Use of the best available science – a fundamental tenet for the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance. So how to put that goal into practice?
For decades now, many Altar Valley agricultural operations have conducted annual rangeland monitoring in cooperation with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Alliance has complimented ground-up data gathering with a larger watershed perspective, particularly through the Watershed Resource Assessment project completed in 2000.
From the beginning, the Alliance has sought integration of ground-up wisdom and observation with outside expertise through field trips, task force work, and community meetings. The Alliance has provided comments on agency management plans (such as the Coronado National Forest management plan), Endangered Species Act compliance proceedings, and important regional initiatives such as Pima County’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan.
The watershed offers tremendous untapped potential as a learning and research laboratory, particularly given its proximity to many other outstanding institutions – such as University of Arizona, Pima Community College, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Southwest Watershed Research Center, and the Santa Rita Experimental Range in neighboring Santa Cruz Valley.
The Altar Valley Conservation Alliance envisions a more proactive science program, guided by a Scientific Advisory Board chaired by Dr. Thomas Sheridan of the University of Arizona. The group was formed in 2010, and now convenes annually for a science summit and advises informally on an as-needed basis. In 2013, the group helped create the AVCA Research Agenda and the Research Protocol for the Altar Valley Watershed. The AVCA Research Agenda is designed to share topics that have on the ground application for those living and working in the Altar Valley. The protocol is intended to facilitate cooperative attitudes and mutual respect among the science community and landowners in the Altar Valley.
The Scientific Advisory Board also administers the Altar Valley Research Fellowship, which is designed to attract and support scientific research in the Altar Valley. To learn more about fellowship winners' projects, click here. The 2014 Fellowship was awarded to Morgan Pfander, to gather a bibliography of research done on the Altar Valley and create the Altar Valley Collection in the Global Rangelands database.