the team

Co-Principal Investigator

Netzin Steklis
Cienega Watershed Partnership 
Netzin Steklis is the coordinator for the Cienega Watershed Partnership. As a 12-year resident of Sonoita who has been active in 4H, “Wild about the Grasslands” ecology and ranching heritage summer camp, and other community programs, Netzin has strong relationships throughout the project area. Her ecology masters degree from Princeton and 20 years of work in Africa add to her qualifications for orchestrating effective community-based conservation efforts.

Co-Principal Investigator

Phil Rosen
University of Arizona
Dr. Phil Rosen has worked actively in research, monitoring, and the design and implementation of control methods for exotic and restoration of native aquatic species in the Southwest for 25 years, including intensive research and monitoringat LCNCA. He has  worked closely with involved agencies, especially BLM, Pima County, TNC, and USFWS. His experience in public-private conservation partnerships include work with the Malpai Group, Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, and Tucson neighborhoods, schools and residences.

Outreach Coordinator

Dennis Caldwell
Caldwell Design
Dennis Caldwell has conducted research and management on aquatic species in the Cienega Creek region for over 15 years. He has contracted for the BLM for 6 years for the removal of nonnative aquatic species from the LCNCA and has been actively removing bullfrogs and working on a crayfish eradication effort near the headwaters of Cienega Creek. Dennis has worked closely with ranchers in the watershed to gain trust and engage them in conservation management. He manages a multi-agency backyard frog refugia project in neighborhoods buffering Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Dennis is also a professional graphic designer with 26 years experience communicating conservation issues to the public through printed materials and interpretive signs.

Field Coordinator 

David Hall
David Hall has been involved in aquatic research in Southeastern Arizona for thirty years. He has designed research and conservation programs for the Coronado National Forest, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the University of Arizona. For the past twelve years David has focused on the design and implementation of studies dealing with the impacts that nonnative fish and bullfrogs have on native aquatic organisms. In addition David has been heavily involved in several successful nonnative species removals that required coordination between and among numerous government agencies. 

Financial Manager

Sandy Thomas


Gita Bodner
The Nature Conservancy
Dr. Gita Bodner has worked on conservation in the Sky Island region for 15 years, with a variety of non-profits and agency partners. She currently co-leads the science program for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, focusing on helping managers make better use of science and monitoring in natural resource management. She serves as an advisor and partner liaison for this project.

Jeff Simms

Bureau of Land Management
Fisheries Biologist
Mr. Jeff Simms is the Bureau of Land Management’s regional fish biologist, and has extensive academic training and field experience in aquatic amphibians and reptiles. With 20 years of work on endangered aquatic species in the Cienega watershed, he is the most experienced and knowledgeable observer of aquatic fauna in valley. Jeff has worked extensively with ranchers and agency managers and biologists in the Cienega Creek region as well as elsewhere in the region, and provides a direct outreach nexus to agencies, biologists, and managers in adjoining regions where lessons from this project may later be applied.

Karen Simms
Bureau of Land Management
Ecosystem Planner, Las Cienegas NCA
Karen Simms is the Ecosystem Planner for the BLM’s Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Karen has worked on Las Cienegas NCA and in the Cienega watershed for over 20 years as a wildlife biologist and land use planner. She has been a leader and an active participant in the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership (SVPP), a community based collaborative forum, since its inception in 1995. Through the SVPP, she worked with a variety of stakeholders including federal, state, and local agencies; conservation organizations; user groups; ranchers and other local residents on crafting the BLM’s Las Cienegas Resource Management Plan, which was approved in 2003. Karen continues to work with a wide variety of partners on implementation of the Resource Management Plan including restoration of species and vegetation communities; ecological monitoring and adaptive management; and stewardship projects for both adults and youth.