On May 25th, 2019, the birding community and the world lost a great naturalist and friend. Mary Jo Ballator was unique in her appreciation and love of birds, wildlife and nature as well as her dream to share that love with the public. Towards that end, she created the Ash Canyon B&B, an Audobon designated Important Bird Area, and sanctuary that was opened all year for people to come to visit for a while. It is a place where birders from around the world saw rarities and life birds such as the Lucifer Hummingbird, Montezuma Quail, Plain-capped Starthroat and others. In addition to the important species of birds, the Mary Jo Ballator Nature Sanctuary is part of an important Pollinator Pathway.
The Friends of Mary Jo Ballator Memorial Nature Sanctuary was created to continue Mary Jo's legacy and operate the bird sanctuary as a memorial to her. For now, we will change the name of the Ash Canyon B&B to the Mary Jo Ballator Memorial Nature Sanctuary.
Mary Jo's memory will live on in the hearts and minds of the many who have met her over the years. Her sanctuary for birds and bird watchers (a.k.a. "birders") will also live on as a tangible expression of heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the tireless work she did.
Our immediate goal is to make sure we cover costs for daily operation, including feed and any directly-related costs. Our more ambitious long term goal, with the encouragement of Mary Jo's children, is to ensure the continued access of the sanctuary to birders, scientists, academia, and youth.
Thankfully, a group of volunteers, including Mary Jo's son David, has been formed to manage the daily feeding of the birds and upkeep of the property. It is expensive to maintain the yard, and there is a lot of work to be done, both on projects Mary Jo had started and others to keep the sanctuary accessible. Those projects include:
- Maintaining the current feeders and feeding schedule
- Creating a memorial wall, which will share Mary Jo's vision, a photo of her and a daily list of birds currently seen in the yard.
- Upkeep of the garden and water features
- Maintenance of the common areas both outside in the yard and inside in the food preparation area the house.
To achieve our goal, and ensure that the yard is there when you come for your visit, we need your help! By making a donation either at the yard or through this fundraiser, you will be paying Mary Jo's legacy forward and providing the resources needed to keep her dream alive.