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Episode 23 – Tom Sheridan: Protecting the Sonoran Desert (II)

December 2022


Dr. Tom Sheridan is a research cultural anthropologist in the Southwest Center and professor in the University of Arizona School of Anthropology. Tom has researched and written numerous books and articles focused on northwest Mexico and the Southwest United States, beginning with his dissertation, which looks at a peasant corporate community in Sonora. More recent work includes a close collaboration with the Hopi tribe. Sheridan has also been a longtime student of ranching and ranch lands in southern Arizona, which led him, starting in the 1990s, to participate in the development of Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, the SDCP, one of the most innovative and successful county-led conservation efforts in the United States. Tom is currently researching and writing a book on the SDCP, including on the larger land-use and conservation dynamics shaping the region starting in the late 20th century, a convergence of forces that led to the successful development and implementation of the Plan.

This interview with Dr. Sheridan is the second installment of our two-part series focused on conservation in Southern Arizona. The first was with Brian Powell, who now serves as a Pima County Parks Superintendent with Pima County’s Natural Resource, Parks and Recreation department, and who for several years was pivotal to developing the county’s biological monitoring program.

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)
      · Tom’s research in the Southwest Center
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