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Must citizens wait for government aid if they wish to preserve the historic and environmental richness of their surroundings?

Ecosystem scientist Ron Pulliam doesn't think so. Instead of counting on government help, he established Borderlands Restoration, L3C, which uses private-sector funding for habitat restoration while providing a small return to investors.

It works through the Borderland Habitat Restoration Initiative, a nonprofit citizen participation partnership that he also created. His innovative approach offers ways for ranchers to keep ranching and avoid subdivision of large tracts and for habitats and streams to be simultaneously restored.

Pulliam will be the keynote speaker Wednesday afternoon at the second session of this year's annual Sustainability Seminars at Academy Village, an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East.

A Patagonia resident and former science adviser to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Pulliam's talk is titled "Restoration Ecology: Sparrow, Jaguar, Chinese Grain Speculation." He will join these disparate elements into an "ecosystem whole," showing how each affects the others. He will describe restoration success stories and challenges, and others in progress.

Pulliam considered the borderland habitats between Interstate 10 and the Mexican border in Southeastern Arizona, realized they were in tough shape, and determined to make a difference.

His first task was to establish the Borderland Habitat Restoration Initiative to restore habitats and riparian areas and to work out new ways of rapidly propagating native plant materials, through working with ranchers, scientists, and The Nature Conservancy. Borderlands Restoration, L3C, came next.

He'll describe how it all came together in his 90-minute talk.

The 2013 Sustainability Seminars will conclude on Feb. 20 when Bob Sharp will discuss "Humans in the Borderlands: How Light is Our Footprint?"

If you go

• What: Sustainability Seminars, second of a three-part series on the borderlands of Southeast Arizona.

• When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Feb. 20.

• Where: Arizona Senior Academy Building at Academy Village, 13715 E. Langtry Lane.

• Admission: Free; donations accepted.

• Reservations: Recommended; email or call 647-0980.