The Desert Museum is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors! The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium. Beyond merely an attraction, the Museum's conservation and research programs are providing important information to help conserve the Sonoran Desert region.
More than just a great place to visit for the day, the AZ-Sonora Desert Museum is a hub for education and research focused on desert ecology, including research that directly addresses local conservation challenges. We host a wide variety of classes and programs for adult and kids, as well as volunteer-driven conservation projects, promoting the kind of public engagement with this environment that will make future conservation possible.
One current project addresses the spread of buffelgrass, an invasive species, in the Tucson area. Like many species that have moved into new environments with help from humans, buffelgrass thrives here in the normally non-grassy desert, away from the insects and other natural foes of its native environment. But buffelgrass takes the destruction a step fiurther— the dry grass is highly flammable, and while it tends to recover quickly from wildfires, the native plans do not. We believe this plant rivals climate change and water scarcity as our region's most pressing environmental issue, and we organize “buffet grass pull” events in problem areas, at which volunteers can help protect the desert.
Another important project addresses the decline of pollinators, particularly honey bees, in this region as in much of the world. This is a collaboration with Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, reflecting how directly this environmental issue effects the human food supply. In addition to creating high quality pollinator habitat throughout the city, we initiated a long-term study of wild bee populations in Las Milpitas de Cottonwood, a six-acre farm in the heart of Tucson.
Cover photo: Glenn Seplak / desertmuseum via Instagram.