The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve has reopened to visitors, after having been closed for almost two years due to concerns over COVID19 safety. Preserve Manager Marty Lawrence is pleased that the public is back because, while he enjoyed the solitude for a bit, he soon realized he missed the interactions with the public and the opportunity to introduce them to the beauty of the Preserve.
Lawrence, and Preserve hosts Sooney and Nick Viani, here until early April, are enjoying the coming of spring. They are watching the decrease in winter birds, such as the western bluebird and white-crowned sparrows, as other migratory birds arrive. Anna’s and violet-crowned hummingbirds, who often take winter refuge at the Paton Center, are expanding their range to the Preserve, with the males staking out territory and preparing for the arrival of the females. Lazuli buntings are another favorite that have started on their way north, where they will summer in the northern Rockies. And, as always, visitors can see Coue’s white-tail deer and hope to catch a glimpse of the white-faced Coatimundi, especially down by Sonoita Creek.
Thirty-four new directional signs have been installed by the nonprofit Volunteers of Arizona. Lawrence said the group came to him and asked what was needed at the site, then sent a team to determine the best signage plan and, later, to install the metal signs on 14 signposts.
The Preserve is open Wednesday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. In April, the Preserve will open one hour earlier. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
New safety measures require masks to be worn in the restrooms due to limited space and ventilation. Social distancing is required around the Visitor Center and only staff and volunteers are allowed in the office. The gift shop is closed until further notice.