AZ Giving and Leading: Audubon Arizona

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We’ll take you on a hike along the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix. That’s where Audubon Arizona holds regular hikes, talks and events to promote awareness about the diverse wildlife in our state. Find out how 600-acres were transformed from an industrial dump into a home for more than 200 species of birds, jackrabbits, coyotes, beavers and other wildlife.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading, producer Christina Estes and our photographer introduce us to people involved in wildlife Audubon Arizona.

Amber Houston: We're going to head west over here.

Christina Estes: Amber Houston's office has a pretty nice view.

Amber Houston: I'm the weekend teacher at Audubon Arizona.

Christina Estes: Here's her version of ringing phones, emails and texts. There are no angry customers out here. Only curious ones.

Amber Houston: You see where the beaver have chewed. You can see their teeth marks. They have just taken off the portions of the branches they really want and they drag them away.

Boy Scout: Whether they bite do they leave germs on?

Amber Houston: Maybe. That's a good question.

Christina Estes: These Boy Scouts are learning about the habitat restoration area.

Amber Houston: This is the Salt River. This is what used to be very, very full.

Christina Estes: That was before the dams were built. When the river dried up people started dumping along the riverbed. They destroyed more than 90% of the native habitat.

Sarah Porter: This was the most degraded place in Phoenix 15 years ago.

Christina Estes: Audubon Arizona executive Sarah Porter witnessed the transformation. Phoenix removed nearly 1,200 tons of tires and added more than 75,000 trees, shrubs and plants.

Sarah Porter: The Sonoran desert is the most biodiverse in the world. It's an extraordinary place. We're lucky to live here. We have amazing diversity here.

Christina Estes: They have identified more 200 species of birds. The 600 acre restoration area is also home to Jack rabbits, coyotes and beavers. All less than two miles from downtown.

Amber Houston: What is so neat about coming out and seeing place likes this?

Boy Scout: You're not in the city any more. There's no loud noises. It's just nice. Open, quiet.

Amber Houston: Like being out in the middle of nowhere.

Boy Scout: I'm like, especially at night when you can look up and see the stars, you can't see that in the city.

Christina Estes: In southeastern Arizona Audubon manages an 8,000 acre ranch devoted to grasslands research.

Sarah Porter: We know that humans have had a huge impact on native lands in Arizona. When we have a place where we keep it aside we give land managers a chance to have a baseline for one thing so they can learn what a healthy native grassland would look like. It allows scientists to see whether there are ways we could control the impacts of invasive grass species like Buffel grass.

Christina Estes: Audubon also conducts annual bird surveys and offers educational and volunteer programs.

Tour Guide: An acoma is a red tail hawk.

Sarah Porter: We think when people get a chance to be personally involved in protecting the environment then they are going to be really informed when environmental questions come in the future. Besides it makes people feel really good.

Boy Scout: In the city I know it's beautiful, but sometimes we need to go get some nature.

Ted Simons: Audubon Arizona is holding its annual migration celebration in Phoenix this weekend. The free, family-friendly event will feature live animals, arts and crafts. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

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