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  • County’s Living River Project brings habitat to life

    Feb 24, 2016 | Read More News
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    Not many people know there’s a river in northwest Tucson and Marana that flows year-round and provides a vital wetland habitat. What’s more, the water in this stretch of the Santa Cruz River comes from two regional water reclamation facilities that recently performed a major upgrade on the quality of effluent it releases.

    Enter the Living River Project.

    The Living River Project delves into the history of the Santa Cruz River, which has long been the lifeblood of the region, attracting the first humans over 12,000 years ago. In fact, the Santa Cruz River Valley has the longest continuous record of agriculture in the United States, said Wendy Burroughs, Environmental Education Program Manager Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. 

    “Early inhabitants settled along the valley because the river supplied water year-round,” said Burroughs. “Today, due to a variety of factors including groundwater pumping, many stretches flow only when it rains. Nevertheless, people are giving life back to the river.”

    The county partners with a number of other organizations on the Living River Project, including Living River partners: Pima County, Sonoran Institute, Environmental Protection Agency, Arizona Project Wet. In addition, several other projects flow from the Living River. 

    Living River of Words

    Living River of Words introduces children ages 5 to 19 to watersheds and wetland habitats through science investigations and the practice of poetry and visual arts. As part of the program, children are encouraged to enter the Living River of Words Youth Art and Poetry Contest. 

    For Tucson-area students, a morning spent in the shade of mature willow trees on the banks of a flowing river is a very rare and special experience, says Burroughs. In the 2015-2016 school year, 900 students and teachers from 10 schools participated in the field study trips as part of Living River of Words. 

    While at the river, the students conducted water quality tests, observed wildlife and plant interactions, and took time for reflection and journaling. Back in the classroom and along the river, students work with local artists to take what they have learned and create poetry or art entries for the Living River of Words Youth Poetry and Art Contest.

    Living River Academy

    Living River ProjectThis instructor-focused project will allow up to 30 teachers to participate in a Living River Academy sponsored by Arizona Project Wet and Pima County. It  introduces to a range of educational opportunities utilizing the Living River “classroom” and includes field trip to the Santa Cruz River and Sweetwater Wetlands.

    The Living River Project partners invite the public to experience life along the banks of the Santa Cruz River with a series of educational events and outings that culminate in the Living River Celebration. 

    Living River Public Projects

    Birding along the Santa Cruz River
    What: Join birding expert Jeff Babson to see the riparian birds that are attracted to the mature willows and continuous river flow along the Santa Cruz River in Marana. All ages welcome.
    Date: Friday, March 4
    Time: 8:30 – 10 a.m.
    Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
    Cost: Free with NRPR Outdoor Activities Membership Pass, Non-Member $5 fee. Online registration required. 
    For more information contact: www.pima.gov/nrpr, eeducation@pima.gov, or 520-615-7855

    Santa Cruz River Research Days 
    Santa Cruz River Research Days is a venue for learning about research and conservation efforts that pertain to the natural and cultural resources along the Santa Cruz River. This annual event aims to trigger new research questions, promote networking, catalyze new collaborative projects, and foster awareness of each other’s research and conservation efforts. 
    Dates: Thursday, March 31, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday, April 1, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Where: Pima Community College, Desert Vista Campus, 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz
    Cost: Free. Reservations requested. 
    For more information visit: http://tiny.cc/scrrd

    Living River Project – Tracking conditions along the flowing Santa Cruz River
    What: Did you know we have two stretches of the Santa Cruz River that flow year round? Learn about recent improvements to river conditions and get your own copy of the latest Living River report. Presented by Claire Zugmeyer, Sonoran Institute and Evan Canfield, Pima County.
    Date: Wednesday, April 6 and Saturday, April 9
    Time: 2 – 3 p.m.
    Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
    Cost: Free and open to the public, no registration required. 

    Water Use along the Lower Santa Cruz River—A History
    What: The Lower Santa Cruz, downstream of Tucson, did not historically have year-round flows, yet people have used its waters for thousands of years. Today’s effluent and stormwater flows are still vital to the life of the river and surrounding community. Find out more by attending this presentation by Julia Fonseca, Environmental Planning Manager, Office of Sustainability and Conservation.
    Date: Tuesday, April 12
    Time: 2 – 3 p.m.
    Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
    Cost: Free and open to the public, no registration required. 

    Living River Celebration
    What: View the award-winning Living River of Words: Youth Poetry and Art exhibition. Take a close-up look at life in the river water under the microscope, enjoy family fun activities, make and take crafts, explore the ground water model, see the Living River exhibits, and take a nature walk along the river bank. 
    Date: Saturday, April 16
    Time: 9 a.m. - noon
    Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
    Cost: Free and open to the public, no registration required. 

    Living River of Words Youth Poetry and Art 
    What: Local children share their view of the natural world in this exhibition of award winning poetry and mixed media art. All ages welcome.
    Date: April 16 – May 30
    Time: Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. – 8p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. 
    Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
    Cost: Free and open to the public, no registration required.



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