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  This Issue:
   From Me to You
   Calendar of Events
   Things to Expect & Do
   Word Wise
   Ask A Gardener
   Tomatoes in the
              Desert Garden
   Creating A Butterfly
   Sacred Datura:
              Moonlight Magic
   Computer Corner
   Book Review
   Stories to Delight
              Young Readers
   New Publications
   BCI Celebrates 20th
   Garden Recycling
   Designing Your Own
              Desert Oasis
   Herbs for the Bath
             Evergreen Trees
   Center for Native &
              Urban Wildlife
   January Citrus Clinic

Master Gardener Journal  

E A R T H - F R I E N D L Y   G A R D E N I N G

Center for Native and Urban Wildlife

by Chris Schneir,
Master Gardener

Sitting on a boulder at the edge of a small pond, I watch desert pupfish glide and dart in the shade of sheltering cattails, their neon blue a sharp contrast to the ebony tadpoles and tobacco-colo red snails investigating submerged moss-covered rocks. Trickling waters feed grass-like Huachuca water umbel and flowering water lilies, attracting a mourning dove who deftly negotiates the rocky shore to dip her beak at midday.

I recently got to enjoy such rare sights, along with face-to-face meetings with a desert tortoise and a shy Gila monster, during a visit to the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. The center is located at Scottsdale Community College. Take the 101 to Chaparral and go east to the SCC campus. No student ID is required-just a respect for nature. Professor Roy Barnes of CNUW was kind enough to give me a tour of the wildlife sanctuary the day I was there.

"When the Ecology Club suggested incorporating some native plants on campus, I had the idea we'd plant a few mesquite trees and that would probably be the end of the project," Roy said with a soft laugh. By time he and I were finished with our tour, I could understand the irony of what those "few mesquite trees" had blossomed into in two short years.

It's been a busy time for Roy and his hardworking crew-growing, planting, building, fundraising, recruiting, and teaching-most of all teaching. The following quote graces one of the center's brochures:

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught"

Senegalese ecologist
Teaching, then, is main tool CNUW is using to achieve its ultimate goal of conservation. So far, over 2,000 fourth graders have taken the 3-hour field trip that CNUW offers to local schools. At one of the first stops at the center, Toad Hall, students view a mural with 25 native animals shown in their desert habitats, and are asked to find and identify each of the 25. "How can you care about something if you don't know what it is-or perhaps don't even know that it exists?" asks the center's Stacy Pratt.

While at Toad Hall children also get to view a Gila monster, a whiptail lizard , and many other live creatures. Docents talk about animal support systems- food, water, and nesting sites. Kids learn that these fascinating creatures cannot survive if their habitat is destroyed.

Throughout the day, contemporary science issues are mentioned: how a greenhouse works, global amphibian decline, and the significance of plant pollinators. Children learn about biodiversity. They take important steps toward understanding our desert habitat.

Marine biologist, teacher, and student Mark Harding heads up the center's education efforts. A new project Mark is working on entails putting together "Learning Boxes." Each box contains desert-related materials-animal puppets, books, magazines, bird skulls, and feathers. Since Arizona's fourth grade curriculum includes learning about the desert as one of its objectives, these boxes will be loaned out to local educators to supplement classroom activities. CNUW is also investigating partnerships with other groups to broaden their education program. For example, this year Liberty Wildlife will bring birds of prey like owls and hawks to share with the children.

Another stop on the children's tour is SCC'S new Peace Garden. Standing tall amidst the ironwoods and cacti, a pole bears the words "may peace prevail on earth" in 12 different languages, including Pima and Maricopa. The Peace Garden embraces a shady wooden gazebo that looks out on three raised planters filled with goodies for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bats. Planted with native plants, including yucca, chuparosa and penstemon, the planters are a pollinator's delight. A lucky visitor might even glimpse an owl exiting his burrow. CNUW provides these Sonoran natives with homes constructed of flexible plastic tubing and upsidedown buckets.

Desert tortoises, frogs, and plants have homes in the walled area that includes the greenhouse and vivarium. R oy tossed some mulberry leaves into the tortoise pen and hosed it down. Before long three female tortoises lumbered from their burrows and came to feast under their very own lysiloma tree. The temperature-controlled greenhouse features plant tables on one side, and frog habitats on the other. To the right of the door is a natural tangle of yerba mansa, verbena, and horsetail surrounding a pond. B eyond this are bright blue tanks. One tank, with a chiller, houses tadpoles that will become endangered Ramsey Canyon leopard frogs.

While working on her Masters in Restoration Ecology at ASU, Stacy Pratt is focusing on three desert restoration sites for CNUW. Brown's Ranch and Two Snakes Wash are part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The 16.2- acre Brown's Ranch site includes the area where a house and corrals were part of a cattle ranch. The 9.5-acre Two Snakes site is an extension of that area. CNUW is replacing foliage lost when this area supported cattle. New plantings include velvet mesquite, blue palo verde, and foothill palo verde trees, as well as desert hackberry, canyon bursage, four-wing saltbush, desert honeysuckle, greythorn and some native grasses. Enhancing the wildlife habitat should attract greater numbers and types of native creatures.

Ancala, the third site, covers about 2 acres. P reviously used as a construction dumping ground, CNUW now will plant blue palo verde trees and transplant some nearby cacti. This project is being pursued in partnership with the City of Scottsdale and the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust with the active participation of community volunteers.

When it comes to strong backs and enthusiasm, CNUW recruits volunteers from everywhere-from retirees to SCC's student body. With some of the grant monies they acquired, the center established a couple of paying positions for students who wish to dedicate more time to preserving the desert. CNUW's local supporters include Bank One, CAP, the Scottsdale Charros, SRP, CLC, the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust, the City of Scottsdale, and Wells Fargo. Grant monies, donations, and volunteers have been essential in supporting this program. But with their rapid growth, Diana Schmidt of the center is placing new energy into an endowment campaign to ensure financial support well into the future.

Looking into the near future: Mark projects that another 1,500 children will go through CNUW's field day pro gram. That's another 1,500 chances to inform young minds. To help them actually see the puzzle of a prickly monster saguaro cradling a nest of baby cactus wrens. To help them love that riddle of nature. To help them want to preserve it for generations to come.

Roy Barnes, Chairman/Advisory Board

Stacy Pratt, Restoration Director

Mark Harding, Assistant Director

Diana S. Schmidt, Campaign Director

Scottsdale Community College
9000 East Chaparral Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85256-2626

Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated January 25, 2003
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
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