Borderlands Restoration Network (Arizona)

Borderlands Restoration Network is a conservation non-profit with a sound mission: 

“We partner to grow a restorative economy by rebuilding healthy ecosystems, restoring habitat for plants and wildlife, and reconnecting our border communities to the land through shared learning.”

When the “borderlands” are referred to, we are always talking about the national boundary between the United States and Mexico. This political border only touches four U.S. states: California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The border runs 1,954 miles and is often in the news, discussed in heated political debates. It is also often misunderstood.

Landscapes, wildlife and rivers do not obey borders artificially made by humans. On the contrary, the habitats along the border are seamless no matter which side you are on1. The borderlands region offers some of the most scenic, diverse, and unique ecosystems found in the United States.

Numerous species of birds, mammals, and other wildlife make appearances on the northern side of the border that are normally only found in Mexico. These rarities cause waves of birders to search them out, although many are found quite regularly if you merely travel further south.

Rebuild, Restore, Reconnect

Borderlands Restoration Network’s vision is inspiring because it is all encompassing. Without the human element and economic foresight, conservation efforts can easily fall flat. Simple dumping money to “conserve wildlife habitat” is not enough. BRN focuses on sustainability with humans.

What Does Borderlands Restoration Network Do?

They provide education and outreach programs, watershed and habitat restoration as well as a really cool native plant program called Borderlands Nursery & Seed. This program produces over 100,000 plants a year to help restore native plants to the area. They also own and manage an amazing wildlife preserve.

Borderlands Wildlife Preserve

At 1,800 acres and growing, the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve is part of the Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor. It is owned by Wildlife Corridors, LLC, which is dedicated to providing a public-private partnership with the space. Thus, it is open for hiking with an extensive trail system.

The preserve is nestled in the popular Patagonia-Sonoita, Arizona birding area. This includes the Patagonia Roadside Rest Stop, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Paton Center for Hummingbirds and much more. Thankfully, this area once destined to be developed is now protected indefinitely.

Borderlands Restoration Network has an interesting blog and hosts various events. Francesca Claverie, BRN’s Native Plant Program Director was recently featured on Mountain & Prairie Podcast. Definitely worth a listen!

One of the most unique and interesting conservation efforts (which I learned from the above linked podcast) is the Bacanora for Bats project. This is a joint effort of agave spirit producers, specifically the unique liquor known as Bacanora, and conservationists to help preserve native agave plants in an economically sustainable way.

BRN’s work is mostly centered around Arizona’s southern border but its impacts reach well beyond the borderlands.


1Unless there is a hideous wall in the way

Photos are from a trip taken with my parents in 2004 to this area but not specifically the preserve.

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