2019 Northern Arizona Environmental Conference Follow-up and Outlook

A summary of the conference

On Saturday, January 26, 2019, around 150 Environmentalists from 45 organizations gathered at the Adult Center of Prescott for the First Annual Northern Arizona Environmental Conference. The event was sponsored by the Sedona-based Save Our Ancient Redrocks (SOAR), the Sedona/Verde Valley Group of the Sierra Club, and many other environmental groups in Arizona. The program featured presentations by many different groups on environmental issues in Northern Arizona. The day started with a welcome from Neil Sinclair of SOAR followed by a keynote address from Rebecca Tsosie of the University of Arizona (UA) who emphasized the importance of our relationship with the earth.  Peter Federici of Northern Arizona University (NAU) spoke of the multifaceted Environmental education program at NAU’s Sustainable Communities, and Joan McGregor of Arizona State University (ASU) spoke in a similar vein about programs at ASU’s School of Sustainability. Publicly funded UA, NAU, and ASU are the largest universities in Arizona.

Presentations were made by the Sierra Club’s Brian Myers and John Black regarding the recent fight in Sedona against the El Rojo Grande development project and by Amber Fields of Save the Dells about a large development project in Prescott and how it threatens the beautiful Dells area near Watson and Willow Lakes. Lee Bryant spoke about the very exciting programs within the City of Flagstaff to promote sustainability through educational programs that raise public awareness.

Joe Trudeau of the Center For Biological Diversity, Dennis Tomko of the Northern Arizona Audubon Society, and Mike Quigley of The Wilderness Society all spoke of their organization’s environmental programs in Arizona. Each organization is a major leader in environmental protection and conservation in the United States.

Many speakers talked about the need for public action through the ballot and toward affecting legislation. Doug Linney of the League of Conservation Voters and The Next Generation spoke about his experience in environmental campaigns and gave the assembled crowd a lesson on how to tailor environmental campaigns to appeal to the majority of Americans, and how to win campaigns. Lucy Mason of Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (ARISEIA) spoke of ARISEIA’s efforts to bring about more clean power in Arizona from solar and how to work with the legislature, while Andrea Christelle of the League of Women Voters of the greater Verde Valley talked about the League’s programs to help those who wish to change legislation and/or run for office.

Nancy Steele of Friends of the Verde River and Steve Estes of Verde Valley Land Preservation talked about the importance of the Verde River and the Verde Valley, and about their current efforts to build collaborating partnerships for protecting the Verde River and its watershed. Birgit Loewenstein and Peggy Chaikin of SOAR talked about various tools for collaboration between Northern Arizona’s environmental groups, including tools for communication. Steve Estes’ band, Thunder and Lightnin‘, entertained the crowd with original acoustical music and songs that have an environmental theme.Ed Wolfe presented charts and graphs showing the fall in the water level of aquifers in the Prescott area, and how those same aquifers are related to the Upper Verde River basin. Lisa Test gave a shocking presentation on the effects and threats of Fracking in Northern Arizona.  Rolf Vom Dorp showed data on the awareness of Climate Change in Northern Arizona, and the threats to the environment here.

Panera Bread, an event co-sponsor, provided lunch, which everyone agreed was delicious. Their staff served the meals and helped clean up, recycling most waste. Many groups brought literature for reading and distribution.

The conference closed with a Panel Discussion featuring Mike Quigley of The Wilderness Society, Katie Davis of Wildlands Network and Program Director of Western Wildway, Tom Slaback of the Sierra Club, Lucy Mason of ARISLEIA, and Doug Linney of League of Conservation Voters and The Next Generation, who fielded questions by Conference participants.

The main goal of the conference was to provide a forum for education and networking. This seemed to occur in many corners as those present discussed collaboration and future communication. In conclusion, and according to the survey, the conference was hailed as a success by the attendees and a repeat in 2020 was requested.

The Presentations

The following presentations are in PDF format and are available for viewing. Click on the title to preview.