Helping the Habitat

Francine Wetzel, Tucson Audubon Intern

Restoration area at Atturbury
Wash (Francine Wetzel)
I have recently been working every Friday to help with habitat restoration at the Atturbury Wash, one of the Tucson Audubon Society’s sites for their habitat restoration program. A large portion of the work has been unburying vegetation after the recent storms, planting more vegetation, and clearing away woodchips from the base of many plants that have been subjected to rot.

After the flooding that occurred approximately three weeks ago, many plants were either slightly or completely buried by sediment that filled their basins. Along with staff members Matt Clark and Andy Bennet, I worked to uncover the vegetation and reconstruct many of the berms that the floodwaters wiped out. Although the berms were built to retain the water that flowed throughout the floodplain, they were not quite tough enough for the heavy downpour that occurred.

Wood chips moved away
from the base of a plant
(Francine Wetzel)
Another issue we are facing is that a small percentage of the vegetation has died off due to rot. The woodchips that were strategically placed in basins to capture and retain moisture have become an issue for certain species. The storms brought an abundance of moisture to the plain, and although it was amazing for our vegetation, it was also a treat for fungi. The fungi generated from the woodchips were slowly causing rot in the bark of many plants. It then became an important task to pull away the woodchips from the bark but still allow it to remain in the basins to retain moisture.

Sediment and wood chips
cleared from base of plant
(Francine Wetzel)
Planting more vegetation has also been an important task at the site. I recently helped construct a large basin that held roughly a dozen grasses. We also had a volunteer day that finished planting over 50 more grasses. We are hoping that by the time the program has been completed at this site, the vegetation has solidified their presence enough to continue growing long after we leave.

For more about habitat restoration and environmental stewardship at the Atturbury Wash site, go to

Large area planted with native grasses (Francine Wetzel)