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Atascosa Borderlands: Photographer, Ecologist Document Flora And Fauna In Remote Region Of Arizona

Atascosa Lookout
Looking south across the Highlands from Atascosa Lookout.

The borderlands of Arizona are frequently in the headlines, thanks primarily to migrants crossing or heated discussions about border security and walls. But even in areas that may seem desolate to the untrained eye, there remain sights that are deeply beautiful and truly reflective of the variety of plants and animals living there.

For several years, ecologist Jack Dash and photographer Luke Swenson have been chronicling the specific site of Atascosa Highlands as part of their project to conduct the first comprehensive survey of the flora and fauna — and how those have been affected by climate change and other factors. 

The Show spoke with both Dash and Swenson to learn about their project and what drew them to the highlands.

Atascosa Highlands border wall construction
Road building for border wall construction.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that other surveys have been conducted in the region.

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Steve Goldstein was a host at KJZZ from 1997 to 2022.