2020 Events and projects

Our 2020 projects and events will center around Monarch and milkweed monitoring, restoration work on the Thicket Patch, native plant seed collection in the Coronado National Forest and Thicket Patch, and public outreach to inform our community about the importance of native plants, pollinators and limiting pesticide use.

Along with hosting exhibit booths and giving presentations at nature festivals and other community events, our public outreach includes supporting and contributing to long-term databases used for research, including annual bird and butterfly counts, as well as native plant distribution.  The database we use most for identifying native plants is Southwestern Environmental Information Network (SEINet).  The plant specimens we collect (one shown to the right) are curated at the University of Arizona Herbarium, scanned and uploaded to the SEINet database for inclusion in their range maps, photographs and other data.  

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This database can be accessed at http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/index.php 

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A scanned piece of Pineland Figwort (Scrophularia parviflora) from the high elevation coniferous forests of the Huachuca Mountains. 

This plant specimen was submitted to the University of Arizona's Herbarium to be curated (mounted, catalogued and stored) in their permanent collection.

But Covid-19 had other plans for all of us.

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As the COVID-19 saga unfolds, we continue to move forward by attending virtual training, meetings and conferences, such as the Arizona Native Plant Society annual conference, the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) southwest chapter symposium, and monarch monitoring training through Monarch Joint Venture

 

Although we are a non-political nonprofit, we felt very strongly about supporting other environmental organizations in protest of the Arizona/Mexico border wall through the San Pedro River and other areas protected by federal environmental laws that were waived.   

Covid-19, however, had no influence at all on gopher activity in our ongoing restoration project site, the Thicket Patch.  Entire rows of milkweed plants are gone!  It is truly baffling how cattle can become sick eating a milkweed plant but gophers, a fraction of their size, can remove numerous plants, roots and all.  We purchased 10 more of our favorite milkweeds, Arizona Milkweed (Asclepias angustifolia) and put the root ball in a wire basket before planting to hopefully give these plants a fighting chance.  

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Below left and right are Horsetail and Antelope-Horns milkweed.  PoCo volunteers collected seeds from all three of these milkweed species growing on private property to be propagated by native plant nurseries for future restoration projects in Arizona.  

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In March, PoCo was contacted by the Friends of the San Pedro River to give them advice about what native milkweeds grow within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).  There are three beautiful milkweeds native to this area: Horsetail (Asclepias subverticillata), Bract (A. brachystephana) and Antelope-horns (A. asperula).  All three species were purchased at local native plant nurseries and the long-time volunteers made a small Native Milkweed Garden, with plant signage, near the San Pedro House bookstore.  Below is a blooming Bract Milkweed. 

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The Coronado National Memorial, with public access to native southwestern habitats, is located at the southern end of the Huachuca Mountains bordering Mexico.  The visitor center has a raised bed garden with pollinator-friendly plants native to the Memorial.  

A long-time volunteer asked PoCo if we would recommend pollinator plants for this garden, that is visited by thousands of people every year.  We added signage and transplanted nectar plants and caterpillar host plants from the Thicket Patch (a few miles away), along with plants native to the park grown by local native plant nurseries.  Weekly we water the garden and nature walk area.

This small amount of habitat has attracted at least 28 species of butterflies.  

Zoe and Jessie of Sky Island Alliance's border wildlife study visited the Thicket Patch to give us tips on setting up our wildlife camera to collect data for their FotoFauna project.   

See our Videos website tab for videos of the visiting wildlife, including many species of birds and four large mammals (Grey fox, Raccoon, White-tailed Deer and Eastern Cottontail).  With our serious drought, this water dish is visited often by wildlife. 

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