For all of us who care about our fellow humans, clean air and water, and sharing space with other creatures, 2017 was a roller coaster ride, and 2018 is starting out with more of the same. I’ve spent the first part of January taking stock and thinking about what we can do in 2018 to make things a whole lot better. Together, we can accomplish a lot.
In 2018, we pledge to hold fast to our ambitious vision to sustain the Sky Islands as a place where nature thrives, where open space and clean water are available to all species, and where people are deeply connected to the region and each other. We’ll continue to dream big, stay focused, and persevere, because that’s what jaguars, frogs, and our community need. Here are our resolutions for the new year.
We resolve to redouble our work on the ground to help wildlife and ecosystems respond to climate change.
Rapid and intense climate change was the story of 2017 in the Sky Islands. Every month last year had average temperatures above normal—with three months of the year being the hottest on record. Climate change isn’t going away, and neither are we. This year we will work to bring ecosystems back to health, protect Sky Island wet oases, and replace non-native vegetation with plants that provide food and cover for wildlife. We will provide refuge and support species as they adapt to these changing conditions.
We resolve to stand for healthy communities by fostering healthy ecosystems with flowing water.
So many of the ecological gems in the Sky Islands pivot on water—and so many of these water sources are exploited and disturbed by human use. In 2018, Outstanding Arizona Waters like Cienega Creek and Davidson Canyon are threatened by interests that seek to remove their protections so they can be more easily exploited and polluted. We can take charge and decide how we want to live in the Sky Island Region, with true appreciation and respect for how the ecosystems around us enrich our lives and our well being. This year our Sky Islands waters continue to be a key focus, understanding where water is found on the landscape, protecting these waters, bringing them back to flowing health, and recognizing the importance of our springs and streams in regulation and policy.
We resolve to build connections for wildlife large and small, terrestrial and aquatic.
With rapid and intense climate change, keeping wildlife and ecosystems connected is as important as ever. We want to give all animals, big and small, and the myriad plants in the Sky Islands the best chance possible to respond to climate challenges. We will continue to fight the proposed border wall and keep the Path of the Jaguar open for jaguars and all the plants and animals that live alongside them. We will continue to stand strong for policies and regulations that protect—rather than destroy—entire ecosystems and wildlife corridors.
In his most recent book, Half-Earth, E.O Wilson describes the Madrean Sky Islands as “one of the last great places on earth” and “a corridor permitting north–south expansion of species between the U.S. Mexican Plateau and the Cordilleras of Central America.” These corridors are critical to lessening the impacts of climate change, and we will work to preserve them.
We resolve to raise the profile of the Sky Island Region.
As a nation, we must recognize that the Sky Islands are worthy of our attention and investment and that the vibrant culture and environments of the Sky Islands are assets that benefit us all. Stronger recognition of the extraordinary natural and cultural values of the Sky Islands is essential to motivate people to demand and support protection for the region and reject actions that will diminish it. We will work to bring the story of vibrant Sky Islands worthy of protection to new and broader audiences.
We resolve to stand with science and empower young scientists, especially women scientists, to become forces for positive change.
Young scientists who love where they live and work and develop a deeper understanding of how to support and protect it are the hope for a thriving future in the Sky Islands. I came to Sky Island Alliance as a volunteer student studying science nearly 15 years ago. Now as Executive Director, I’m committed to raising the voices of young women scientists in our community. They bring creativity, commitment, intellect, and a passion that when fostered can change our world for the better. We will empower them this year with skills development, career mentoring, and opportunities to work directly on studying and protecting our Sky Island wonders.
We resolve to be united, focused, and determined
To us, being united means reaching across boundaries to build connections and community. As the only organization working to keep the entire Sky Island Region connected and thriving, we must remain focused and determined this year. We may be a small organization, but we stand for big ideals: a Sky Island Region that is not limited by political boundaries, and where unity and community thrive during these times of so much divisiveness. We will live these ideals in the way we run our organization and engage with all our Sky Island communities.
Want to feel better in 2018? Connect with the diversity of people that makes the Sky Islands a great place to live.
Come volunteer with Sky Island Alliance! Research has found that the overwhelming majority of volunteers feel mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience. Lower your stress, improve your mood, and build community with Sky Island Alliance this year as volunteer. We’ll be working in Sky Islands in the U.S. and Mexico throughout the year.