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The third tri-national symposium in Ajo is coming up soon – March 18-22 – where hundreds of people will come together to Celebrate the Sonoran Desert. This is a really unique event in our region – not to be missed if you can possibly make it! How often do you see a conference sponsored by such a variety of agencies? Since last summer, staff from all these entities have been meeting regularly to plan the event: two nonprofit organizations—the International Sonoran Desert Alliance and the Cabeza Prieta Natural History Association have done much of the legwork. Land management agencies very involved in planning include: Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Barry M. Goldwater Range, Bureau of Land Management, and in Mexico, the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve.  Law enforcement is engaged: Border Patrol, Ajo Station. And the Tohono O’odham Nation has played a very important role. The group has met in Ajo, Topawa, at Organ Pipe, and in Mexico in the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve.

One of the key interests, naturally, is border issues. This time there is a clear focus on working collaboratively. Projects that are both cross-agency and cross-border are being highlighted. The closing plenary session is called: Working Together, and features four such projects. There are also many sessions featuring Native American perspectives at this symposium, and there will be several elders presenting from the Tohono O’odham Nation and from the four O’odham Tribes. Mexico’s Pinacate Biosphere Reserve is featured at a Wednesday evening plenary session and dinner, and the honor they have recently received of being designated a World Heritage Site. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. “The Cabeza” will be celebrated on Thursday with a plenary session, individual sessions, and a celebratory dinner enjoying the views on top of Childs Mountain (with transportation provided).

For those able to arrive in Ajo on Tuesday the 18th, there are a selection of special guided field trips. Participants must sign up ahead of time—and event organizers caution that field trips are filling up fast. Registration is easy—just go to www.sonoransymposium.com and click on the registration tab and you’ll find yourself at an easy online registration page.  Tuesday evening a special exhibit opens in the Ajo Plaza Gallery: Redrawing Borders.  Symposium participants are invited to enjoy the exhibit along with the music of Javalina Combo and appetizers served by Ajo restaurants—under the arches in the Ajo Plaza. For those able to stay on until Saturday, Ajo’s annual Sonoran Shindig festival starts Saturday morning in the Ajo Plaza with all sorts of booths and vendors featuring all aspects of Sonoran Desert life—plants, animals, adventures, artists, artisans, food vendors, and you name it. There is everything from a Sonoran Desert photography contest to a coyote howling contest!

Ajo is an easy day trip from Puerto Peñasco / Rocky Point.  Some of the events are in the Ajo Plaza, with the majority of plenary and simultaneous sessions on Ajo’s Curley School Campus, just a block to the west of the Ajo Plaza. You can’t miss it—the highway from the border takes you right to the town plaza. Turn left and you are driving straight at the Curley School.

For more information and to register, please visit:


Registration fees are $50/day or $150 for the Symposium,

most meals are included.