but the birds should be nesting in the willows. I think that they ended up cutting most of the salt cedars and planted a lot of willows to let the birds adjust to this change./Vianna

He stated that this is an invasive species that was very difficult to get rid of. You can cut the salt cedar out and it will still find a way to grow back. The ways he said that are the only way to remove it is with either ripping it out all the way from the roots which is a lot of work or with chemicals such as herbicide./Martha

To restore this area they had to replant every tree by a certain technique: tap into the water table by constructing a hole and insterting the plant bark of the desired tree. /Galilea

This area has been taken over by so many invasive species and in order to prevent them from spreading, they must get rid of them while leaving the other species alone. /Nicole

The field trip to Sunset Point was a lot of fun despite all the rain. Being able to walk around some of the area it was really interesting to see all the open space and places where people can go visit. The area in the beginning when they first started they only had an eighth of the land they have now. Interestingly both the Indian Tribe and the City of Yuma have different water rights in the area. This way they are both working together to keep this land together. Cottonwoods have been around in the area since the early 1900's . The mesquite tree back then was very popular and could be found anywhere but then they got chopped down to build houses and use the wood for fire. Now they are trying to plant some more in the area but there aren't that many left. This park was really interesting to see and one of my favorites. I think it is nice to see that there are still areas in Yuma that still preserve the area and not build playground sets or have BBQ cookers for people. Being there you are able to sit down and walk around. I think this is important because I feel like at other parks around Yuma are always dirty and trash everywhere but being at Sunset point it was a different environment. I wish it wasn't raining when we went so we could have been able to walk around the entire area but once everything calms down I plan on going back and seeing some things we missed. /Olivia

Having a background in biology has made him realize it allows him to reconnect with mother earth and find this sense of place. /Mackenzie

I enjoyed how he explained the various uses of the mesquite tree and its fruit. Its uses were mesquite meal, wood for tribal shelters, using the thorns for tattoos, and the use of the tar of the mesquite for insect repellent. /Kayla


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In this park, there are some areas that are covered with invasive species. This park turned out to be quite an interesting and beautiful project. It's quite fascinating that the Mesquite is an important species to the Quechan Tribe. From this field trip, I was able to connect a lot of information with previous field trips. When he began talking about the different types of methods that are used to eliminate invasive species; I knew what he was talking about. One of the most interesting things that I heard was that the park Anyanitza means "the place where the sun rises." /Aileen

I was sad to discover that volunteers and workers have tried numerous times to pull out and get rid of the invasive species growing in the Quechan Sunset Point Park, only for them to reappear and pose a threat to the native plants in the region./ Cindy

What I loved most about it was the fact that it was created through community help. Even the fact that they have planters in there to kind of grow vegetables and fruits they are traditionally found in stores is amazing and I really do hope that a lot of more people use them. /Blanca

The river restoration area was more than just a beautiful area filled with endemic flora and fauna. What I saw was a blueprint. Chase Choat and his organization had shown people that restoration was possible in real time. Moving into a future where we, the people, know we must reconcile with nature and live more sustainably what would the world look like if each city, town, county and even federal government had a department solely responsible for restoring our environment the way they did there? I was really proud to see that place and already consider it a key experience in hoping to synthesize a rough idea for a sustainable future./ Henry

Although the tour guide did not grow up in Yuma, the cultural significance of the park was what attached him to the area, which is different from what I understood sense of place to be. I originally thought sense of place could only come from an area in which you were born into, however I learned that one can be find their own place in an area in which they feel a connection to. /Patrick

Our trip to the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation was an interesting one. For me instead of focusing on what was around us many of us were trying to find a shade or a jacket because it was raining that day. We did try to go around but soon realized it was not going to work out, we found a shade somewhere in the entry point of the reservation and had a little “lecture” like session. I remember there was a lot of information being shared in that session under the shade but there is not a lot I remember. /Bethlehem

F. Nancy Meister, Birds of the Yuma Region (visiting speaker, 2020)

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One of the most important things she mentioned to identify a bird is by its behavior, for example what time of the year did they come, which places do they like. Also, one of the main ways to identify when you look birds by the size, color patterns, and size and shape of the bell./Martha

The male birds are prettier than the females because they are ornamented and more colorful./ Cindy

There were a lot of birds that were mentioned, such as the Ferruginous Hawk, Anna's Hummingbird, the Bufflehead, the Ruby Crowned Kinglet and the Blue Grosbeak just to name a few. /Vianna

Nancy specializes in different kinds of birds found in the area. She explained the difference between each bird and how to tell what they are depending on their appearances. I found very interesting how there are four hummingbirds in Yuma. I had never actually noticed their difference due to how small they are and how quickly they move, it makes it almost impossible to actually inspect them. /Galilea

Nancy gave us a well-developed presentation on birds. She really went into depth on how certain birds act around each other and their size, shape, and color. /Nicole

She showed us a numerous amount of birds and explained some of the behavior, looks, and migration patterns of the birds. One of the interesting things that she talked about was how 3 million birds have been lost since 1970 which if we put into perspective is only 50 years to lose so many birds. One of the biggest detriments to these birds are crashing into windows and windmills. /Mackenzie

Ms. Meister stated different ways we could help conserve the bird-life: We can help by hanging string or gluing something on our windows so birds don't fly into them and by replanting native plants back such as: whoop berry and the riddle bush. /Blanca


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Nancy Meister is part of an organization that is aiming to protect rivers fro drying up. In the Natural History of the Sonoran Desert, the author mentions that man-made objects are destroying the environment. The NHSD also talked about how the river has changed its course over the years. It's drying up in many different areas parts in the U.S. It's a good thing that there are people that are trying to protect these rivers. After this guest speaker, it made me realize that I never knew that there were that many different birds in our area. /Aileen

I am really grateful the Audubon Society exists. Sustainability and conservation seem like such large tasks. If we could reinforce these existing groups and start new ones, working together, maybe we could move towards a better future. The study she mentioned, published in Science, states 1 in 4 North American birds have been lost in the last 50 years. There’s no words for that. If we think like Leopold, like we’re part of the ecological community, that kind of loss of our neighbors and friends life can’t be summed up in words./ Henry

It made me really happy to see that there are people who truly care so much about the environment and take all these measures to conserve it. I hope one day to be able to accomplish at least a fraction of all the amazing things Ms.Meister has done for our amazing planet. /Blanca

I do not really pay attention to these creatures as I go about my day in the Yuma area, and usually when I see birds, they tend to just be your average pigeon. However, now that Nancy has brought to my attention these unique birds that live in my area, I will be sure to go bird-seeing one day. I would like to see these beautiful birds Nancy has described in detail, and hopefully be able to distinguish each one after the information she has provided to us. /Patrick

One of the main takeaways I got from her presentation was when she encouraged us that we should plant more native plants. Native plants attract more birds and insects so planting them in the yard of your home will draw more wildlife. /Kayla

Nancy Meister is a bird watcher, a political activist, and president of the Audubon Society where she advocated for water use around the area. Since this presentation is all about birds, she mentioned the best way to identify a bird is by first looking at there size, shape, and color pattern. She also mentioned the migration pattern of birds around Yuma and why we don’t usually see a lot of birds here. She also mentioned E-Bird, an app that you can download on your phone where you can search for birds biased on their physical appearance. /Bethlehem