The first three months of 2017 have flown by, and while events across the globe have been rapidly unfolding and often distracting or enthralling depending on your viewpoint, here at the Sonoran Institute we’ve been a whirlwind of activity, and are determined to let nothing slow us down.
We’re still celebrating after our most successful Arizona Gives Day campaign ever – raising more than $40,000 this April 4! Thank you so much for all of you who gave and to our two incredible anonymous donors who matched your contributions! For those of you unfamiliar, Arizona Gives Day is a statewide 24-hour fundraising effort benefiting organizations that give back to Arizona communities. We’ve long been established as a leader in Arizona’s conservation efforts and have the track record to prove it. We hope we can count on your support next year.
It wasn’t long ago that I outlined some of our biggest upcoming challenges and opportunities. I also made a promise to rededicate our staff and programs to our much loved Western landscapes, Western communities, Western families, and the natural resources that sustain our way of life. I wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress we’ve already made.
- Our Western Lands & Communities team is moving forward with our partners from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to focus on the nexus between water and land-use planning – we have an exciting announcement about this later this spring so stay tuned! Planning a pilot community assistance program in Colorado is already underway, with training for around a dozen Colorado communities on the horizon this fall. Working with communities on the Front Range and the West Slope, we will secure Colorado’s water future and build a model for water security that can be deployed across the West.
- We’re working at the grass roots level with community leaders and environmental experts to plan for and adapt to climate change. We’ve built a coalition of community focused professionals to address the increasing frequency and intensity of storm water runoff. Together with our partners and community leaders we’re taking on the devastating seasonal flooding in underserved Tucson and Phoenix neighborhoods. In case you haven’t heard, we were selected as one of 4 organizations in the US and one of 28 organizations globally to receive the RBC Blue Water Leadership Grant that will support this effort in Tucson.
- As you know, the Sonoran Institute is a bi-national organization. In February, we gathered in Mexico for an all-staff retreat. For the first time ever, all Sonoran Institute staff were able to come together in Mexicali to share their ideas and experiences, and participate in teambuilding and strategy exercises. We toured some of our successful restoration sites and visited potential new sites, coming away reinvigorated for the work ahead.
- Collaboration is a part of our core values. We don’t want to leave anyone out of the effort to conserve the West. It’s because of the Sonoran Institute’s collaborative efforts that we are able to celebrate so much success. It was a collaborative effort that enabled the critically endangered Gila Topminnow to return to the Santa Cruz River and we were part of it. We will continue to lead collaborative effort promoting cross border water cooperation on the Santa Cruz and Colorado Rivers. We are also part of the major collaborative effort in Maricopa County to identify and protect open spaces – expanding on the work we did to help form the White Tanks Conservancy.
We remain undaunted by the work ahead. I won’t deny that there will be struggles and disappointments along the way, but our mission is clear. We have a vision for the future of the North American West. Imagine with me a future where humans and wildlife thrive, scenic vistas are preserved and water is abundant. At the Sonoran Institute this is what we strive for every day. But our geography is vast, our work expensive, and your support and dedication is both vital and priceless.
Thank you for being on board with us!
Blog Post By: Stephanie Sklar, Sonoran Institute
Stephanie Sklar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sonoran Institute.