PubTalk 3/2021 - A Jaguar's Field of Dreams

Video Transcript
Download Video
Right-click and save to download

Detailed Description

Title: A Jaguar's Field of Dreams - If you build it, they will come (& other lessons from the U.S. - Mexico border) By: Laura M. Norman USGS, Western Geographic Science Center * Case study: the very lonely Jaguar * Madrean Archipelago Ecoregion, a biodiversity hotspot of the planet * Restoration ecohydrology and rewilding * Learn about the ecosystem services of rock detention structures


Date Taken:

Length: 01:01:58

Location Taken: Menlo Park, CA, US


Hello everyone and welcome.

My name is Amelia RedHill and I will

be your host and moderator today.

First off, I want to thank you for

joining us for our public lecture series.

As some of you may  know we've held our

public lecture series for the past

30 years and this year we're doing

things a little bit differently.

Now that were virtual, we're hopeful

that we can reach a larger audience.

And have you come back every single month to

hear new and exciting science from the USGS?

Before I introduce our speaker

of several announcements to make.

Next month we have Mike Tischler,

director of the National Geospatial Program,

who will be giving us an overview

of the program and the products

that they have available.

So please try to join us on April

22nd at 7:00 o'clock PM Pacific Time.

And now here are some tips on how to turn

on a couple of features on this platform.

To turn on the close

captioning on your desktop,

you can do so by clicking on the gear

shaped icon button located on the

upper right hand corner of your screen.

Close captions on your mobile

device can be turned on by tapping

on your phone and clicking on the

Close caption TV icon located at

the bottom of corner of your screen.

Tored the end of the lecture we will open

it up to a question and answer session.

If you have a question for the speaker,

you can submit them through the

Q&A chat window.

To find the Q&A chat window,

look for the question Mark icon on the

upper left hand corner of your screen.

That will bring up the panel where

you can type in your question.

If you are on your mobile device,

you can click on the question Mark

icon located on the upper right hand

corner of your screen and submit your

question in the Ask a question field box.

Please keep in mind that we may not

be able to get to all the questions.

That may come through,

but we do appreciate your understanding

in advance.

And now it's time to introduce

you to our speaker this evening.

Doctor Laura Norman.

She is a supervisory research

physical scientist at the USGS

where she has worked since 1998.

She received her pH.

D in watershed management from

the University of Arizona.

With a minor in remote sensing

and spatial analysis.

She has published over 60 peer reviewed

Journal articles on a wide range of

topics including environmental health.

Cross border policy. Regional planning,

ecosystem services and restoration design.

Laura it's great to have you with us today.

The floor is yours.

Hang on just one sack.


Hello again. We're gonna try this again,

so I'm starting from the beginning.

I was asked to share and talk about

ecology of the US Mexico border and

communicate my science in a fun,

interesting manner to a

non technical audience.

So I've arranged my presentation

as such to tell you about this

place some people and some of

the work that we're doing in it.

As I start with the US Mexico border,

I understand that many of you have

heard about the challenges here,

but there is another story to be

told about opportunity that is

created when two countries share an

international frontier and that is

what I'm going to talk about today.

I'm going to tell you about the home that I

love where the seamless Fusion of traditions,

customs and society create a sweet

and relaxing ambrosia where everyone

understands an contributes to an

ever evolving Spanglish language,

a space where Cowboys,

farmers, artisans, builders,

an research physical scientists

are most productive.

Before noon,

a place where almost everyone loves tacos.

A place we call border landia well,

some of us do anyway.

Land of great opportunity.

The USPS is the Science Bureau within

the United States Department of

Interior and just about 25 years ago,

scientists from the USGS subdivided the

International linear border into eight

different shared water resource areas.

In the Eastern Region,

El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico.

This runs parallel along the course of

the Rio Grande in the Western Region.

Water flows North and or South into

the interiors of each country,

creating dependencies on each other

in terms of potential vulnerability

and impacts on natural resources.

My research in the Borderlands has

been focused in the Arizona Sonoran

region in an area referred to as

the Mexican or Apache Highlands.

I have looked at contaminant

transport and mapped colonias which

are vulnerable communities in the

Borderlands that lack adequate housing

or infrastructure of examined and

forecasted Urban Development and

land use change around colonias.

Using various models and investigated

tradeoffs between ecosystem services

being generated and received by

nationally for hundreds of years.

The Borderlands have been home to a

small indigenous and immigrant human

populations in recent years, these.

Population centers have grown the

Mexico United States border is now the

most frequently crossed border in the world.

We do know planning and infrastructure

are hard pressed to keep up with

the expansion of sister city areas,

which is intensified by the

administration variance.

While Urban Development might be the

obvious human disturbance during this

time frame and change in population,

other disturbances include water diversion,

groundwater pumping, livestock grazing,

land clearing, fencing,

the elimination of native species,

and the introduction of non

native animals and plants.

Arid lands constitute the largest

terrestrial Biome on Earth,

home to more than 20% of

the world's population.

You see on this map that the entire US,

Mexico border and much of the Western US is

considered semiarid or arid by definition,

arid lands have limited

rainfall in high temperatures.

The study of Ecohydrology here

provides insight into other biomes

where impacts are less pronounced.

And as you may know,

arid environments are expanding and

my lifetime over the past 50 years,

the United States has warmed by

2.4 degrees Fahrenheit in Tucson.

That's more like 4.3 degrees

Fahrenheit in 2008.

Projected changes in temperature

and precipitation under a suite of

climate models identified the

Borderlands to be a hotspot for

changing climate in the future.

And now we realized that the

Southwestern United States and

Mexico are in already in the start.

Of a mega drought.

A decades long dryspell

punctuated by severe droughts

which began around the year 2000.

Warming incurs a loss of land and

productivity in the Borderlands,

where marginalized communities like

those living in colonias have little

insurance and are not positioned

well to adapt to perils associated

with extreme drought or floods.

The sister city areas of Ambos

Nogales exemplifies these issues.

The Nogales watershed is

about 250 square kilometers,

half of which is in Mexico and half

of which is in the United States.

It is home to over 250,000 people.

What are flows North from Mexico?

And as you can see,

most of the urban area flanks

the Nogales Wash and is situated

in the floodplain that drains

the center of this watershed.

When it rains in Nogales,

Sonora, Mexico,

storm water flows downhill through colonias,

picking up whatever sediment and debris

it's in contact with and transporting

it across the US Mexico border.

While these life sustaining waters are

extremely valuable in extreme events

pictured here on the bottom left,

the stormwater overwhelms the transport

system set in place to handle it,

causing flooding,

which puts livelihoods,

public Health and Human lives at risk.

In 2009, 2010, I began looking at how

to manage international flood hazards

with Gavins wire work containers

filled with rock and modeling their

proposed placement in the watershed.

We used mockups that were supplied by

the city engineers for developing the

Gabby on dimensions to spec to portray

backfilling the channel upstream.

And ran the kinematic runnoff erosion

model to predict Gabby and impact

resulting hydrographs compared the

discharge with no Gabby and a red line.

And if Gabby and is installed at this

location in the blue line in a small

storm pictured here at the Gabby and

reduces the peak flow and similarly

with a little bit larger storm.

The 25 year event.

However, when the big storms come through,

portrayed here with the 100 year event,

the Gabby and is unable to reduce flooding.

Some locations portray structures having

little impact San any size rain events.

We use the model to identify areas

where Gabby and would do the most good.

This is a climate change adaptation

tool where structures can help

mitigate flooding impacts.

I'm getting a text that people

aren't able to see anything,

so I'm not sure. If our.

If our if our.

Things are live OK.

And something we learned that was very

pronounced at all locations is that

the model portrays the Gambians to

be retaining sentiment which stressed

the need for regular maintenance.

As Gabby ANS will likely fill up.

Now I'm going to switch gears for a

minute and tell you about my backyard.

When I first moved to Tucson,

AZ, I was completely bewildered.

When I first saw a bobcat,

and I confess at this time that I literally

said maybe he escaped from the Desert Museum,

which is an amazing zoo.

Amongst other things.

My husband, a native tucsonan,

an avid outdoorsman, laughed at me.

Arizona is home to four species of Wildcats,

bobcat, Puma, osselet and Jaguar.

Though the survival of the latter

two is threatened by habitat loss,

while left, wildlife trafficking

and retaliatory killings.

Now we just happened to stumble across

the hide this high Dan framed photo

when I was at the Game and Fish for

the White Mountain Apache last year,

about 200 miles North of the

US Mexico border.

Apologies for my cellphones glare,

but according to the note in the

photo this animal was taken in 1964.

It is my understanding that this

is the last known female Jaguar

in the United States.

In 1972 the Jaguar was protected

under the Endangered Species Act,

but by 1990 Jaguars were thought to

have been illuminated from the US.

Until 1996, when Warner Glen,

a native Arizona rancher and

Mountain Lion Hunter,

came across an adult male Jaguar

in the policy low mountains and

captured these amazing photos

published in his book Eyes of Fire.

Six months later and 150 miles to the West,

another houndsman,

Jack Childs and Matt Colvin treat

a second Jaguar and the Bachiri

Mountains with pictures published

in a book by he and his wife.

Ambushed on the Jaguar Trail.

These beautiful animals are an

icon of biodiversity and inspires

habitat conservation.

The Jaguar is the largest cat in

the Americas that once roamed as

far North as the Grand Canyon,

but is now endangered in both

the United States and Mexico.

Just last week a study was

published that suggests some of

that historic range is still viable.

Agencies like these,

and I've only copied logos

from the ones that I know of,

but many people are working

to identify and promote safe

passage for Jaguars to travel in.

By allowing non car doors to rewild.

Rewilding means restoring and protecting

natural processes or wilderness areas.

This may include providing

connectivity between such areas and

protecting or reintroducing apex

predators and Keystone species.

Jaguars need a lot of space to sow their

wild oats and corners help connect

some subpopulations to ensure that

their genetic diversity remains robust.

According to the Center

for Biological Diversity,

seven different male Jaguars have

been seen in the United States

at locations identified by Green

Stars in the last 25 years,

all in the Sky Islands are mountain ranges

of the Madrean archipelago ecoregion.

In the last quarter century,

the Jaguars have identified

their preference for the Madrean

archipelago ecoregion,

and they're not the only ones.

Variations until Pog refi an

associated climate enhanced the

biotic richness of these mountain

islands and the surrounding deserts,

and the habitats afforded along

each gradient provide a home

to a huge variety of species.

Conservation International Designated 36

biodiversity hotspots around the world.

These land masses support more than

half of the world's plant species,

an almost half of the bird,

mammal, reptile, and amphibians.

Two of these global hotspots exist in

United States and one is the Madrean

archipelago or Sky Islands region.

The mountains or Sky Islands act

like stepping stones through

the valleys or desert seas,

connecting the Rocky Mountains

to the North and the Sierra Madre

Occidental in Mexico to the South.

Founded in the East by the Chihuahuan

Desert and the Sonoran Desert to the West.

This ecoregion is recognized by the

US Fish and Wildlife Service as

critical habitat for all of these

threatened or endangered species, and more.

Which means it is essential to

these species conservation.

I'm not sure if you know this, but we are.

Entering the sick.

The planets 6th mass extinction thought

to be amplified by human actions and

our expanding industrialized civilization.

This was brought to my attention in a

presentation last month by Doctor Terry Root,

noted climate scientists,

an leading author of the assessment

reports of the Intergovernmental

Panel for Climate Change.

She said that if we add in the IPCC

predictions of arrays and 3.6 degrees,

an additional quarter of the world's

total species will be extricated.

The United Nations have identified

and declared ecosystem services

to be an international priority.

Ecosystem services are the benefits

that people receive from nature.

These, in addition to biodiversity,

are key to sustainable development for

our planet and ecosystems of services.

Approach is portrayed here.

Our natural resources are the capital

we have and that we need science to

understand the services they provide

or benefits need to be properly

evaluated and claim it and land use change.

Are some of the drivers that

can impact these,

but humans have choices about how

their interactions are received.

OK, so humans. In the early 1900s

there was a concerted effort to

remove large predators to make the

American West safer for livestock.

Choppers were hired to kill Jaguars,

Wolves, and other carnivores.

Some of you may be familiar with the

trophic cascade that was documented

at the Yellowstone National Park,

where in the extra patient of

grey Wolves caused price period.

Species like elk to flourish and

their populations cause significant

damage to stream side vegetation's,

which altered morphology and hydrology.

And likewise,

using a bottom up approach we saw that

with the reintroduction of the Wolves,

the prey species were reduced,

allowing the ASP in Willow and

cottonwoods stands to recover,

and the morphology of River

channels to be restored.

Human interactions with this

ecosystem portray serious

repercussions on the biodiversity,

both negative and positive.

In 2013 I met this wonderful

man and very known well known

ecologist Doctor Ron Pulliam,

a retired professor from the

University of Georgia who was

the director and saving grace of

the National Biological Service,

which became the USGS Biological

Resources Division and former

science adviser to Secretary

of Interior Bruce Babbitt.

As a publishing scientist,

I just have to tell you that this one

paper has been cited well over 6000 times.

There is even a paper written about

the 20 year impact of this paper

with estimates of his research being

cited by over 25,000 other papers.

Run Pulliam is undoubtedly one of

the most influential scientists of

our time and has made many profound

contributions to underlying ecological

theories being taught in schools.

Today he is acknowledged as the

father of the source Sink model,

and perhaps as the most enamored

with grassland sparrows.

Ron retired from academia here

in Arizona and founded the Border

Land Restoration Network with

his friend Gary Nabhan,

where they have that beguiled and

enchanted many other smart and

conscious people with exciting

designs for protected areas.

Harvesting of resources and forward

looking grassroots solutions,

I found Ron at Sonoran Institute's

annual Research Meeting,

where he was presenting some of these ideas.

This bottoms up approach from an arid

lands perspective that he was boldly

suggesting that when you affectively

restore streams and watersheds.

And biodiversity increases.

And he was presenting results

from some research he been doing,

looking at habitats developing around.


you might recall that I mentioned the

study I had been doing and Ambos Nogales,

looking at how Gabby ANS could help reduce

floods and capture sediment deposition.

Ryan was describing research he was

doing at Cienega San Bernardino where

large rock structures Gambians were

being installed to restore a wetland.

Under the guidance of this Little

Rock star Flare, Austin Clark,

the layers the founder of Queen

Coloso Hoes Foundation Cielo,

which works to preserve and restore

the biodiversity of the US Mexico

border lands through land protection,

habitat restoration and wildlife.

Introduction she's not only working

on the ground all the time.

But she is also working to

spread information about the

simplicity of using rock detention

structures and the success is being achieved.

She regularly presents her

work at science conferences,

political assemblies in society affairs.

She cited in books, blogs, radio shows,

journals, an regularly in newspapers,

most recently in regard to the

impacts of the US Mexico Wall.

She works with school children,

neighbors, foreign liaisons,

scientists, an indigenous people on

both sides of the US Mexico border.

Fluent in English, Spanish and French,

she is regularly recognized

for her conservation,

work and advocacy.

Most recently as our local genius in Tucson.

In summary,

the layer Austin Clark is a poster child

for restoration of the Sky Islands.

And at that time she and her equally

fabulous husband Josiah Austin,

owned and managed over 200,000 acres of

ranch lands in the Madrean archipelago,

half in the US and half in Mexico.

To put that into perspective,

the sorrow National Park here in two son,

the 41st largest National Park in the US,

is under half that size.

While they have divorced sense,

they still maintain these properties

colored in purple and more

separately and more separately,

all of which are strategically

located between protected lands

in the United States and Mexico.

The Austins have installed thousands

and thousands and thousands of

rock detention structures in their

ecological restoration portfolio.

Rock detention structures are

not a new technology.

Indigenous communities in the Southwestern

US and Mexico had used rocked dams to

grow their crops in control, erosion,

flooding and archaeologists have

identified rock detention structures here,

dating back from 1000 years

before the common era.

In right about here.

In the northern Sierra Madre is where

Aldo Leopold visited in 1936 and

1937 and wrote about the old terrace

builders who are not deceived into

thinking it to be a hard and Stony land.

For they knew it to be, too,

for they knew it by experience

to be a land of milk and honey.

In 2013,

we realized that there were a lot of

people and agencies who are interested

in achieving the same goals we

gathered together in what we called

this Guy Island Restoration Collaborative,

a grassroots consortium working to

share and integrate conservation

efforts and preserve the biodiversity

of the Madrean archipelago ecoregion.

That is,

when I launched the USGS arid

land water harvesting study,

the archaeologist had seen it and the

restoration practitioners were doing it,

but for some reason their approaches

weren't being met were being met with

skepticism and doubt agencies and

funders wanted metrics associated with

products to leverage grant dollars with.

There is a need for research and

applied science that made full use

of modern technology in conjunction

with traditional knowledge.

And so I set out on my mission

to quantify the impacts of rock

detention structures and document any

ecosystem services provided by them.

At the head waters of the Rio

Yaqui Watershed is the largest,

most extensive wetland in the region.

The cienega San Bernardino ownership

and management is divided by the US

Fish and Wildlife Service were at

the San Bernardino National Wildlife

Refuge pictured in blue and by

Cielo South of the border in Orange.

Aside from offering refuge in the

corridors discussed already for

birds and mammals,

Cienega San Bernardino provides a

home for the native fish in the

Rio Yaqui Watershed.

Run and I joined forces here to see

if we could use his knowledge of

vegetation and habitat changes on

the ground with USGS capabilities

to step back in time using Landsat

satellite imagery to analyze changes

at and around Gabby, Onze specifically,

we examined the differences in plant

reflectance captured by satellites

to assess the density of live green


for the years 1984 through 2011.

Managers at both the San Bernardino

National Wildlife Refuge an Cielo property

had been installing Gabby and structures

in an around the historic cienega.

We partitioned out areas to observe

those that were treated with Gavins

and selected areas that hadn't been

as controls over the 27 year study,

we documented that vegetation died

or declined at most of our controls.

Targets correlating with the

kinds in precipitation.

But vegetation was maintained

an improved that most of our

targets treated with structures

despite the drought conditions.

I want to call your attention here to the

arid land environment that we live in.

The structures were proven to be

a mitigation strategy to better

utilize less precipitation,

a climate climate adaptation

strategy for the region.

We then extended our study to

examine upstream and downstream

and included an additional index to

tease out the wetland signatures.

This was based on the research

that Natalie Wilson had explored

previously and her Masters thesis.

Our analysis reiterated the potential

of structures to support healthy

vegetation that we had seen before,

and it extended our results to include

areas up to five kilometers downstream

of structures in one kilometre upstream.

Now just up the Hill from the cienega.

San Bernardino is the Malpai ranch,

where Warner and his late wife

Wendy Glenn had set up house.

You might remember Warner from his

run in with the Jaguar back in 1996.

Malpi is a Spanish word that means

Badlands and defines the rough

country underlain by dark lava

and volcanic landforms.

A lot of things are actually happening

in the 90s with and around the Glens,

quite notably the Malpai Borderlands

Group originated in 1994 when The Nature

Conservancy purchased a conservation

easement on the massive Gray ranch.

Since then,

the group has coordinated and

expanded their conservation property

management to nearly 2,000,000 acres.

This group of Cowboys,

ranchers and conservationists work

together and collaborate with environmental

scientists and government agencies

in what they call the radical center.

To create sustainable management plans,

this top picture was taken in

the Glens Barn in 1995 and the

picture below is more recent.

Working with the Malpai,

the USDA and BLM wanted to restore stream

function and slow water down on the

Malpai Ranch before it reached the cienega.

San Bernardino then close the

Air restoration practitioner.

An noted author who wrote Let the

water do the work was contacted

to develop a plan for restoration.

Here's one of the many treatments

he prescribed called a plug in

Pantai project where he plug this

straight away gully.

See the mapped yellow area

funneled water into a pond.

And induce meander into the Wildcat

Draught tributary green of Silver Creek,

using rock structures and

vegetations to guide it.

I'm going to zoom in here to this little

spot to show you how that worked.

And Natalie will send it had

photo documented the vegetation

response at structures.

This picture was from 2015,

looking downstream at a raw skin

cross vein with second on plugs.

You can see the channel area

there then was pretty barren.

These are one rock dam style structures

angled so flow is diverted over

the rock walls and concentrated

down the center of the channel.


here's a picture taken from the exact

same spot two years later and after it

had been treated with second on plugs.

And here in 2018,

three years later,

Natalie's documented a strong

annual response,

specifically an amaranth and pigweed,

in addition to sacaton survival.

This vegetation,

sediment and water are starting to function

like wetlands on the Malpai Ranch.

Natalie has been repeat visiting most

of the study sites I'm presenting today,

collecting ground reference data to

monitor vegetation change for the

past five years,

she's been analyzing and documenting

response at many types of structures,

and is about to release a giant datasets.

She's compiled as part of the arid

land Water Harvesting project.

Her preliminary results confirm increased

short term local responsive vegetation

at rock the tension structures.

In addition to quantifying the

density of vegetation on the ground,

she's also classifying species and

has noted some new water obligates

popping up around study sites

where they hadn't previously been.

These plants are associated with

prolonged saturation or flooding

that you'd see in wetlands.

Moving West is the cultivating

and captivating Cate Tyrion,

founder and executive director of the

Deep Dirt Farm Institute in Patagonia,

Arizona where she teaches arid lands.

Permaculture with the focus

on youth empowerment.

Kate noticed active and aggressive erosion,

Anna tributary of her property

and was interested to utilized

the rock detention structures that

she'd seen installed by Ceelo to

help mitigate the gully formation.

Our friends Steven Whitney the

long helped acquire a very high

resolution before scan to preserve

dimensions of the base conditions.

This is a little movie that portrays

some of the data that was captured using

light in the form of a pulsed laser to

measure variable distances to a surface.

From this a bare earth digital terrain

model was developed using the exact

dimensions of the gullies topography.

I use the high resolution DTM in the

killer was model to solve partial

differential equations for a series

of precipitation events and determine

the potential runoff and sediment

yield forcing to build the structures

for Borderlands Restoration Network

director at the time Doctor David Seibert

worked with Kate and others to install

several structures and Bone Creek,

including one rock dams check

dams and one Gabby,

and to moderate flow velocities.

Arrest gully erosion.

An encourage sediment deposition.

And then Joe Sankey and David Dean

came down from the USGS and went back

out to capture the repeat scans of the

gully after structures had been installed.

From this you can see the changes in erosion,

deposition, overtime,

how the Gabby on feature controlled

erosion and halted the gully development.

I ran another time.

I ran another model,

the International River Interface

Cooperative called Irick needs to

DH solver to test and compare the

predictions of bedform shift with our

findings in the field using lighter.

The resulting change in elevation

from the model follows the trends

identified and that terrestrial LIDAR

data set with matching patterns of

erosion in red and deposition and blue.

Particle tracking afforded in the Iraq model

is useful to identify settlement movement.

San portrayed the weak area of the

Gabby on that would eventually breach.

Model results also predict increased

duration and depths of water standing

pools and decreased velocity in curd.

By Gabby on installations the new structures

were mitigating impacts of flood events.

This video and the Chair Acoua Mountains

was taken on a perennial reach.

And portrays flash flooding

downstream rot with sediment and

debris in the desert Southwest.

Our rainfall comes in fits and spurts.

Feast or famine.

Sometimes when a rainfall

event in the mountains occurs,

we see a delayed but then

flashy runoff response impact.

The stream flows.

Then you blink and it's over.

IL Carnota Ranch just up the Hill from this.

Josiah and Blair had installed thousands

of check dams in a tributary called

Turkey Pen to slow water down arrest

channel Downcutting and reduced

sediment transport in the watershed.

There were rumors that we had heard

about this Oasis in the chair.

Acoua is in questions about its existence.

They were finding that the area that had

been treated with check dams was maintaining

water in it where it hadn't before.

We developed a study to to examine

the rainfall runoff responsible

watershed treated with check dams,

the Turkey pen and an adjacent

watershed which had none. Rock Creek.

A classic paired watershed study.

We mapped 2000 check dams in the watershed

with help from volunteers Joan and Kathleen.

Some older structures were

completely buried in.

There's there are new

structures built on top,

but there are structures everywhere.

Working with such a brinkerhoff from the

Arizona Water Science Center and Evan

Williams from the National Park Service,

we install the stream gauge to monitor

the rainfall runoff response at

outlets that both of these watersheds

over the course of one rainy season.

Products were used to describe

aspects of hydrologic condition

that influence stream ecosystems.

Overall variability stream flashiness

in the duration of response.

We found that the treated watershed with

that had been treated with detention

structures had a reduced rate of flow.

Those flashy flood events were

reduced by half,

yet also portrayed 28% more volume than

the untreated watershed and portrayed

extended timing of summer base flows.

So again the structures are a

climate mitigation strategy that

reduce flooding but also harvest,

rainfall and augment water supplies

during the low flow season we hypoth.

It says that the perennial pools

of water that have formed behind

structures create multiple small

perched water tables underground

that slowly release water.

Which leads me to the public Amari

Ranch owned and operated by the

Brophy family since 1935 in the

by National San Pedro Watershed.

28,000 acre land parcel is the largest

contiguous private land parcel in Arizona,

managed with a commitment to conservation,

stewardship, wildlife and cattle.

Together with Borderlands

Restoration and Cielo,

we developed a proposal to test

the extent to which rock detention

structures were impacting infiltration

and could hold ultimately help

recharge the groundwater aquifer.

In our research was funded by

the Walton Family Foundation.

1st Doctor Laura Locker an I ran and

coupled surface water and groundwater

models to identify locations where

surface to groundwater injection might

be more receptive at these locations.

Gavins and many other various structures

were installed by Borderlands Restoration

Network under the direction of Trevor, her.

USGS mentored a student Miss Chloe Fan,

Dell, who is working on her Masters

degree at the time and acquired field

measurements at and around Gambians.

Her research demonstrated increased

soil moisture at Gabba Gabba eons,

averaging about 10% increase in

infiltration at structures when interwoven

with the larger watershed model.

I estimated the potential of watershed

wide Gabby and installation could increase

total aquifer recharge by at least 4%,

with noted increases at structures

and subsurface connectivity.

And accentuated lateral flow contributions.

The model portrayed increased

soil water storage at Gavins.

Going back to our paired watershed study,

you can clearly see that the water

in the Turkey pen treated with

check dams is more clear.

The more total suspended solids in the water,

the murkier it seems an.

The higher the turbid itty

portrayed on the left are control.

Trinity is considered as a good measure

of water quality throughout the world.

Erosion control structures are

installed to capture sediment.

In fact,

that is the number one reason

that they have been used.

This study was to evaluate the amount

of potential settlement being captured

by structures in the watershed.

I calibrated the soil and water

assessment tool using the discharge

measurements we collected from the

field to extrapolate and extend

the analysis over a three year

simulation to examine the impact

of structures on sediment yield.

Model results depict up minimum

precipitation event of 15 millimeters

a little more than 1/2 of an inch to

instigate the detachment of soil,

sediment or rock from the study area

which in curd about 2% of the time.

Mean annual soil losses.

The treated mean annual soil lesson

that Rita Watershed was predicted to

be about 792 tons per year or 210

tons of sediment was estimated to be

stored behind check dams per year.

It would take about five years for the

structures to capture 1000 tons of sediment,

which is how much this Boulder waves.

We began thinking about the properties of

all that soil working with James Calgary,

a soils hydrologist at the USGS.

We wrote a proposal,

an were funded by the Land Carbon

Program in the USGS to investigate

biological angio chemical

processes at restoration sites.

We collected soils all around structures.

El Coronado Ranch and analyzed isotope ratios

of carbon and nitrogen to characterize

the potential for all soil carbon

storage storage behind the structures.

Using the sentiment yield estimates

derived from my calibrated SWAT

model and taking into account the

size of the watershed and number of

structures that that we had calculated,

the rate of carbon capture for rock

detention structures is about 200

to 250 metric tons per hectare.

That is equivalent to what is

stored in wetlands Now in James.

First said that, my ears perked up wetlands.

Petland is an antonym for arid land.

OK, so to summarize,

so far I've shown you scientific

study in resulting evidence that rock

detention structures in the Madrean

archipelago detained flashy floodwaters,

hold soil in place,

increased soil water storage,

promote vegetation viability,

and sequester carbon.

Now I'll go one step further.

Rock detention structures are effectively

creating freshwater wetlands,

distinct ecosystems flooded by

water in arid lands.

These are called cienega's,

some by restoring historic cienega's,

but others are creating knew wetland

like ecosystems in riparian channels

and the development of cienega's with

their suite of well known ecosystem services.

Is marketable.

Now, these experiments were all designed

to quantify biophysical results,

input numbers to the things that the layer

and Ron were already telling everyone about.

But we felt we were missing a human

component to describe how people feel

about restoration and land conservation,

we wanted to document the strong

response that people have when they

see these structures bring water

back to the landscape without hosting

it or for everyone in the world,

we turned to the solves model

developed by the USGS to guide us.

In 2016 and 17,

Oliver lice out who was an economics

student intern at Borderlands Restoration,

an working with Biophilia, created a

study to administer to a pilot group,

the town of Patagonia, Arizona,

and sent it out to 665 people in

the watershed of Snow did Creek.

Each respondent was asked to assign a

collection of 100 points for whichever

of the 12 social values listed here

that they felt were important to

them and draw the locations where

they're assigned values occur.

Donna paper map.

Then Roy Petrakis, a USGS, geographer.

Use the solves model to Mount Penteli.

The surveys response data in relationship

to environmental geospatial data to

quantify spatially explicit outputs

of the perceived social values.

Summed in the map on the left,

established riparian areas had the

highest value across the watershed.

People were valuing water in the riparian

restoration effort effects when compared

with the land ownership map on the right.

We also found that land set aside

for conservation or easements are

the most important to the town.

We conclude that this type of valuation

could be very useful to identify new

lands to set aside for conservation that

would represent the communities values.

And garner public support,

which leads me over to the Cienega Ranch.

Or just say Austin has been working

tirelessly to revive his property and

preserve it to make homes for all the birds,

bats, fish frogs, bugs,

snakes, turtles,

lizards and mammals around while

running a full on cattle ranch.

He is an active phased plan of

conservation easements to secure

the land and is expanding,

removing fences and practicing

a later grazing rotation.


he is making water drinkers available

throughout the ranch for Livestock

and wildlife and investing an

extensive watershed restoration.

Une Cienega Ranch in Cienega Creek.

Joe has been working to harvest

and detain spring discharge and

rainfall runoff to augment base

flow and slowly leak out to restore

and sustain the wetland cienega

that is the ranches namesake.

Using these rock detention structures

that he calls a leaky we're.

These structures are situated

and cemented in bedrock,

but designed to leak as you can

see from the resulting pool

being fed downstream to my dog.

USGS is expanding our experiments

to quantify the impacts of these

structures and the hydrologic budget

and working with partners at Adeq,

who collected water samples

downstream from a we're finding 0 E.

Coli despite cattle grazing upstream.

We are investigating the potential of

these structures to filter pollutants.

Peter Warren,

a scientist at The Nature Conservancy and

number of the Malpai Borderlands Group,

recently wrote that Cienega Ranch

is part of the Terakawa landscape,

which contiguous with the Malpai area.

An when considered together,

almost doubles the size of the

regions undeveloped wild area,

and I would add to you today that if

you include the land being protected

South of the border by Cielo,

an Janos Biosphere Reserve,

it just might be more than tripled.

In the Sky Island,

stepping stone is protected in

these conserved landscapes on both

sides of the international border.

In fact,

all of the ranches and landscapes

I've discussed today.

So far today, make up a larger

patchwork conservation quilt where

partners are doing everything

they can and then linking hands to

try to save this special place.

All of the research I have presented in

the arid land water harvesting study are

dependent on partners at the Cirque.

The USGS is not a landowning or

management agency with no expensive

outdoor laboratories.

We are also not professional

restoration practitioners with no

training or experience in building

rock detention structures.

We are scientists working with

other scientists and are trying

to respond to stakeholder needs.

Interest in adaptive management,

protecting biodiversity and conservation

of their land circus founded on this shared.

Vision of preserving biodiversity and

the concept of developing a restoration

economy where ecological and socio

economic benefits are interconnected

and complementary and people are part

of the working sustainable ecosystem.

I should pause here to mention that the

search effort and maybe the acronym had a

lot of driving force from this Mama bear.

Michelle Gerard.

Who recently retired from the Forest Service.

Michelle is still working,

wearing various hats in her

retirement to continue this mission.

A great example of how the circus

being integrated began when

Coronado National Forest manager saw

the success Al Coronado Ranch,

where USGS had documented increased water

availability resulting from their check dams.

Michelle asked me to present the larger

watershed model of that era, comma,

mountains to the Douglas district.

The Ranger at the time, Kevin Warner,

use the results to select areas with

moderate sediment yield to install

new structures on the Forest Service

land and to identify environmental

impacts with the ******.

Analysis they needed.

Then the Sky Island Alliance and

Borderlands Restoration Network installed

a series of rock detention structures

training volunteers from Mexico were shown.

The Borderlands Earth Care youth

group and also a prison work crew

all separately and were able to

create this beautiful.

Channel and another example,

Cirque partners,

under the charge of Deborah Taslan

at the Bureau of Reclamation merged

with climate scientists from Northern

Arizona University and restoration

practitioners from Natural Channel

design to test and document structures

outside of the Sky Islands in the

City of Phoenix, AZ.

One of the hottest cities in the

United States.

Results from this research mimic the

results we've seen in the Madrean

with decreases in peak flows.

An increases in infiltration at structures.

Results also suggest a three degree

microcline microclimate cooling

effect for at least two days following

rainfall events at treated sites.

This climate mitigation strategy of

installing rock detention structures

would likely have cumulative cooling effects,

and our preliminary findings are

extremely promising.

So here we are.

Throughout my talk I have been

describing years of scientific research,

analyzing impacts, attract attention

structures documented by the USGS,

arid land water harvesting study

and introducing these results in

terms of major ecosystem services,

summarized and published last year.

The ecosystem services are flood detention,

habitat provisioning, water,

an erosion regulation,

carbon sequestration,

and social value.

I've also given some examples where

this research is being used to make

decisions by land and water resource

managers, public and private.

But maybe you're asking yourself how

does this matter to you at home right now,

or as an ornery ornithologist in my

office used to say what's in it for me?

Well, to remind you,

an ecosystem services approach starts

with understanding how nature works.

In this case, rock detention structures,

then putting value on nature

services as of described during this

presentation and then involving

people in the next couple slides.

I'm going to explore some examples

of potential market based solutions.

Credit for trade for which this

science might be applied,

and this is where you Mr and

Mrs John Q Public come in.

Mitigation banking is a system

of credits and debits where if

development causes the loss of

ecological function at one place.

The developer then restores preserves

or creates wetlands streams or other

similar habitat at another place and

this is overseen by a Regulatory agency.

To compensate the footprint of development.

This is something that floodplain

floodplain managers and restoration

practitioners are very familiar with,

so I was thinking about this and wondering

about just one human footprints.

Is there a way to identify for art

impacts and try to compensate for them?

In this example,

if we go back to the study we did on

carbon sequestration potential when I

really think about our results that

say approximately 100 tons of organic

carbon are being rescued per structure,

that sounds like a lot.

And it is.

But please consider that in one

year the average citizen in an

industrialized country produces

about 10 tons of carbon emissions.

So the quick math from my almost 50

year old self is that I would need to

build and maintain 5 check dams like

this to compensate for my carbon footprint.

But what if I don't own property like this?

And what if I don't know how or have time

or like building rock detention structures?


perhaps there is a group of

people who specialize in building

wrap detention structures.

Maybe they could be convinced

to build extra rock detention

structures and then trade some chips

with them to build some cover.

My personal footprint for over

for little cost comparison.

I asked Kurt von the director at

Borderlands Restoration Network how much

they charge to install a check dam.

He said that while it depends

approximately 75 to $100 per structure.

And then I was thinking if some

people have a lot to give,

they could donate lots of chips

into this system to

promote the welfare of

others in the planet Earth.

Maybe even a group of young workers

could be trained and paid the bill.

Drug detention structures structures

the way that the CCC did back in the

1930s with the structures that we still

see intact on the landscape today.

We are working with the Biophilia Foundation

and other partners to consider how a

carbon market might valuate restoration.

Using rock detention structures so

that people and businesses could

try to compensate for their carbon

footprint via other incentives.

One of our partners in Mexico,

Jose Manuel from Cielo brought

this idea of blue carbon up.

Given his familiarity with the cap

and trade emissions trading scheme

that was recently launched.

Launched in Mexico,

the first emissions trading

scheme pilot in Latin America.

Wild blue carbon generally depicts

coastal or marine wetlands.

It has been documented that

freshwater wetlands actually store

more carbon than estuary and types.

If you look at the average ecosystem

service value per area per land type,

according to researchers at

the Trust for Public Lands,

we see that the wetlands have more economic

value than bear grasslands shrublands.

And for the most part than

urban areas or agriculture.

So restoring historic Cienega's contributes

to the well being of all people.

And if you go back to my theory that

rocked attention structures are

creating wetlands and arid lands

land owners who are installing

these structures are creating gains.

For humankind, which could be incentivized.

This week we celebrated World Water

Day to raise awareness of people

living without access to safe water.

The annual theme established by the

United Nations in 2021 is valuing water.

If people want to reduce and offset

their water footprints moving forward

towards a balance of water neutrality,

you can address supply, demand,

or both.

On the demand side,

you can manage the number of people or

per capita use on the supply side are USGS.

Science shows that installing rock

detention structures is a strategy that

can improve water provisioning services,

which could help compensate

people's water footprints.

A goal of net zero can also help

communities to be more resilient.


in the case of rock detention structures,

there's no downsides.

The ecosystem services are not exclusive,

but rather additive.

There are no trade off to justify

one versus the other,

so along with the benefits of carbon

sequestration and water provisioning,

the whole suite of ecosystem

services come along.

And, as I've demonstrated,

this is an ecosystem based approach

to climate change adaptation that

is supported by science.

Unprotected private lands are losing

habitat for threatened and endangered

species twice as fast as federal lands.

The potential to leverage funding

from ecosystem services and carbon

offset markets could help conserve

private lands in the state of Colorado.

Researchers found that for every dollar

invested in conservation programs,

there is a four to $12.00 return

and ecosystem services.

As the public good of ecosystem

services is recognized,

land conservation and sustainable

stewardship could be incentivized

to help

offset lots of our collective footprints.

The United Nations are already recognizing

ecosystem services and natural capital.

When measuring economic prosperity

and well being going beyond the gross

domestic product ecosystem accounts

have been established for 34 countries

already and on June 5th the UN is

launching a decade of ecosystem

restoration to increase international

cooperation in combating climate

change and safeguarding biodiversity.

This aligns with their convention

on Biological Diversity's goal to

protect 30% of the Earth by 2030.

In January, the Biden Harris administration

declared a goal for the United States

to conserve 3rd 30 by 30 as well.

Conservation of land and water

and the Madrean archipelago,

one of the world's precious 36

biodiversity hotspots is paramount.

To ensure that when our children

and our children's children

drive up this road in 25 years.

They have the privilege to witness all of

these amazing creatures doing their thing.

It is critical to preserve the

potential medical solutions,

economic development and adaptation.

Adaptive responses in the natural

world that we have yet to discover.

My research documents that by restore.

Watersheds using rock detention structures.

Water can be preserved and land can

be conserved to allow the ecosystems

to heal and become more resilient,

and by allowing these special

areas to rewild,

we acknowledge and safeguard this precious

space and allow are apex predators.

To come home to the Bio region where

the only Jaguar in the United States

has been living for the past four years

and I'm guessing that he is lonely.

Our science can inform these

efforts in the first three years,

Cirque documented combined

projects via annual reports.

By 2016,

we've grown to 40 agencies

and over 123 people,

and we're still growing at that time,

all piece meal together from the whole

suite of agencies and shoestring budgets.

Cirque estimated exceeding

$2,000,000 per year.

We've evolved into a large scale restoration

initiative with demonstrated economic value.

Last year,


Michelle and I hosted a special issue

of air soil and water to showcase

some of the fruits of our labours,

which should be complete.

This month partners developed manuscripts

describing historic wildfires and risks,

planting pellets to support pollinators,

impacts of restoration on vegetation

and birds documenting the need for

wildlife corridors for busy roadways

and describing the Borderlands.

Earthcare Youth Institute,

along with some of the articles

have already presented.

These are all available online now.

The effects of restoration using Rep

detention structures on hydrology,

geomorphology and vegetation

have been quantified,

translated into ecosystem services and

shared in the publications I've referenced

from the arid land water Harvesting study,

these papers are being cited by

scientists from Canada, Chile, Peru,

China, Egypt, Italy and Spain,

the Czech Republic, Colombia, France,

Portugal, Mexico, Republic of Korea,

the UK, Netherlands, Brazil, Syria.

Africa, Malaysia, Iran, Tanzania,

India and Saudi Arabia.

We hope that the lessons learned

from the US Mexico border can be

adopted and supported to enable other

vulnerable communities of drylands to

become more climate resilient and to

preserve biodiversity for future generations.

That is all I have for tonight,

but before you go I want to introduce

to you some of the stars of my show

who I haven't already bragged about.

These are the puzzle pieces of my story.

The folks who are putting in extra hours an

lending their skills to make a difference,

and I hope that if you're looking for

yourself that you see you, but if not,

hopefully you are here or you should be.

And if it sounds like I'm just describing

my friends in this presentation,

it's because they are.

These are some of my very best friends,

colleagues and neighbors

the scientists restoration.

Is managers an carrying stakeholders of

the Sky Island Restoration Collaborative?

Thank you.

Thank you, Laura.

That was quite an impressive top.

You pretty much covered.

I think every machine area that the

USDA is has and between you and your

colleagues and all the partners together,

may you continue to do all this

wonderful and fantastic work and bring

it all to us to share as you did today.

Now we're going to take a quick moment here.

We're going to open it up to Q&A for anybody

who will have a question out there for Laura.

I'm gonna remind everyone that

if you want to ask a question,

you can do so by cooking cure.

Chat. Icon on the upper right

hand corner of your screen.

If you are on your mobile device,

you can click on the question Mark

icon located on the upper right

hand corner of the screen as well

and submit your questions and

just give everyone a moment here.

That was all fantastic. Laura.

Thank you so much for giving

us your talk today.

Let's see here.

Alright. Alright,

nobody's come through just yet, but.

Let's give you a moment or I know

you've been doing a lot of talking.

They can also put out a quick reminder

to everyone to join us next month

for our lecture with Mike Tischler.

He's going to he's the director of the

National Geospatial Program with the USGS,

and he's going to give his

talk on April 22nd. Uhm?

So let's see what we've got here.

We have a question.

They say Laura such interesting

information and creative outlook for

a large scale restoration in Arizona.

Do you think rock detention structures

as carbon offsets will become a reality?

I hope so this happening in other

countries and we're working on it

right now so I do. I do think so, yes.

OK, let's see. Now everyone is

saying thank you for your work.

There are plotting you virtually.

Lots of good stuff that you cover today.

Let's see here that does.

I have a quick question.

Does the Jaguar have a name?

The Jaguar that's in the United States

right now I don't think has a name,

but there was just a Jaguar that was cited

South of the border and the Cielo property.

That has a name and his name is El Bonito.

Means the beautiful one or the pretty one,

right? Yeah, we got a question here.

Someone was asking are there areas where

check dams wouldn't be appropriate?

Yes definitely yeah. They you know I like.

I said I'm not a restoration practitioner,

but having hung around them for awhile,

it does seem that when you walk a channel,

different practitioners will identify

different restoration techniques.

Depending on the types of soils

and vegetation slope of the area.

So all of that would need to be

scoped out very very well before hand.


You're getting thank you for all

of your work just to let you know,

a lot of people appreciate your work,

so one is asking was a term describing

arid lands arid land wetlands cienega's

I'm so scenic as our wetlands that

are in this neck of the Woods,

so they're an interchangeable word.

Really, as far as I can tell.

You know,

finding cienega's or wetlands in

arid lands is pretty exciting. OK.

And someone is asking approximately how

many check walls are there in Arizona?

I have no idea. Yes, there's.

There's a lot.

Partners properties there's you

know thousands and thousands.

And then there were.

I think that was put in by

the CCC back in the 30s,

but since then and before that there's

been different structures put into place.



Well, Laura, I think that's

it for this evening. You did.

Wonderful thank you so much again

everyone for joining us out there.

Virtually live.

We do this for the prior

technical difficulties we.

This was our first one.

So thank you again all for

your patience and Laura.

Thank you too for working with

us and your patience as well.

Well, everyone I hope can you come

back next month on April 22nd at

7:00 o'clock PM Pacific Time and

until next time please join us.

And oh,

don't forget to please visit our

website where Laura's lecture

will be posted later for on demand

viewing at LS.

Thank you and goodnight.