The RIESTER Conservation Foundation has provided funding to the Audubon Research Ranch in Southern Arizona.
The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society was established as a wildlife sanctuary and research facility in 1968. Today, more than 80 science projects are ongoing, in cooperation with many agencies, universities, and ranching neighbors. Most of the research projects are directly related to understanding and protecting semi-arid grassland ecosystems. One of the research goals is to re-introduce Big Sacaton, a native, riparian species, into floodplains currently dominated by the non-native Coastal Bermuda to improve habitat for native wildlife. The results of this plan may benefit other land managers who are interested in re-establishing this native grass.
For several years, the Research Ranch has been attempting to restore the sacaton grasslands along the major riparian corridor of O'Donnell Creek and its tributaries. The Ranch transplants sacaton seedlings using procedures developed over the past several years.
There has been some success, but it has been determined that much of the effort and seed stock is wasted unless the transplants are irrigated through the two dry periods experienced each year until the roots of the plant reach the moist substrate below.
The RIESTER Conservation Foundation has contributed the funds necessary for an irrigation system and a number of sacaton plants. The Foundation will consider funding additional transplanting efforts in the future.