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Cienega Outlook
Living in the Watershed Series-October 2015
In This Newsletter
Science on the Sonoita Plain
Who is the CWP?
Where is the Cienega Watershed?
YES! Youth Engaged Stewardship
Science on the Sonoita Plain---A 2015 Success  
Protect Shallow Groundwater   

Once again we had a "sell-out"  SOSP), held, as has become our tradition, at the Audubon Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in Elgin.   This year's theme centered on water management, with Julia Fonseca (Pima County) organizing and moderating the morning session.  Topics and speakers included: 1) groundwater controls on surface water (Jeanmarie Haney, TNC), harnessing runoff (Laura Norman, USGS), private water wells (Gary Hix, In2Wells, LLC), and legal and policy considerations (Linda Stitzer, Western Resource Advocates).  A panel discussion and Q and A followed the presentation.

Julia Fonseca introducing the water management talks.
SOSP 2015
   SOSP p anelists addressing audience questions on water issues.

The afternoon offered an eclectic mix presentations on current research and project updates.  This year's line up included:
  • Shrub encroachment and brush management, Steve Archer
  • 2015 soil moisture active passive validation experiment, Phil Heilman
  • Recovery efforts of native aquatic species, Doug Duncan, Dennis Caldwell and Jeff Simms
  • Effects of wildfire on riparian trees, Carl E. Bock and Jane H. Bock
  • Tracking wetland conditions in the Lower Santa Cruz, Claire Zugmeyer
  • Flora of the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, Julia Fonseca
  • The evolution of hummingbird visual signals, Richard Simpson
  • Las Cienegas National Conservation Area program update, Amy Markstein and Karen Simms
  • The shared history of the Cienega watershed, Annamarie Schaecher
Good discussion followed the presentations, including a nice summary of major epiphanies and "aha" moments during the day.  These insights, plus our electronic evaluation, yielded lots of good suggestions for adapting our format and agenda, as well as great topics for next year.  Thanks to everyone for the excellent feedback

SOSP 2015
What's happening with aquatic species? 

Which trees stand up to fire? 
What do hummingbirds see and sign?
Watch the videos on YouTube from these sessions to learn the results of very interesting studies on fire survival, what students don't know about watersheds, and other topics.  Go to:  SOSP 2015 Videos

Civano Middle School Student

Want to Learn More Watershed Science? 
Planning for Science on the Sonoita Plain 2016 is underway.

  • Mark your calendar for June 4, 2016 and plan to attend. 
  • Want to provide a paper or poster for Science on the Sonoita Plain 2016?  contact:
  • One SOSP 2016 session will focus on managing invasive species. If you're interested in helping organize the session, please contact us (
  • During 2016, CWP hopes to offer training on arroyo restoration techniques. Keep your eye out for future announcements about upcoming of workshops. Contact for more information.

About Us

Cienega means 'wetlands'. In a desert landscape where most riparian areas are threatened, we work to preserve the Cienega Creek watershed into perpetuity.


Our mission is to keep this cool desert respite - a home for significant natural and cultural resources - as a legacy for our children and their children. CWP works with all stakeholders who can impact the sustainability of the ecosytems.



Visit our website at for the latest updates on the Youth Engaged Stewardship summer projects, videos form the Science on the Sonoita Plains,  and Forest Service response to CWP objections to the proposed mine in the Santa Ritas.

What is the Cienega Watershed?  


The Cienega Watershed, part of the larger Santa Cruz watershed, has its headwaters in Elgin and, flowing north, contributes significantly to the aquifer of Tucson and Pima County.  The watershed contains unique vegetative communities, including five of the rarest habitat types in the American Southwest: cienegas (marshlands), cottonwood-willow riparian forests, sacaton grasslands, mesquite bosques, and semi-desert grasslands. 


Ciénega Creek is one of the few remaining streams in southern Arizona that continues to support native vertebrate species originally inhabiting the ciénegas of southern Arizona. 

The Cienega Watershed Partnership facilitates cooperative actions that steward resources of the Cienega Watershed while enabling sustainable human use.






We have a special book for sale for a young person that you might know.
Cheery portrays the adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog.

Contact outreach@cienega.or

What's happening with YES!? 

Youth Engaged Stewardship (YES!) finished a great 2015 summer program.
The teens learned about the Las Cienegas NCA and the watershed, set up a study grid to test various restoration techniques, and organized  a volunteer work day to complete restoration in two study plots at the Gardner Sacaton Site.   Yes for YES!

Thanks to Ian Tomlinson, Gita Bodner, Jason Field, Dennis Caldwell, Chris Schrager, Karen Simms, Natalie Wilson, Julian Heilman, Mead Mier, Jeff Simms, and the July 11 volunteers.

Thanks YES! Partners: Ironwood Tree Experience and Empire High School 

  YES! 2015 July 11
YES! 2015

YES! 2016
Look for recruiting announcements in Spring 2016.  Contact: for more information.

Newsletter by: Shela McFarlin, Larry Fisher, and Tahnee Robertson. Photos: Shela and Tahnee

June 2015 Tahnee
Cienega Watershed Partnership

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