Biophilia Foundation and Borderlands Restoration: Making Connections
Biologists have long recognized the importance of connections between the biological diversity of the Sky Islands and that of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. Many separate scientific analyses of the region have come to the same conclusion: the biological diversity of the individual mountain ranges is in peril if the migratory linkages among them are jeopardized. A wildlife corridor acts in two ways to benefit wildlife; as habitat, and as a passage between areas of developed land. Biophilia Foundation is a founding and active partner of Borderlands Restoration.
Borderlands Restoration, L3C
The mission of Borderlands Restoration is to reconnect wildlife, land, and people in the Arizona/Sonora Borderland region by involving people in restoring the ecosystem on which we depend.
How we do it
Borderlands Restoration L3C, is the first limited-profit company in Arizona with activities directed toward a state-defined “social good”—in this case, ecological restoration, education, and job creation at the nexus of local border concerns, managing agency dictates, and research-based ecology.
The L3C designation enables the organization to grow and sell native plants and socio-ecological consulting and habitat restoration services, for example, but also to receive cash investments from supporters who hope for a modest 2–3% return. By agreement, profits beyond that amount are plowed back into continued care for the social and physical landscapes through expanded capacity and job opportunities. Paired with our non-profit sister organization, Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative, the tandem offers a wide-ranging and flexible set of conduits through which multiple social justice, economic, and ecological interests can respond to conditions in the politically fraught and biologically diverse U.S.-Mexico border region.
The grasslands, woodlands, and cienegas of the borderlands of southern Arizona and northern Sonora once supported exceptionally rich natural areas teeming with wildlife. Ground water withdrawals, overgrazing, and poor mining and agricultural practices over the course of two centuries left this area severely degraded. Many formerly perennial streams dried up and vegetative cover declined to the point where the sparse vegetation could no longer slow runoff. High-energy flooding left behind highly eroded streambeds. Wildlife declined, grasslands lost much of their soil, and, in many places, native grasses were lost and replaced by invasive thorn scrub.
Borderlands Restoration has developed a unique approach to ecosystem restoration based on the experiences of Cuenca los Ojos and other restoration efforts in the region. CLO has constructed tens of thousands of berms, gabions and small rock dams to restore natural water flow. These structures slow the flow of water and stabilize the creeks, increase infiltration, and allow sediments to accumulate.
Despite the drought conditions of the past decade, streams are once again flowing and vegetation and wildlife are returning. CLO is also restoring thousands of acres of shrub-invaded grasslands by removing thorn scrub and replanting with native grasses. In less than five years, the grasses and many native animal species are becoming reestablished. In addition to restoring upland streams and grasslands, CLO is restoring the Rio San Bernardino in northeastern Sonora– already the results are apparent, with perennial stream flow returning to a five mile stretch of the river and over 2000 acres of new riparian vegetation.