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Help Set Conservation Priorities for U.S. Sky Islands

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Help study and set conservation priorities for the Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona.

Your donation helps send scientists to study an untouched "sister mountain" in Mexico, the Sierra de los Ajos.

The Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains are two of the most important Sky Islands in Arizona. The mountains and the wildlife linkages they support are home to black bears, hundreds of migratory birds, the black tailed prairie dog, mountain lions, and even the elusive jaguar. These two ranges are an important hotbed of biodiversity. Unfortunately, in recent years, these ranges have been plagued by wildfires that have burned significant portions of the incredibly important habitat. The fire management strategy has been, historically, to suppress natural fires. This leads to leaf litter, dry branches and other natural material building up on the forest floor, so that when a fire does ignite, it makes for a seriously hot, intense fire. These fires can be aggressive and leave swaths of completely scorched landscapes, prime for erosion when the rains come.

The Sierra de los Ajos, just south of the U.S./Mexico border about 55 miles from the Chiricahuas, tell a different story. The Sierra de los Ajos have not had any governmental resources directed toward fire management, and natural fires have not been suppressed. In fact, recently a large wildfire burned a portion of the range‐but instead of barren, sterile ground, organic material slows the flow of rainwater and new plant starts are encouraged to take root. Native animals have adapted to the natural cycles of fires and many adjust their behavior accordingly. Many native plants rely on fire to reproduce.

You can help send a team of experts from Sky Island Alliance to the Sierra los Ajos to perform an important study of the biodiversity of this little-studied area. Working with local land managers, experts, and Mexican university students, Sky Island Alliance will study plant and animal diversity in this large, remote range that has not been managed to suppress wildfires. The information collected will be shared – with the Mexican park service, researchers, and with conservationists in the U.S. and Mexcio. This new body of knowledge can be compared to the known biodiversity of the "sister" mountain ranges, north of the border, which have been subject to years of fire suppression, followed by intense burns.

With your support, this project will inform future public lands management to protect these rich, wild places. The information Sky Island Alliance collects, with your help, will support Sky Island Alliance's advocacy for wildlife – from black bears, to songbirds, the black tailed prairie dog, mountain lions, and even the elusive jaguar.

You can help. Your donation will help fund research to protect and preserve two of the most important Sky Islands in the U.S.


Sky Island Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the rich natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

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