Archive for December, 2011

Agua Fria River Basin Blog

How can a blog be a Registry project?

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s new blog is all about one geographic location, a watershed near Dewey, Arizona. While a blog certainly stretches the definition of a Registry project, the Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s blog falls within the Registry’s category of wildlife and habitat monitoring, research, education and policy activities tied to a specific geographical location because it is an online location for users to report wildlife sightings in the Agua Fria watershed. The blog also provides background information on conservation in this unique watershed.

From Dr. Garry Rogers, October 29, 2011:
This year Great Blue Herons built nests over one of my stock ponds in Dewey-Humboldt near the Agua Fria River. They started with two nests, but abandoned one. Three chicks hatched. These were the first nests I’ve seen since moving here in 1997.

I first noticed the nests on April 10, when some loud croaking began. I think that was when the eggs were laid. On April 12 I watched a Great Blue Heron chase all 25 of the vultures out of the willow trees along my driveway. He had them ducking and squawking. They came back as soon as he left.

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance was formed to contribute to the health and sustainable management of undeveloped public and private lands in the Agua Fria River Basin. It seeks to protect physical and biological components of open space through research, education, and effective management.

More and more habitat in this watershed is being converted to development, and with human activities come invasive species and degraded habitat.

“Historical observations indicate that the desert grassland of the lower valleys was once home to thousands of antelope and myriad other creatures…. In the year 2000 only a few hundred antelope could be found, and about a third of these are expected to disappear during the next decade or two.”

The Agua Fria Open Space Alliance’s principal goals are to:

  1. Inventory and monitor wildlife, vegetation, invasive plants and animals, and ecological conditions.
  2. Design educational materials and experiences.
  3. Encourage protection and restoration of native plant and animal communities.

The blog encourages inhabitants to “step out our doors to see native vegetation, birds, and insects.”

From November 28, 2011
The photograph shows a Mourning Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa).  I nominate this species to become the emblematic butterfly for the Agua Fria River Basin.  The Mourning Cloak is truly at home among the willows and cottonwoods growing along the Agua Fria River in the heart of the Basin.  Mourning Cloaks mate in early spring, but I have seen adults flying beside the river on sunny days in all months of the year.

The transfer of significance from the past to the future
Dr. Rogers, the blog’s author, uses direct observation and compelling words to describe the world around him. In this way he’s part of a fine tradition of conservation, one definition of which is what another nature writer, Paul Evans called “the transfer of significance from the past to the future.”

 

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Bear Aware

Conservation Registry project minimizes human-related food attractant conflicts with Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bear cub in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steve Hillebrand.

Did you know? Human-related moralities are the number one cause of death for grizzly bears. Grizzly bear populations were reduced to near extinction before 1975, when the species was listed as an endangered species. The healthy return of the grizzly bear now puts them into direct conflict with humans as the bears try to repopulate their historic ranges, many of which have become human habitation too. Wildlife managers have had to kill and remove record numbers of bears after incidents of conflict.

 

Late spring, which can leave snow deep in the higher elevations when bears emerge from their winter dens, can drive bears to lower elevations where humans live. Garbage cans, chicken yards, or any unprotected source of food can lure bears into close contact with humans. And when that happens, wildlife managers have almost no choice but to remove the bears.

Educating Humans about bears
In Montana and Idaho, Defenders of Wildlife is working to minimize the number of human-related attractants available to bears on the landscape. Partnering with agencies, landowners, local services and organizations, Defenders provides outreach and education, electric fencing, food-storage lockers and bear-resistant garbage containers in important bear habitat. Take a look at the sites and view the project.

What you can do
Funds are needed to purchase more electric fencing, bear-proof garbage cans and food bins. Volunteers are needed for outreach and education efforts in Missoula, Montana. Contact Jonathan Proctor at Defenders of Wildlife if you can help.

 

Payette National Forest, Idaho. Photo by Suzanne Stone.

Information and community resources for living with bears:
Missoula Bears

 

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