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Our Work, By The Numbers

You don’t last as a nonprofit 501c(3) for over 25 years without making a significant positive impact. At the Sonoran Institute, we make sure to keep ourselves accountable for success. Here are the communities we’ve worked with over the last 25 years and counting. Here are some of the results:

Help Us Keep It Going!


Local Investment


Acres conserved and protected


Community leaders/activists trained


Native tree seedlings planted in the Colorado River Delta region.

Our Success Stories

We’re more than conservationists. We work to preserve the environments, economies and communities of the West, through unique programs and initiatives.

What can a river teach us?

The sun is just rising through their school bus windows, but these fourth graders aren’t going to school. Instead, they are doing something some of them have never done before; they’re taking a… MORE ›

Steven Giang, Planning Graduate
Sally Harris, Planning & MBA Graduate
Kendra Hyson, Landscape Architecture Graduate
Katie Laughlin, Landscape Architecture Graduate
Bernardo Terán, 4th year Architecture Undergraduate

Rendering by Bernardo Teran
Interstate 11 Inspires Next Generation of Designers

The idea of a transcontinental highway in the West, spanning from Mexico to Canada, has been kicking around for decades. The possibility of this “CANAMEX” route, bookended by two international trade ports, has… MORE ›

Cleanup crew volunteers.
Mexicali Fluye: Getting Good Things Flowing in Our Communities

There was no way to avoid it. A mountain of old tires, plastic containers, household garbage, and other assorted junk piled up to four times their height loomed just steps away from the… MORE ›

Resilient Communities Workshop Helps Missoula Become Summer Smart

As the West changes, we encounter challenges. Our Western Lands and Communities program is developing the tools communities desperately need to address those challenges collaboratively.

Pilot Channel on the lower Colorado River Delta at low tide the wet sand marks the high tide mark.
Colorado River Delta, Mexico. Heli Flight Sonoran Institute 2-3 July 2015.

©Bill Hatcher 2015
Restoring the Colorado River Estuary

Innovative. Collaborative. Turning the impossible to possible. That is what we are doing in the Colorado River Delta and our newest effort in the estuary—one of the most productive and endangered ecosystems on earth—combines these themes.

Phoenix’s West Valley
Protecting the Crown Jewel of Phoenix’s West Valley

Helping establish the White Tank Mountains Conservancy builds on our long tradition of incubating new community conservation organizations – now more than 2 dozen that have conserved more than 145K acres of public & private lands, and raised more than $206 million – dedicated to protecting local natural and cultural resources.

Looking east to the Old Woman Mtns from Cadiz Valley (Ryan Henson)
Bringing Blue Sky to the California Desert Protection Debate

We develop tools & information for communities to better understand what’s driving their local economies and for public land managers to assess the relative benefits of protecting or developing these lands. Our work underscores that protecting public lands is important economic development strategy. The California Desert is our most recent success.

Colorado River Delta, Mexico. Heli Flight Sonoran Institute 2-3 July 2015.

©Bill Hatcher 2015
From Sewage to Sanctuary: Las Arenitas Treatment Wetland

Green infrastructure—using nature’s ability to provide the same services associated with more conventional “grey” infrastructure—offers tremendous ecological and economic benefits. Nowhere is this more evident than on a 250-acre wetland we created to treat wastewater and serve as a refuge for birds and other wildlife in the Colorado River Delta.


Our Programs

Birds in  the Las Arenas watershed south of Mexicali near the city water treatment plant. For Sonoran Institute June 4-5, 2015, Baja California, Mexico.

©Bill Hatcher 2015
Colorado River Delta

Water is returning to the Delta. With it – life and hope. When we started this program nearly 20 years ago, our goals were audacious. We hoped to: Restore the Delta’s habitats through…

The Sun Corridor

Balancing the built environment with the needs of our natural world. The Sun Corridor refers to the region between Nogales, Arizona in the south, to Prescott, Arizona in the north…

credit Dan Burden 16
Western Lands and Communities

Shaping the future of the West by informing land use and natural resources policy. The Western Lands and Communities (WLC) Program is a collaboration…


Western Challenges Offer Unique Opportunities

From water scarcity to hasty development, we know the unique challenges that face the West – and we’re flexible and resilient enough to find the right balance between conserving and developing our natural resources.

Help us shape the future of the West.


Featured Items

Sonoran Institute 2015 Annual Report
Sonoran Institute – 2015 Annual Report (10/27/16)
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The Santa Cruz River
Sonoran Institute awarded 2017 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant
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Stephanie Sklar
An Update From Our CEO
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