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National Parks Store: Colorado Delta

Presented by Fátima Luna

Hear Fátima Luna explain the restoration of a critical habitat.

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One hundred years ago, the Colorado Delta covered 3,000 square miles of riparian and wetland habitat that supported plant, bird and marine life. Since the 1960s, the river has not regularly flown to the sea and today the Delta is about 10% of its original size. Conservation efforts in the last decade have shown that the Delta is a remarkably resilient ecosystem, being home to more than 380 bird species and 30,000 migratory water birds. Given this resiliency, Sonoran Institute has work for 17 years on Delta conservation to benefit the people and the environment by (1) restoring the natural habitat through on-the-ground restoration, (2) renewing individual and community relationships with the river and promote long-term stewardship through community engagement; and (3) reconnecting the river to the sea by developing innovative mechanisms to secure water for the Delta.

The success of Delta conservation efforts, in part, motivated a historic agreement in November 2012 between the United States and Mexico to bring water back to the Colorado River in Mexico. Known as Minute 319, the binational agreement temporarily dedicates water flows to the Colorado River Delta for environmental purposes and also promotes healthy Delta ecosystems by implementing water management strategies and enhancing on-the-ground restoration efforts. On March 23, 2014, a “pulse flow” was released, mimicking, in a small scale, the spring floods that historically occurred on the Colorado River. Once again, the Colorado River reclaimed its corridor in Mexico, transforming the landscape. Eight weeks later, on May 15, the fresh water of the Colorado reached the Upper Gulf of California, in a long-awaited reunion.

In addition to being part of a team of scientists that monitor the impact and benefits of the pulse flow on the region’s natural systems, Sonoran Institute is leading the on-the-ground restoration efforts in the area. With over 450 acres of riparian habitat either restored or undergoing restoration at our site, Laguna Grande, we are over halfway to our 2017 goal of restoring 750 acres of riparian habitat through a combination of hands-on restoration work and the natural germination of native plants made possible by the pulse flow. We are implementing new restoration techniques and incorporating research on the region’s native plants into our restoration designs. As one of the few green open spaces in the region, the Laguna Grande community park is now a birding hotspot for resident and migratory birds.

Hear Fátima Luna explain the restoration of this critical habitat.

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Event Tags: Colorado River, environment, free, presentation, restoration, the West

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
The National Parks Store
12880 N. Vistoso Village Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85755 United States
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