Submitted by Diana Holmes, Pima County Certified Master Naturalist, Cohort 2
Shortly after moving to Oro Valley from Sonoita in 2012, my husband and I volunteered to monitor a remote wildlife camera in Catalina State Park. The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection sponsors an opportunity for citizen (community) scientists to be involved in a valuable effort to record animal (and human) activity in the park. A Coalition staff member guided us to predetermined coordinates in a small wash not far from the equestrian center in the park where we set up the camera. A month later, we were excited to see what was captured on film. We’ve seen coyotes, bobcats, skunks, foxes, javelinas, many bird species, and lots of rabbits and deer. One especially interesting photo was a badger and coyote encounter. People hiking and on horseback appear now and then. Neighbors (now good friends) became involved and as a team, we began monthly visits to check the equipment, replace batteries, change the memory card, and to note any unusual activities (one camera was stolen). An added benefit is the opportunity to hike in the park and observe seasonal changes, plant life, and other animals (two close calls with rattlesnakes). One time we found a small shredded parachute and weather capsule that we sent back to NOAA.
The Oracle Road wildlife bridge and underpass were completed in March 2016 with the goal to ensure connectivity and unimpeded wildlife passage between the Catalina and Tortolita mountains. The project has been a success with over 4,400 animals documented using the bridge and underpass in the first two years.
Over the years we’ve learned about the purpose and goals of the Coalition. As they state:
“The Coalition works to create a community where: ecosystem health is protected; nature and healthy wild animal populations are valued; and residents, visitors and future generations can all drink clean water, breathe clean air, and find wild places to roam.”
If interested in joining this effort, you can contact the Coalition at https://www.sonorandesert.org/