Protecting our Desert Seas and Mountain Islands.

Tucson, AZ   |


Sky Island Alliance protects and restores the diversity of life and lands in the Sky Island Region of the U.S. and Mexico. We’re working to ensure the Sky Islands are a place where nature thrives, open space and clean water are available to all, and people are connected to the region and its innate ability to enrich our lives. Learn more at

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Louise Misztal

Main address

P.O. Box 41165

Tucson, AZ 85717 USA

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NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Sky Island region is a unique place on earth where the Sonoran desert meets forested mountains and a vast diversity of plants and animals live. Fragmentation of open space and natural areas, decreased availability of water and warming temperatures from climate change all threaten wildlife and the natural areas they depend on to survive. We are currently responding to the imminent threat of border wall construction that would bulldoze over a hundred miles of pristine and remote wildlife habitat and block wildlife movement. If built, the Sky Island region will be severed in two, destroying pathways for wildlife, damaging vital rivers and streams, and ending jaguar recovery in Arizona.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Border Wildlife Study

The US-Mexico border region is one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America and runs through the heart of the Sky Islands. This year we launched an unprecedented binational study which includes placement of 60 wildlife cameras in The Path of the Jaguar to study the diversity of wildlife species living and moving here. We are giving these remarkable animals - like jaguars, ocelots, and bears - a voice in the decisions being made in Washington D.C. that may result in devastating impacts to their habitat. Animals

Population(s) Served

We keep wildlife thriving and connected. We use wildlife cameras, and trained volunteer trackers on both sides of the border to study the rich diversity of wildlife species and their migration patterns. We track wildlife movement in washes, canyons and streams, to learn about and create safe pathways across roads and barriers. Since 2000, Sky Island Alliance has trained hundreds of wildlife volunteers and analyzed more than 30,000 wildlife observations collected by cameras and wildlife tracks and signs.

Population(s) Served

We protect and restore streams, springs, and watersheds to ensure clean flowing water sustains wildlife and natural areas. We work with volunteers to bring damaged streams and springs back to flowing health and restore native plants to provide for wildlife and pollinators. We map and assess the health of springs, to identify those that are most vulnerable so we can protect them for future generations. And, we develop policy to support protection of water for natural areas.

Population(s) Served

- We inspire and empower people to connect with and care for the wildlife, water and lands of the Sky Islands. We connect experts, students and volunteers across borders, to share information, visit new places, and work together on restoration and other projects. And, we foster the next generation of conservation leaders in the U.S. and Mexico through trainings, internships and fellowships.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

At Sky Island Alliance we protect and restore the diversity of life and lands in the Sky Island region by connecting wildlife pathways, protecting critical water sources, and promoting public appreciation of the unique Sky Islands. We use science, education, and advocacy to connect the bi-national landscapes, people, and wildlife of the Sky Islands for the benefit of all.

Our uniquely diverse borderlands thrive on the mingling of wildlife and plant species, people, and cultures from north and south. Sky Island Alliance is keeping wildlife connected and thriving, water flowing, and people connected to this unique region through our restoration and conservation work.

Conserving Wildlife:
Border Wildlife Study - Launched in Spring 2020, the Sky Island Alliance’s new bi-national Border Wildlife Study, documents the remarkable diversity of wildlife species in the Sky Island region of Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico — collecting data on wildlife populations and movement in a section of the border that is under imminent threat from the Trump administration’s proposed border wall. Announced in early 2020, nearly 100 miles of new border wall sections are proposed to cut the Sky Island region in two. The wall will stop many wildlife species in their tracks, including jaguars, wolves, ocelots (whose reintroduction to the US is a focus of bi-national conservation efforts), pronghorn, black bear, pygmy owls, box turtles, and dozens of species of butterfly.
The bi-national Border Wildlife Study, a collaborative project between the Sky Island Alliance, Patagonia Area Resources Alliance and Mexican-partner Naturalia Sonora, fills this serious gap in environmental review by rigorously documenting border wildlife, including the installation of a camera array across 35 miles of the Patagonia Mountains, San Rafael Valley and Huachuca Mountains in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico. Capturing photos and video 24/7, the project generates tens of thousands of images weekly, which will be used to both document the incredible wildlife of this biological hotspot – the most biodiverse region of North America- and advocate for the urgent protection of critical wildlife corridors in the face of border wall construction.
Protecting Water:
In the arid sky islands, water is a precious resource for all life. Our water program maps and tracks the health of springs to identify where water sources are most vulnerable so that we can help protect springs for future generations.
• We protect and restore seeps and springs that are valuable water sources.
• We use onsite materials such as rocks and brush to create structures to stop and prevent erosion issues.
• We install native plants that enhance wildlife habitat and help anchor soils.
• We exclude livestock from sensitive riparian areas.
Connecting People to The Sky Islands:
Our work in natural resource conservation is closely tied to our community engagement work. At Sky Island Alliance we work to inspire people to feel deeply connected to the region and to one another. Through our volunteer trips we train participants to become citizen scientists who can study, understand and conserve the Sky Island region.
Through our coordination work we help land managers and conservation professionals in Mexico and the US connect with one another to address regional threats and design creative solutions together. Through our stewardship work we create spaces for communities and students from both countries to learn from one another and together help save the region for generations to come.

Sky Island Alliance has been protecting and restoring the wild lands, wildlife and waters that embody the Sky Island region since 1991.

We have a proven track record in connecting people and science to conservation action. We use the best available scientific and management information to bring private landowners, federal and local government agencies, conservation organizations research institutions, and universities together to proactively push the practice of conservation forward. By engaging scientists, land managers, and citizens to create this science-based conservation blue-print, we are connecting the dots between planning and conservation action.

We are passionate about our work, so that our children today, and future generations tomorrow, can enjoy clean air, clean water and visit natural places in the Sky Islands with abundant wildlife.

Sky Island Alliance has already installed over 50 wildlife cameras across the Patagonia
Mountains, San Rafael Valley, and Huachuca Mountains since April 2020, with
more on the way. Capturing photos and video 24/7, the project will generate thousands
of images weekly. The study is already detecting a remarkable diversity of wildlife species - more
than 27 species within just days of camera installation. Wildlife detected include: mountain lion, white-nosed coati, ringtail, bobcat, gray fox, javelina, kangaroo rat, white-tailed and mule deer, Montezuma quail, American kestrel, Northern harrier, Mexican jay,
and red-tailed hawk.

Starting in 2017, we partnered with the Springs Stewardship Institute, Saguaro National Park in Arizona, and the University of Sonora in Mexico. Together, we hosted two major workshops in Sonora on methods to conduct springs assessments, after which we were able to detect and survey 25 springs located in the Sierra la Madera (15 springs) and in the Sierra el Tigre (10 springs).



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 04/25/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Michael Van Alsburg

The Van Alsburg Law Firm, PLLC

Term: 2021 -

Board co-chair

Elia Tapia-Villasenor

Professor of Geology, Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Term: 2021 -

Juan Carlos Bravo

Bill Bemis


Elaine Walsh

Chair- External Committee

Tim Wernette


Larry Fisher

Adriana Zuniga

Elia Tapia Villasenor


Michael Alsburg


Emeil Brott

Treasurer, Chair Finance Committee

Sofia McGoffin

Robert Grey

Pam Rossetter

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/25/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/25/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.