Gary Paul Nabhan, recently interviewed by a clod of dirt

Dirt: So you occasionally write about us?

Gary: Well yes, on occasion. Why?

Dirt: What do you think entitles you to pry into our lives?

Gary: I’m not prying, exactly…I’m sort of crumbling you between my hands.

Dirt: While you are writing, you crumble us between your hands. Gads!

Gary: Only metaphorically so… teasing you apart, then rolling you back into a ball, so to speak.

Dirt: I just hate to be teased.  What gives you the license to write about us?

Gary: Well, I sort of ...

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Border Wall Construction: Imperiling Sacred Sites, Churches and Religious Freedom

Most of us have heard the devastating reports of how the new construction of a thirty-foot wall and floodlights along our southern border has begun to impact water flows, wildlife and archaeological resources long-protected by federal laws. The federal protection of endangered species, critical habitat and cultural antiquities has been waived along a three-hundred foot swath along the U.S./Mexico border. Eminent domain under the auspices of homeland security has allowed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Army Corps of Engineers ...

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Trans Situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives

In the face of unprecedented climatic disasters, social conflict, and political uncertainty, integrating in situ and ex situ strategies may become increasingly necessary to effectively conserve crop wild relatives (CWR). We introduce the concept of trans situ conservation to safeguard CWR genetic diversity and accessibility for crop improvement. Building on initiatives to combine in situ protection with ex situ backup in genebanks, trans situ conservation dynamically integrates multiple in situ and ex situ measures, from conservation to research to education, ...

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Trump’s Border Wall: Epitaph for an Endangered, Night-blooming Cactus?

Construction is underway on a 30-foot-high steel wall along Arizona’s southern border in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. As several reports have recently warned, the wall will hurt many endangered desert species, from Sonoran pronghorns to cactus ferruginous pygmy owls. To understand how the wall will further fragment habitats for these already-declining plants and animals, let’s go deep with one rare species that’s at grave risk: a cactus called the night-blooming cereus.

Sacamatraca, a beautiful and rare ...

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Ancient watering hole in Southern Arizona at risk from border wall construction

An ancient spring near Lukeville has slaked the thirst of desert travelers for centuries, but its days may be numbered as groundwater is pumped to build a 30-foot border wall.

Water has bubbled out of the granite at Quitobaquito Springs for thousands of years, making it a key watering hole for the Tohono O’odham, Spanish missionaries, U.S. and Mexican boundary surveyors, and countless other humans and animals.

The Trump administration decided to build a wall along 44 miles of the border in ...

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Agrivoltaics proves mutually beneficial across food, water, energy nexus

Building resilience in renewable energy and food production is a fundamental challenge in today’s changing world, especially in regions susceptible to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-locating of agriculture and solar photovoltaic panels, offers a possible solution, with new University of Arizona-led research reporting positive impacts on food production, water savings and the efficiency of electricity production.

Agrivoltaics, also known as solar sharing, is an idea that has been gaining traction in recent years; however, few studies have monitored all aspects ...

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The Healthiest Thing You Can Do Today? Get Dirty!

Americans now spend a stunning 90 percent of their time indoors. Our sedentary, screen-addicted lifestyles have been blamed for a range of ills — including obesity, attention problems, allergies and more.

We know that getting out of the house and into nature confers many benefits for physical and mental health. But there’s an additional benefit you might not know about: contact with the soil — good old dirt — enriches the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms ...

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Tensions at the US southern border are putting scientists and their work at risk

Scientists working on the US-Mexico border face unique challenges when trying to study borderlands ecosystems, from outright harassment by Border Patrol officers to tight restrictions on travel and what natural materials can cross the border. It’s all gotten worse under the Trump administration.

“In the course of talking to scientists, I found that nearly everyone I spoke to had some story about how the wall and the crackdown on immigration is affecting their ability to do their work,” says Living ...

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The Canary Islands Connection

I’m surrounded by date palms. Around them run dry watercourses that look like ones I find not far from my home in Tucson, Arizona. The traditional architecture in town would not be out of place in Tucson, either—or almost anywhere from southern Spain to Mexico and up into the southwest us. The fruit trees and grapevines hark back even further, to traditions of my ancestors from Syria and Lebanon. Perhaps this is what a visit to the ...

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Bearing Witness: Voices Of Climate Change Part VI: Climate Refugees

This week, we’re airing a series of interviews called Bearing Witness: Voices of Climate Change. They’re stories told by longtime Arizonans about changes they’ve seen in the familiar landscapes of their lives. While personal experience, in and of itself, is not scientific conclusion, many researchers believe long-term observation is a critical component to understanding how climate change affects humanity and the planet. Today’s interview is with teacher, author and ecologist, Gary Nabhan.

He is the founding director of Northern Arizona University’s Center for ...

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Tariffs, AZ Dept. of Ag leave farmers barren

When President Trump initiated his trade tariff wars with China a year ago, economists warned that it could precipitate the second-worst farm crisis in a half century.

Most farmers in Arizona did not get hit as hard as those in Corn Belt states. The tariff wars alone didn’t seem to precipitate a crisis in Arizona. But last month, other danger signs began to register in the Grand Canyon State. The long-standing relationship Arizona has had with its strongest trade partner, Mexico, ...

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in the darkest of times where I go

in the darkest of times where I go
is to a place somehow hidden
in the midst of pain
a place where microbursts of light

breaks through to reach us

a crack of light like the very one
you may have seen on stormy days
right at dusk when darkness
tried enveloping entire skies

but failed

fails because the sun sent out a call
a grace note so bright
it cut across the horizon
right into our hearts

and sangs to us

“do not give in
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Mesquite Manifesto (second edition)

The recent acrimonious debates about further fortifying barriers all across the 2000 mile US/Mexico boundary line beg larger questions: Just what might make communities more stable, secure and prosperous, while providing more livelihoods as well as wildlife habitat on both sides of the border? What particular natural resources and cultural assets in the region can be utilized to offer better long-term solutions to problems perceived to be border-related?

Within the United States, southern border counties have twice the level of poverty ...

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Earth Day as a Sacred Rite

What if getting our relationship right with the Earth and all its creatures is not just some scenic backdrop to a circus sideshow or diorama in a natural history museum? What if it is as crucial to our lives as getting our relations right with our Creator, our family and our neighbors before we die?

What if all of Creation is the most palpable expression of our Creator’s generosity, sense of wonder, and commitment to diversity? What happens when we begin ...

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Guest opinion: Heritage area can unite us

Arizonans were caught off guard when they heard that the Santa Cruz National Heritage Area had recently been designated by Congress and signed into law at the White House on March 12, 2019.

Suddenly, we found ourselves living in a 3,300-square-mile landscape that was nationally recognized for its distinctive natural and multi-cultural heritage.

Hadn’t a decade passed since all the communities in the upper Santa Cruz watershed pledged their support for such a designation?

By the time Tucson became the first “City of ...

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How the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Can Bring Us Together to Envision a Common Future

Were you among the many citizens of southern Arizona who were caught off guard upon hearing that a designation for the Santa Cruz National Heritage Area sailed through Congress in late February and was signed into law at the White House on March 12, 2019?

Were you surprised to find yourself living in a 3300 square mile landscape that was nationally-recognized for its distinctive natural, historical and multi-cultural heritage?

Hadn’t it been over a decade since most non-profits as well as all ...

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The spice trade: Selling the scents of luxury

The trade in spices goes back to ancient times: from the Frankincense trails that originated in the Dhofar Highlands in present day Yemen to the Queen of Sheba who travelled to Jerusalem with camels laden with spices. For centuries, spices have captured our imagination far more than any other commodities, and spice traders, from the Arab merchants to the European trading companies of the Age of Discovery, capitalized on the mystique of these luxurious aromatics to create a value chain ...

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Long-desired heritage area designation signed into law

A sweeping public lands bill signed into law by President Trump this week includes the designation of a Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in Santa Cruz and Pima counties, bringing to fruition an effort begun well more than a decade ago to boost cultural preservation, economic development and tourism in the area.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson), who represents all of Santa Cruz and parts of Pima county, had sought legislative approval for the NHA designation since 2007. In a ...

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Talk Nerdy. Episode 246. Gary Paul Nabhan.

In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, founder of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona. They talk about sustainability, conservation, indigenous agriculture, and his newest of several books, “Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair.”

Mesquite is a book that will delight mystics and foresters, naturalists and foodies. It combines cutting-edge science with a generous sprinkling of humor and folk wisdom, even including traditional recipes for cooking with ...

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How an appetite for local food fueled Tucson’s economic recovery

Could it be that Tucson is eating its way out of poverty and food insecurity?

Or to ask such a big hairy question in another manner: “How have Tucson’s citizens and businesses fared since the Great Recession devastated our community a decade ago?”

By the beginning of 2009, the Old Pueblo had been hit harder than most other US metro areas by bank and mortgage company scandals. But what, if anything, has helped our community’s economic recovery and changed its course for ...

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