On Saturday, July 24th, over 100 volunteers planted about 1,300 baby agaves in the grasslands of Coronado National Memorial in an effort to help augment habitat for the endangered lesser-long nosed bat.
Bats and agave have a great relationship – agaves need bats to pollinate their flowers and bats need agave for food. During the construction of the border fence, many agaves were removed, decreasing the availability of nectar for the bats.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Plant Materials Center grew the agaves for the planting through a cooperative agreement. Over the next three years, about 4,500 agaves will be replanted to replace about 4,000 agaves that were removed two years ago with the construction of the border fence. This is an important time for the planting of agave due to the seasonal monsoon rains providing moisture to the new plants.
The day started with an early morning bird walk led by park staff, registration and information, a talk from a bat biologist with Arizona Game and Fish on bats and the importance of the agave-bat relationship, a how-to on planting agaves, and an afternoon plant identification walk.
Along with park staff, volunteers included Bureau of Land Management SCA interns, Cochise County master gardeners, local Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista volunteers and Girl and Boy Scout troops, Saguaro National Park staff and SCA interns.