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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 protect the environments, economies and communities of the West, through unique programs and initiatives.

Laguna Grande, a Comeback Story

“We will be able to take what we have learned in Laguna Grande and apply it on a larger scale, throughout the entire river corridor and beyond.” —Karen Schlatter, associate director of the… MORE ›

The 21st Century’s Gold Rush—Done Right: A Collaborative Approach to Advancing Renewable Energy in the West

It was the environmental community’s dream—and its nightmare. Large-scale clean energy production in the West was finally feasible, but the sudden interest in developing it threatened millions of acres of unspoiled vistas, wildlife corridors, and habitat on public lands across the region.

Conserve2Enhance: Harnessing the Power of Neighbors to Fix Flooding Problems

“For me, one of the coolest parts about the project is that we’re creating something beautiful.” —Allie Silber, teacher at Tucson’s Sky Islands High School Water is the Southwest’s most precious resource, but… MORE ›

Santa Cruz River: Paradise Lost, Paradise Reborn, Will it be Lost Again?

The federally endangered Gila topminnow had not been seen in its native habitat, the Santa Cruz River, for more than a decade. Then, in December 2015 they came back.

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 ›

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 ›

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.

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.

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.

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

Colorado River Delta Program

A Resource Worth Saving The Colorado River once formed a lush delta teeming with birds and aquatic species as it flowed into the Gulf of California. Historically, it covered more than 3,000 square… MORE ›

Resilient Communities and Watersheds

Within the Colorado River basin, the combination of over allocated water systems, rapid population growth, and increasing uncertainty in the face of climate change requires…


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.

You have the dedication, hope and resilience our region needs.

Your commitment to protecting natural resources makes incredible things happen.


Featured Items

Annual Report 2019 (English)
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Caring for the Santa Cruz River: Making Improvements for Nature and Community
Read more – Resources to Embrace Change
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