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  • Living River Project celebrated with poetry, art

    Apr 12, 2016 | Read More News
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    More than 250 teachers, students, and family members will gather from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 16, at Wheeler Taft Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive, to celebrate a program that brought children ages 5-19 to the Santa Cruz River and Agua Caliente Park to learn about watersheds and wetlands habitats, then transfer that knowledge into artwork and poetry.

    LROW projectDubbed the Living River Project, it 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

    Students’ poetry and artwork will be on exhibit as part of the day, which also includes a scavenger hunt, games and an awards ceremony. The work will remain on exhibit through May 30.

    Not many people know that the Santa Cruz River in northwest Tucson and Marana 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.

    That’s where the Living River Project comes in. The project tracks and reports on water quality and environmental improvements that result from these upgrades. It’s a team effort of several Pima County departments: Flood Control, Wastewater, Sustainability and Conservation and 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: the Sonoran Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency and Arizona Project Wet

    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. 

    One of them was Madilyn Hanna. The 11-year-old attends DeGrazia Elementary School and penned “The Whispering Wind”:

    I hear the wind whispering,
    to the willow trees,
    telling them the stories,
    of everything she’s seen.
    I hear the wind whispering,
    to the river reeds,
    bragging about every city she’s seen.
    If you look closely at the water’s edge,
    the midges are squirming and butting heads.
    Why can’t we just open our eyes a little longer?


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