Sustaining the Cienega Watershed is critical for unique and nationally-recognized ecological components, to ensure water for the Tucson basin, to valued resources ranging from grassland to historic properties, and for public use and enjoyment. Repeated watershed surveys have identified stressors and challenges to the watershed as:
- Water quality and quantity
- Decreasing wildlife habitat and corridors
- Invasive species and threats to biodiversity
- Climate change
- Urbanization around the fringes and development such as mining within the watershed
- Impacted historic resources
- Capacity for recreation and environmental education
- Border-related issues
- Public policies;
- Lack of connections for newer residents and youth to the watershed
In fact, during the 2010 State of the Watershed and the 2013 Climate Change Scenario Planning for the watershed, connections to communities over the next 100 years was repeatedly identified as a key to watershed resilience in the face of uncontrollable and high-risk threats.
Efforts to meet current and future challenges include collaboration among stakeholders, applied science and management strategies, climate change planning, specific projects to reduce threats and restore habitats, and stewardship by stakeholder, citizens and youth.
Due to efforts over the last decade, the Cienega Watershed Partnership and 20 partners, including those involved in this project, were recognized in January 2014 with the Secretary of the Interior’s Partners in Conservation Award. For youth, this existing collaboration has translated into having willing and knowledgeable scientists and managers directly involved in the youth engaged stewardship activities.
Engagement in stewardship is more than a general realization that the future of the watershed depends on education and appreciation. CWP has identified these keys for sustainability success:
- Assessing and monitoring watershed health
- Understanding key natural land cultural components
- On-the-ground targeted projects;
- Involvement of key stakeholders, scientists and the public
- Cross-jurisdiction or larger landscape coordination and decision-making
- Collaboration on all scales
What have we missed?
Photo courtesy Cienega Watershed Partnership.