Rincon Institute

The Sonoran Desert with its beauty and unparalleled uniqueness inspires everything we do at The Rincon Institute.  The hardiness of this place belies its fragility.   There is a subtle art of life that exists here.  On a sweltering, dry June day, it is nearly impossible to imagine the richness that survives here, but the staff at the Rincon Institute maintains a keen focus on that richness.

Decaying Saguaro Cactus
Since 1991, The Rincon Institute has valued the splendor of the Sonoran Desert in east Tucson and has worked to protect the land, water, and wildlife of the Rincon and Vail Valleys.  These magnificent areas are being threatened by development and growth.  As a conservation organization in one of the fastest growing areas of the intermountain West, The Rincon Institute promotes planned growth that values open spaces and balanced conservation.  As a result, The Rincon Institute works locally to encourage residents, government land managers, developers, and rural producers to be partners in locally-driven land stewardship committed to conservation-oriented land use.

Natural Area Protection

Rincon Institute believes that with enough dedication, communication, and partnership we can create a sustainable balance of human needs and uses of the natural world while maintaining healthy ecosystems.  We offer private land owners options for conserving their land — (i.e. we are a land trust that holds conservation easements).  We help protect and expand Saguaro National Park.  We work with developers to ensure their developments have open spaces for wildlife and they use native plants in their landscapes.  We work with land mangers to create a sustainable and well-connected land preservation system that will ensure that the desert can thrive in east Tucson amidst the vast changes occurring everyday. 

Environmental Education

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, once wrote that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  At the Rincon Institute, we hope to light a fire of inspiration  Taking pictures of canyon tree frogs through our environmental education programs.  We offer free-of-charge workshops and naturalist outings (such as the one pictured to the right) where attendees learn about the miraculous land, water, and wildlife in the Rincon and Vail valleys.  We believe that when residents and stakeholders understand the special attributes and the important interconnections of this fragile place, they will work to promote its conservation.

Canyon Tree Frog  

Folks on a Rincon Institute Nature Adventure photograph a canyon tree frog.






Scientific Assessment

Rincon Institute's conservation efforts would be without a sound foundation if we did not have scientific data to guide our actions.  We not only rely on existing ecological studies, we also work with local experts to continue assessing the natural areas in the Rincon, Vail, and Tanque Verde valleys.  We partner with government agencies (especially the National Park Service) and ecological scientists in our community to conduct important long-term studies on the quality and quantity of the water in our aquifers, on the diversity and behavior of birds and wildlife, as well as the life cycles and health of the plant species that make the Sonoran Desert so unique.  We then share the information we learn with our partners -- people like you -- to help all of us well-informed choices about the future of our community.  In the image to the right, Rincon Institute staff undertake a range monitoring study on ImageState Trust Land in cooperation with the rancher and with the assistance of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the University of Arizona School of Natural Resources, and the United States Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service.  

Photos by Michelle Berry