Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. This USDA definition succinctly shows that agroforestry is a holistic tool in creating sustainable systems, but what does it look like on the ground? It is cooperation between roots that aerate and stabilize soil, animals that pollinate and disperse seeds, and fungi and bacteria that cycle nutrients. Cooperative, verdant beauty.
SWAAN, or the Southwest Agroforestry Action Network, came through Moab recently and many professionals in this field shared their knowledge, their case studies, and brainstormed ideas on how to make the southwest more resilient. A field trip to various spots around Castle Valley and Moab revealed that this area is quite the role model for agroforestry in the southwest.
In Castle Valley, a marvelous orchard helps create healthy soils for grass and alfalfa. Underneath the shade of the trees, excitable baby goats feast on the undergrowth, hopping around, providing entertainment and manure. Similarly, in Moab, the Youth Garden Project orchard is guarded by chickens strutting and bawking in the shade, eating droppings from the trees, and leaving droppings of their own.
At the “old” USU campus, curb-cuts, a green infrastructure concept, allow for stormwater to flow into park strips. Non-point source pollution gets absorbed into the soil and cleaned instead of flowing into the Colorado River. This extra water reduces the culinary water demand for the trees and shrubs that are flowering and providing habitat for pollinators.
Under the shady comfort of trees, a complex web of interactions occurs between an incredible assortment of lifeforms, microscopic and macro. The spread of agroforestry in all communities is about taking advantage of these interactions and providing a resilient source of clean water, delicious fruit, happy animals, and beautiful scenery.
Join us to learn about, and participate in our annual survey of butterflies of the La Sal Mountains. We’ll meet at the Moab Information Center 25 E Center St, Moab, UT. Saturday, July 2, 2022, at 8:00 AM.
The North America Butterfly Association participation fee is $3.00 per person.
The study area is generally along the LaSal Loop Road, but some gravel roads may require at least medium clearance 2WD.
Bring what makes you comfortable for the outdoors, including lunch, water and snacks. Short, moderate walks 9000’ or lower elevations are all that is expected. The trip leader and others may stay in the mountains until 3:00 PM, but leaving earlier or later may be up to each participant.
Also helpful, but not necessary to bring would be aerial nets, field guides, binoculars and cameras.
No expertise in butterfly identification is required. Attending experts will help you build your knowledge about the lives of butterflies.
Join the conversation about butterflies and moths of Southeastern Utah: