Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival to go on as planned

Wildfires’ impact to be among topics explored in Sierra Vista

If you have been scared off by news coverage about wildfires in Arizona, you might be surprised to learn that plenty of places in the Huachuca Mountains and the Chiricahua Mountains weren’t even touched by the fires. Birds and wild animals still have plenty of areas for habitats. But how deep is the aftermath beyond the charred landscape in the mountains and canyons of Cochise County?

At this year’s 20th Annual Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, two wildfire recovery specialists will speak about the impact the fires will have in southeastern Arizona’s “sky islands.” The specialists will hold 2 seminars at the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival. 

They’ll answer questions like:

  • Are birds able to just fly away from the danger of wildfires?
  • Where do they go, and when might they return to a burned-over area? 
  • Which species have been primarily affected?
  • What about the bear, mountain lions, ocelots, deer, javelina, squirrels and other mammals?

Rod Mondt, a founding board member of the Sky Island Alliance, and Bianca Torres, Wildlife Biologist for the National Park Service, will provide the latest information on wildfire recovery. They’ll also speak about the complex and vital interrelationship between wildlife and wildfire. Mondt will present “Wildfire, Protected Areas and Landscape Change.” He will also give the opening address at the festival’s welcome reception. As part of the festival’s free seminar series, Torres will present “After the Wildfire – Restoration and Rehabilitation of the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains.”     

Wildfire seminar details:

Wildfire, Protected Areas and Landscape Change
Presented by Rod Mondt
7 p.m., Aug. 4
Cochise College Student Union Community Room

After the Wildfire – Restoration and Rehabilitation of the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains
Presented by Bianca Torres
1 p.m., Aug. 6
Cochise College Student Union Community Room

The 20th Annual Southwest Wings Nature Festival will offer 40 free classroom seminars, 5 free guided trips, reptile and raptor exhibits, evening presentations and a wildlife film premiere. To respect and protect recovering environment, professional naturalists and birding guides are evaluating and adjusting certain planned birding trips to ensure they do not damage any fragile burned areas. Many unscarred wildlife viewing areas remain in southeastern Arizona.

General info for the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival:

When: August 3-6
Where: Cochise College, Sierra Vista Campus Library Center, 901 Colombo Avenue, Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Costs: Free programs are first-come, first-served; $20-$150 for other events; registration is required
Info: Southwest Wings, or the Sierra Vista Visitor Center, 520-417-6960

Photo courtesy of the City of Sierra Vista

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