Kicking off 2024 on a high note

Beside the looming company of A Mountain, Logan Phillips gathered us in the cool morning air with poetry to welcome and inspire a shared love and appreciation for the Sonoran Desert. Childrens’ laughter mingled with the friendly chatter of neighbors coming together and filtered out over the riverbed, while DJ Halsero kept up a lively beat and the hardworking chefs at Ensenada Street Food and ViriViriBombBomb food trucks supplied much needed hydration and sustenance. The sense of community was real! 

Sonoran Institute’s first river clean-up of 2024, put together in partnership with Ironwood Tree Experience and Tucson Clean & Beautiful, made possible by the Ward 1 Participatory Budget De la Gente, was nothing less than a resounding success. Over 250 people joined in the fun (at least 340 were registered!), and together we removed close to 2,500 lbs. of trash from the Santa Cruz River near Verdugo Park. Ironwood Tree Experience spearheaded the creation of over 3,000 seed balls of wildflower seed and local mud, a fun opportunity to literally get your hands dirty and chat with your neighbors. The seeds for these beautification bombs were provided by Pima County Flood Control District from surrounding areas to establish and promote native diversity and recruitment along the Santa Cruz River. The bombs were laid out to dry until the cleanup was finished, a forest of clay gems awaiting their moment in the spotlight: a coordinated wave of enthusiastic throws into the river in celebration of the garbage removed and our hope for wildflowers to come! 

Waterway trash accumulation and its negative impacts have long been a hot topic of conversation in the Santa Cruz River community. Precious wildlife habitats can be degraded and endangered by trash piling up in The River. Wildlife can sometimes mistake trash pieces for food, interfering with their digestive systems,causing injury or worse. River flows can be backed up behind trash dams, redirecting the river and reducing the efficacy of flood control efforts. Sonoran Institute’s #NotInMyRiver campaign launched in 2020, and since then we have been conducting a trash survey and analysis effort with the hope of establishing a greater understanding of trash types and origins. The data gathered will help inform efforts for acquiring and installing traps to capture trash before it makes its way to the river channel.  

Looking for another event? Here’s an idea of things to come in 2024! Be sure to keep an eye on the Sonoran Institute website and social media accounts for updates.

  • Santa Cruz River Research Days: April 24-26A hybrid in-person and virtual event celebrating and exploring research and topics along the Santa Cruz River, with an iNaturalist bioblitz at the international border on the third day! This year’s theme is Stories of a Multinational River, and registration is now open. 
  • Our next river cleanup is April 20, 2024, in partnership with Tucson Audubon Society and Tucson Clean & Beautiful.  

Thank you to our event sponsors and partners: