Friends of Sonoita Creek is affiliated with and financially supports the Dirt Bags, a trailbuilding crew in the Patagonia-Sonoita Area.
Dirtbags Restore Area Trails
By Bob Brandt, for the Patagonia Regional Times in January 2020 issue
Normally calling someone a dirtbag might earn you a punch in the nose, but for the cadre of mostly ‘mature’ men and women who build and maintain trails in and around Patagonia, the term is a source of pride. They’ve even taken to donning caps declaring their membership in this group.
Working mainly in the fall and winter months under the direction of crew leader Chris Strohm and his assistant, Joe Watkins, the Dirtbags this season have already reconditioned several of the most popular trails in the area.
They began the season’s work by restoring and upgrading the Sonoita Creek-Blackhawk Loop at the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, the birding trail at Patagonia Lake State Park and the newly-named Paul Baird Trail that connects the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.
Also adjacent to the Paton Center, the Dirtbags supplied much of the labor needed to create a new birding trail that meanders through part of a 5-acre parcel now known as the Cuckoo Corridor that was recently transferred to Tucson Audubon by the Conservancy. This new loop trail begins across the road from the Paton Center and will eventually connect with the Montessori Trail.
Most recently, the group completed reconditioning of the two-mile Smith Canyon Loop Trail, a dominant feature of the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve which is owned and managed by Wildlife Corridors, LLC. They also cleaned up the new connecting trail that links the Smith Canyon Loop with the primitive cross corridor road that traverses the preserve.
The all-volunteer Dirtbag crew, which is affiliated with, and financially supported by, Friends of Sonoita Creek, is open to having new members join their ranks. If you enjoy physical labor and being outdoors, contact Joe Watkins (520-377-7294) or Chris Strohm (520-394-0280) for more information or to sign up.
In conjunction with the Arizona State Parks and the State Natural Areas, we are working on the fencing survey of Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. Cattle are constantly encroaching on the Natural Area land, destroying springs and the creek banks, eating young trees that are necessary to sustain the riparian area and tearing down the fences that keep them out of the Natural Area. Anne Townsend has been coordinating this work with our members as they assist personnel from the State Natural Area and from Arizona Fish and Game.