Ribbons of Green

It was a hot day at the Rio Salado Nature Center in Phoenix but the center was full of people; people who had given up a precious Saturday, people who had driven from as far away as Prescott and Yuma, people ready to listen and learn. Outside, despite the heat,a few birds flew over the almost dry River Salt and dragonflies zipped by over the small pond where the young Cottonwoods were trembling in the heat. Yet the audience inside resolutely turned their backs on the scene to concentrate on what was being said inside, and they did that because they fully appreciate the importance of water in our desert lands.

It was the second workshop meeting of the Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN), held so that interested societies and individuals could come together to address the issues that threaten all of the rivers in the Western United States. Up until now it has been up to separate and often isolated groups to fight for specific rivers but, as the climate gets dryer and the pressure on our waterways increases with population growth, we need a less fragmented approach.

Hence the formation of WRAN and this meeting was held to start the ball rolling on formulating policies for the new group. We had lots of wonderful people come to talk to us, we shared ideas and information. For me though there was one powerful phrase that Tice Supplee used when she was talking about Important Bird Areas. She showed an aerial photograph of one of Arizona’s rivers. It was mostly the dusty brown color we know so well but, along the length of the river the trees grew in what she described as “a ribbon of green.”

An that, in essence, is what WRAN is all about. Preserving those “ribbons of green” for the animals and plants that depend on them now, for the people who have made Arizona their home, for the future generations who should enjoy the same beauty of such a unique ecosystem.

So what can you do? Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but first and foremost you can try this website – http://az.audubon.org/rivers-and-water-0
You can sign up here to become part of the network and you’ll be kept informed of what WRAN is doing and how you can help.

Then you can sign the petition at http://www.audubonaction.org/ProtectAZrivers

and finally – because this is not just about Arizona’s rivers but a wider issue you can read the multi-state newsletter at

Water affects us all – every drop is precious and to protect that water every person is precious. Please join with us.

Audubon launches multistate Rivers Advocacy Network

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

In the arid West we are all connected by rivers; they are the lifeblood of our land, our economy, our way of life. Western rivers—including the Colorado, the Verde, the Gila and the San Pedro, provide water for tens of millions of people, including twenty-two Native American tribes and the cities of Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Tucson.

We aren’t alone in our reliance on western rivers. Ninety percent of Central Flyway birds depend on these waterways for their survival.

Unfortunately our rivers are in jeopardy. Drought, invasive species, over-allocation and unsustainable management are running our rivers dry. Many of the birds that depend on them, like the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Bell’s Vireo, are in decline, and the future of the communities and economies surrounding our rivers is uncertain.

Audubon is taking a major step to address the threats to our western rivers. This spring we’re launching the Western Rivers Action Network, a multistate grassroots coalition to advocate for our rivers and the bird species that depend on them.

To lead the development of the Arizona network, we’ve engaged Sarah Luna, a seasoned conservation professional who brings a MGatRioSalado7wealth of skills to Audubon. Sarah will be reaching out to Audubon members across the state to get your input on how to make the Western Rivers Action Network a success and to find out how the network can support your chapter’s riparian conservation work.

Interested in being a part of the Western Rivers Action Network? There are many opportunities for volunteer advocates! Contact us to find out more. Email riosalado@audubon.org or Sarah Porter at sporter@audubon.org.

‘Second Chance for Wild Wings’ with Liberty Wildlife, part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, March 12

Join us Tuesday, March 12, 7:00 pm, Gilbert Community Center, 130 North Oak Street, Gilbert for Second Chance for Wild Wings as volunteers with Liberty Wildlife demonstrate the resilience and care required of injured Arizona wildlife.

Bring kids and cameras and be ready for raptor stare-downs.

Bring kids and cameras and be ready for raptor stare-downs.

Bring kids & cameras as we visit with some of Arizona’s most charismatic birds (which may include eagles, owls or hawks).
Come early to browse our mobile book shop, visit, and discover volunteer opportunities with Desert Rivers Audubon.
FREE. Light refreshments served.

Feb2012DRAS2Part of the Arizona Scitech Festival.

Spearheaded by Arizona Science Center, the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona and over 350 organizations statewide, the Arizona SciTech Festival, held annually in February and March celebrates the scientific wonders, resources, and opportunities in our state and their potential global impact.

Join Desert Rivers Audubon for the Great Backyard Bird Count February 15-18, 2013

Kick-off Saturday, February 16th @ Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Join Desert Rivers Audubon at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road Gilbert, to kick-off the Great Backyard Bird Count, Saturday, February 16, 2013, 8am-12 noon.

The goal of The Great Backyard Bird Count is to watch birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count then enter tallies at the Count’s website. Watch live data coming in and look up your area by zip code to see the Count progress in your city. Anyone can participate; it’s free. Participants can count anywhere they wish, not just in backyards, but in neighborhoods, parks, nature centers, or anywhere they see birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada and sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited.

“This year’s count will give us a whole new perspective as sightings pour in from around the globe in real time,” said Marshall Iliff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Millions of people encounter birds every day all over the world. Imagine what scientists will learn if each one of us shares observations from our own area!

“Once again, we’ll be able to coach East Valley residents in their bird identification skills Saturday during our free Family Birdwalk at Gilbert Riparian Preserve, Saturday, February 16, 2013, 8am-noon,” added Eileen Kane, Communications Director, Desert Rivers Audubon Society. “We hope to see those citizen scientists who helped us last year as well as new folks interested in knowing more about their neighborhood wildlife. Kids can count, too!”

During the 2012 count, participants reported 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists.

Keep watch for American Goldfinch.

“The GBBC is an ideal opportunity for young and old to connect with nature by discovering birds and to participate in a huge science project,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “This year, we hope people on all seven continents, oceans, and islands, will head out into their neighborhoods, rural areas, parks, and wilderness to further our understanding of birds across the hemispheres.”

Part of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

‘Arizona Raptors: Off and On the Radar’ part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, February 12

Join us Tuesday, February 12, 7:00 pm, Gilbert Community Center, 130 North Oak Street, Gilbert as Richard Glinski, editor of Raptors of Arizona, discusses Arizona Raptors: Off and On the Radar.

Glinski, Park Supervisor, Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant, Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department, shares stories about and his passion for conserving the eagles, hawks, kites, and owls of Arizona.

With over 40 species of birds of prey calling Arizona home, there will be ample time to admire these amazing raptor in photographs and descriptions of personal encounters.

Come early to browse our mobile book shop, visit, and discover volunteer opportunities with Desert Rivers Audubon.
FREE. Light refreshments served.

Part of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

Join us as we celebrate the Great Backyard Bird Count at Gilbert Riparian Preserve with the Arizona SciTech Festival February 16: http://azscitechfest.org/events/great-backyard-bird-count-gilbert-riparian-preserve

Join us as we celebrate the Great Backyard Bird Count at Gilbert Riparian Preserve with the Arizona SciTech Festival February 16, 2013, 8 am-noon.

For those who are not familiar with the Arizona SciTech Festival, this annual five-week festivity celebrates the scientific wonders, resources, and opportunities in our state and their potential global impact. The Festival integrates its interactive messaging in all corners of the state to all ages by collaborating with Arizona’s cultural, educational, research and business communities to explore the vital roles of science, engineering and technology in our own environments, across our nation and the world.

Protecting Arizona’s Environment – It’s worth it

Join Us at Environmental Day at the Capitol!

We hope you’ll join us for this fun annual event to show our legislators how much the people of Arizona care about our environment. Let legislators know that environmental protection is critical to a strong economy.

Tuesday, February 12EnviroDayWordle_5

8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

League of Cities and Towns,
Rm 101
1821 W. Washington St., Phoenix
Just west of the Capitol


Meet with legislators as part of a group so they can hear first-hand how much Arizonans really do care about clean air, clean water, and having parks and wildlife now and in the future.

You can stop by for a short period or stay for the day. Carpooling is available from some locations, and a bus will be coming from Tucson to Phoenix.

Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter addresses over 100 participants at  last year's Environment Day.

Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter addresses over 100 participants at last year’s Environment Day.

Please plan to attend, and bring a friend!

For more information, please contact Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org.

Audubon and the gulf oil spill

By Mike Evans
Conservation Director
Desert Rivers Audubon

A heavily oiled Brown Pelican sits hear healthy birds in Louisiana’s Cat Bay.

I would like to talk about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the work being done by Audubon and other environmental groups to restore the Gulf to the vital place it plays in our nation’s ecosystem as America’s Third Coast. My son Aaron is interning with the Gulf Restoration Network  this spring semester in New Orleans. (The Louisiana Audubon Council and Baton Rouge Audubon are two of the forty-five environmental organizations partnering with the Gulf Restoration Network on restoring the Gulf after the BP oil spill.) Aaron is a junior at Tulane University where he is working on a triple major in Anthropology, English, and Early Medieval Studies. He hopes to have a career in writing for environmental, science, and outdoor magazines.

For more on Audubon’s work on the Gulf oil spill, check out the National Audubon Society’s website. Much of what follows comes from that website.

So, as a reminder, “on April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off Louisiana’s coast, unleashing an undersea volcano

Priority Species of the Important Bird Areas along the Gulf Coast include the Black Skimmer.

of oil and natural gas that would ultimately gush into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. Audubon staff sprang into action.” Audubon “staff were first on the scene to assess the impacts and help guide and coordinate the emergency response.

“Hundreds of volunteers took on critical response activities, assisting with oiled and injured bird transportation, protecting beach-nesting bird colonies, and making nets, cages and other materials used in bird rescue. Others helped monitor bird populations and health through citizen science initiatives, including the Coastal Bird Survey, a program that continues to this day.

“After three months of desperate attempts, BP finally sealed the gushing well. By then, thousands of birds had died from contact with oil, the nesting season had been disrupted, and oil had reached 17 Important Bird Areas from Louisiana to Florida.”

Only time will reveal the full toll of the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Unprecedented amounts of oil, natural gas and dispersants entered the gulf in what amounts to an uncontrolled chemical experiment with unknown consequences.”

Today, Audubon is working to mitigate spill impacts, monitoring and preparing to act on emerging threats or declines observed in the months or years ahead, and working towards a plan for system-wide conservation in coalition with other environmental groups. For more detailed information on the clean up and restoration see this page on the Audubon website.

There is a great group of videos on the Gulf oil spill and Audubon’s vital role in the mitigation and restoration of the Gulf.

Finally, please take a look at this page on the website and take action. This story isn’t over yet. Unfortunately, there are many more chapters still to come. But, we can all make a difference. This disaster happened because we are all addicted to oil. On this webpage you will find concrete examples of how we can all help Restore the Gulf! If you made it to here, thanks for reading.