TEP volunteers are getting dirty to clean up nature areas throughout the Tucson area as part of the company’s longtime support of the environment.
This winter and spring, volunteers are upgrading trails at a desert preserve, cleaning up a tranquil garden and removing invasive buffelgrass. TEP dedicates financial resources to promote sustainability through these and other activities.
Volunteer and professional crews worked on a trail restoration project at Sanctuary Cove, an 80-acre area that borders Saguaro National Park West near Marana. The trails are open to the public and offer a beautiful view of the Tucson valley.
TEP donated $5,000 to the All Creeds Brotherhood, which owns the property, to upgrade paths and add a kiosk with a map to the entrance.
“Our mission is to keep the land protected for people to find peace and tranquility in nature,” said Alison Boelts, Caretaker of Sanctuary Cove. “This grant will help us with our mission.”
TEP volunteers were among the crews at two working days in February and March. As part of the grant, Sanctuary Cove hired a consultant from Trails Inspire to develop a plan and guide volunteers through the process.
The upgrades come at a crucial time for Sanctuary Cove.
In 2018, the trails were severely damaged by a monsoon storm. The erosion formed additional paths off the existing trail, creating unsafe conditions for hikers. “The repairs were all done for sustainability and the safety of our hikers,” Boelts said.
In addition, the improvements are particularly critical before more residents move closer to the preserve, potentially causing more harm. A new housing development is planned at the Lazy K Bar Ranch nearby.
Run by a non-denominational, non-profit corporation, Sanctuary Cove operates on funds from events and wedding rentals, cottage rentals and donations. An Easter sunrise service is held annually.
“Our expenses are not high, but we are completely reliant on the good will of supporters like the folks who come and leave donations and generous corporate supporters, like TEP,” Boelts said. “In order to keep this land preserved, we are grateful for every gift.”
On March 28, TEP volunteers are planning to clean up the garden of Desert Ashram, a 26-acre meditation and relaxation spot with trees, cactuses and shrubs on the westside.
Nilesh Joshi, a TEP Programmer Analyst, is leading TEP’s effort to recruit volunteers. The crew will learn how to make berms and basins – a technique of rainwater harvesting that prevents water from flowing off the property and directs water to plants. Volunteers also will help revive and maintain the garden.
While Joshi has helped at the garden on his own, this is the first time he has recruited TEP volunteers. He said it is important to harvest water in our dry environment.
“Precisely because we live in the desert, harvesting rainwater is an important aspect of watershed management,” Joshi said. “Not only does it save water, but it can support wildlife habitat and reduce the heat island effect.”
Desert Ashram is operated by Truth Consciousness, a nonprofit, spiritual organization. To volunteer, contact Trevan Paynter at 520-991-9518.
TEP continues to promote the removal of buffelgrass, a non-indigenous grass that creates a wildfire hazard and chokes out native plants and vegetation, including saguaros.
Earlier this year, TEP helped publicize the many buffelgrass community pulls planned and organized by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum through March. To raise awareness, TEP distributes information about removal and prevention in our customers’ bills.
Many of our employees regularly volunteer during events, as well as their own efforts. The company also supports the eradication of buffelgrass by removing it from our substations, rights-of-way and project sites.
This story is part of our ongoing series highlighting one of TEP’s philanthropic focus areas – environmental stewardship. TEP works with non-profit partners to develop invitation-based donation requests for environmental efforts from April-June. Funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. Learn more about donations.