Become a Master Watershed Steward & Restore Riparian Habitat this Fall.

Guest blog by
Nikki Julien

Master Watershed Stewards explore the restoration of the Monarch over-wintering area at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area after a fire with Phoenix Park rangers.

From forest fires to floods, learn how Arizona’s extreme watersheds can be conserved and managed to continue to offer recreation opportunities and economic growth.

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension is seeking motivated applicants for the Phoenix Master Watershed Steward Program who will spread awareness about where our water comes from. Arizona’s extreme weather and topography create challenges to water management and water quality from the sunny valleys to the cool mountain retreats we all enjoy. Join a community of citizen scientists monitoring changes to urban waterways and wild ecosystems.
This intensive, ten-week course will educate and train adults about local watershed issues and water resources in Arizona. Course topics include climate, geology and soils, ecology, hydrology, streams and rivers, water quality, and water management. Classes will be taught by University of Arizona faculty and professionals from around the state. Use hands-on experience in the field exploring urban and wild waterways. Learn valuable skills as a volunteer restoring and expanding riparian habitats. Outreach to other caring citizens about challenges in creating sustainable rivers, wet or dry.

Master Watershed Stewards maintain the citizen science Photopoint Monitoring Program at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area.

Classes will be held at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Phoenix every Thursday morning starting October 4th, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 through December 6th plus one Saturday field trip. No class on Thanksgiving. The cost is $125.00 covers the Master Watershed Steward course and training manual. A maximum of 20 people will be accepted for this class.  Applications are due by Sept 15, 2012.

Download the Application here.
For more information, please contact:
Summer Waters or Nikki Julien, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
Phone:  (602) 827-8200
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A Few Words About Palms, Pruning and Owls

by Eileen M. Kane
Communications Director
Desert Rivers Audubon

When Liberty Wildlife brought three Great Horned Owls to our March monthly meeting, they also highlighted their orphaned owl fostering program where injured or lost owl chicks are given to the disabled adult owls at Liberty Wildlife to raise until released back into the wilds of metro Phoenix.

Great Horned Owls are especially talented at using hollows and crevices created by other birds, animals and people. The drying, drooping fronds of our landscape palms are a particular favorite of our local Great Horned Owls and here’s where the problems start.

A recurring issue adding to the numbers of very young owls being brought to wildlife rehabilitators is palm pruning. Specifically, the early spring pruning of palms in our residential and municipal landscapes. If homeowners and landscapers would just delay pruning palms by two to three weeks, young owls would have a better chance to fledge and move out of their improvised palm nests.

In fact, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona advises that over-pruning of palms can lead to wind-breaks. The process of pruning can also damage palm trunks–leaving them vulnerable to disease and insects–a situation aggravated by over-pruning.

Fan palms should not be trimmed until the fronds are completely dried out and ready to fall. Date palms should not be trimmed until June or July. Only brown and yellow leaves or spent flower stalks should be removed. Palms damaged by frost should only be pruned after the danger of frost is past, typically late March or April.
The Arizona Association of Landscape Contractors emphasize Sustainable Landscape Management, asserting best practices for quality results and avoiding the over-pruning resulting in orphaned and injured owls.