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Episode 22 – Brian Powell: Protecting the Sonoran Desert

March 2022


Brian Powell, currently a Parks Superintendent with Pima County’s Natural Resource, Parks and Recreation department, has spent the past two decades working to understand and protect biodiversity in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. In 2007, he was tapped by Maeveen Behan to develop a biological monitoring program for Pima County. In this interview, Powell describes efforts leading to the county’s innovative approach to preserving open space, starting in the late 1990s – the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. This was a time of fast-paced housing development, particularly on Tucson’s northwest side, and environmentalists were pushing for stronger controls on growth. This interview is the first in a two-part series focusing on conservation in Southern Arizona.

Hosted by Jeff Banister; post-production and edition by Carlos Quintero.

Notes and Resources

• The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan:
    · Origins of the SDCP (
    · Multi-Species Conservation Plan (
    · Timeline (


Getting involved:
    · Become a Volunteer (Sky Island Alliance)
    · Get Involved (Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection)


• Other links of interest:
     · The pygmy owl ( – Mating call of the pygmy owl (video)
      · Brian’s photography
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