Upper San Pedro River Science-Policy Dialogues 

The San Pedro, spanning the Arizona-Sonora border, is one of the last perennial streams in Arizona, and an important migration corridor for birds and other wildlife. But significant changes to the river are evident. For the first time in recorded history, a stretch of the San Pedro became dry and remained that way for eight days in 2005. Udall Center researchers have been working in the transboundary Upper San Pedro River basin for over 15 years, supported in part through initiatives like the UNESCO HELP (Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy) initiative and the Dialogue on Water and Climate. They have addressed topics such as community participation in water governance, binational stakeholder cooperation, social learning and adaptive management, and the interface between science and policy.

See 2006 bibliography of published Udall Center research on the Upper San Pedro. more >



ECOSTART was an environmental education and exchange program to empower Sonoran elementary school teachers to develop an environmental education curriculum to broaden their communities' and schools' knowledge of ecosystem principles. The program enabled Sonoran and Arizona elementary school teachers in Sonora to share environmental information and student projects regarding the Upper San Pedro river and its riparian area. ECOSTART built on the Sister Cities program in which Cananea and Sierra Vista have participated for decades. The focus of student projects in the Upper San Pedro riparian watershed ecosystem was especially relevant since the two cities, as well as Naco, Sonora, had expressed a common concern about an adequate and safe supply of water from the Upper San Pedro watershed in Arizona and Sonora.

Ecostart participants ECOSTART included:

  • GLOBE environmental science training
  • On-site environmental curriculum development workshop
  • Sonora-Arizona teacher planning meetings
  • Consulting and curriculum materials from the Environmental Education Exchange
  • Hands Across the Border/Manos a través de la Frontera border crossing facilitation
  • Binational student environmental project exchange
  • Environmental field trips to the Upper San Pedro River

  • ECOSTART 1 (2001-2003) built partnerships among educational institutions, NGOs, and government agencies in the borderlands to help teachers and students understand and address community concerns such as water supply and quality.

    Through partnership with the GLOBE Program, ECOSTART 1 offered students the opportunity to work with researchers to answer questions about human impacts upon the ecosystem and to investigate potential solutions to environmental problems.

    ECOSTART 1 worked to strengthen the Sister Cities program between Cananea, Sonora, and Sierra Vista, Arizona. A stronger Sister Cities program can facilitate the resolution of shared concerns about water use in the Upper San Pedro Riparian area, as well as other community issues.

    Ecostart 1 Participating Institutions

    In Arizona:

    Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy,
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
    Sierra Vista Middle School, Sierra Vista
    GLOBE K-12 Environmental Education Program
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
    Water Wise, Cochise County Cooperative Extension,
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
    Hands Across the Border, Tucson
    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson
    Proyecto Corredor Colibrí, Bisbee
    Huachuca Audubon Society, Sierra Vista
    Environmental Education Exchange, Tucson

    In Sonora, Mexico:

    Instituto Americano de Cananea, Cananea
    Escuela Primaria General Ignacio Zaragoza, Naco
    Manos a Través de la Frontera, Hermosillo
    Red Fronteriza de Salud y Ambiente, A.C. Información Ciudana Transfronteriza (INCITRA), Hermosillo

    ECOSTART 2 (2003-2005) was a continuation of the first ECOSTART, but with a sole focus on the Arizona portion of the San Pedro Basin. ECOSTART 2 was a watershed-based environmental education program that built the capacity of Sierra Vista schools to educate basin students about water conservation, basic ecological concepts, and bird and fish habitats tied to the San Pedro riparian corridor in southeastern Arizona.

    ECOSTART 2 linked University of Arizona educators, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Tucson Audubon Society, and Arizona Project WET with Sierra Vista elementary school teachers and their students, the Sierra Vista Water Wise school program, and the Friends of the San Pedro in a series of teacher workshops and student/teacher field trips designed to address community and school needs for knowledge and understanding of the relationships between a geographic sense of place, ecosystem functioning, and natural resources. 

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