Conservation in Action: An Interview with Noah Horton

A joint project between the Rainforest Site, GreaterGood, and the Sky Island Alliance is working to preserve 32,000 acres (50 square miles) of habitat in the Sierra de Huérfana Sky Island. GreaterGood Director of Foundation Relations Noah Horton is deeply involved in the project, and took a bit of time out of his day to talk about his experience in the Sky Islands.

Can you please introduce yourself and explain your role at GGO?

Noah and his adventuring companion Willow

Hi! My name is Noah Horton and I am Director of Foundation Relations for I work to develop strategic partnerships, develop programs, and market our programs. I have a special place in my heart for anything conservation related. This program with Sky Island Alliance is extra dear to me, as they are based in my hometown of Tucson, AZ and work to conserve the Sonoran Desert I love.

How did the relationship with the Sky Island Alliance, CONANP and GGO begin? How are you personally involved?

I was aware of the work Sky Island Alliance was doing and my girlfriend had worked as a volunteer on some of their restoration efforts in Sonora and Arizona. I talked with them about their needs and learned about the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessement (MABA) program. I wanted and The Rainforest Site to help ensure this one of a kind program could continue and we established a partnership and launched some Gifts That Give More™.

The relationship with CONANP and Sky Island Alliance goes back several years, and is one of the most impressive aspects of the program. Sky Island Alliance works on both sides of the Mexican border, and the close working relationship they have developed with governmental organizations in the US and Mexico to enact conservation is astounding. It is really uplifting to see such positive cooperation across the Mexican border, which recently has only been in the news and in politics as an area of conflict and strife.

What has happened that makes the CONANP proposal so time sensitive?

Ringtailed cat (Bassariscus astutus)
Ringtailed cat (Bassariscus astutus)

CONANP identified the Sierra Huérfana as a particularly biodiverse area in need of protection over 5 years ago. To give you an idea of how special this area is, it will be only the third major CONANP reserve in all of Sonora. The issue has been that the land is shared community property between the villages of Pueblo de Álamos and Rancho Viejo and any proposal to conserve the land needed the sign off of both groups. In the last two years, negotiations took a positive turn and just recently, the two communities have come to an agreement. However, the proposal still needs a biological inventory of the plants and animals that live in the Sierra Huérfana in order to be submitted, which is where the MABA program comes in. We need to strike while the iron is hot and permanently save this land.

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