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Saguaro Land: A look at the vastly shifting landscape of the Sky Islands

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2023 - 2:13pm
Updated: Monday, May 1, 2023 - 4:17pm

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Saguaro Land is a series from The Show looking at the Sonoran Desert — the lushest, hottest desert in the world that happens to be our home.

Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains.
Bob Van Deven Archives
Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains.

Within the Sonoran Desert sits what are called the Madrean Sky Islands.

There are 55 different sky islands in this region, to be exact — stretching from southern Arizona down to Sonora south of the border and even into parts of southwestern New Mexico. From desert floor to mountain tops, they can reach more than 10,000 feet in elevation. 

The Madrean Sky Islands region is incredibly environmentally unique. Traveling from the arid desert floor to the mountain peaks is equivalent in top to bottom distance as traveling from the Mexican border to the Canadian border — a distance moving from desert to grasslands to pine forests. 

They are some of the most biodiverse and environmentally unique regions in the world and a haven for scientists studying the ways plants and animals evolve to their surroundings. Emily Burns is the program director for the Sky Island Alliance. She joined The Show to talk about why they are a place to be protected.

Emily Burns
Sky Island Alliance
Emily Burns

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