Arizona Forward’s Environmental Excellence Awards ‘reflect visionary efforts’

Source:  Queen Creek Independent – October 8, 2018

The Northern Arizona Forest Fund took the top honor Saturday night in the Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP at the Westin Kierland Resort. Judges also named the Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge as winner of the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future, and two new categories – Sustainability Champion and Waste Reduction – made their debuts. Northern Arizona national forests provide the majority of water to the Salt and Verde rivers and eventually into the homes of millions of Phoenix-area residents.

“But the health of the forests and watersheds is threatened,” according to a release announcing the winners. “The Northern Arizona Forest Fund was created to address these declining forest health conditions. To date, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund has completed over 10,000 acres of projects, reducing severe fire risk by about 25 percent.”

The Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge overturned a long-standing legal prohibition against potable water reuse. It also used craft beer to educate the public about the benefits of the “toilet to tap” revolution, the release stated. The team took to festivals, conferences, parades and expos to get their message out, which resulted in changing a law.

Arizona Forward celebrated the 38th anniversary of its signature awards program, drawing more than 500 social influencers and innovators representing public and private sector interests.

“I’ve attended the Environmental Excellence Awards as an Arizona Forward member for 20 years, and this year’s finalists show how far sustainability has come during that time,” stated Lori Singleton, Arizona Forward president and CEO. “Every year, we see a wider range of entries that make our communities healthier, more vibrant and more resilient.”

Finalist projects were submitted by Maricopa and Pima counties, as well as Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Tolleson and Tucson. “The results of this year’s competition reflect visionary efforts in both the public and private sector,” said lead judge John Flicker, who serves as president of Prescott College. “The judging panel had the diverse knowledge to evaluate how these projects will impact their communities well into the future. It was an honor for us to be part of this process.”

In addition to the Northern Arizona Forest Fund and the Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge, Crescordia winners include:

WURTH HOUSE (Kimber Lanning) – Buildings and Structures (Civic and Historic Preservation)

Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning saved a bungalow that was slated for demolition and gave it new life as the Local First Arizona headquarters. The process took more than three years to complete. Today, more than 30,000 people see the restored bungalow during monthly First Friday events.

OCOTILLO RESTAURANT (TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio) – Buildings and Structures (Commercial and Institutional)

The Ocotillo Restaurant features desert-adaptive materials and water-harvesting elements that blend into the Southwest. Desert palo brea and mesquite trees provide shade, while the restaurant’s namesake ocotillo plants are featured at key locations. A sunken lawn provides a gathering place and harvests water.

NORTHERN ARIZONA POLLINATOR HABITAT INITIATIVE (Green NAU)– Site Development and Landscape (Landscape and Preserves)

The Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative promotes the creation, protection and registration of pollinator habitat across Northern Arizona, while highlighting the important role pollinators fulfill in the global food supply. The effort increased local pollinator garden registration tenfold in its first year.

SPACES OF OPPORTUNITY (Orcutt Winslow) – Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

Spaces of Opportunity addresses community connections, food deserts and social justice and allows residents to learn about science, technology, engineering and agriculture. The incubator farm encompasses 3,000 square feet; kale, mustard greens and beets have sprouted this year.

MESA RIO SALADO – STADIUM CONNECTOR PATHWAY (City of Mesa – Engineering Department) – Healthy Communities (Multimodal Transportation and Connectivity)

The Mesa Rio Salado-Stadium Connector Pathway filled a 3.5-mile gap in the Valley’s network of shared-use paths along the Salt River, Crosscut Canal and adjacent neighborhoods. Community partners include the Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s, Riverview Development, SRP, Arizona Department of Transportation, Flood Control District of Maricopa County, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the cities of Mesa and Tempe.

SOUTH MOUNTAIN PARK AND PRESERVE TRAILS MASTER PLAN (City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department) – Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

The South Mountain Park and Preserve Plan will help the desert mountain preserve address the challenges of increasing popularity so future generations can connect with the desert. The plan identifies 51 miles of existing designated trails to be protected or improved and adopts 38 miles of existing non-designated trails into the designated trail system.

(Submitted photo)

U-HAUL – THE CONSERVATION FUND: UPPER GRANITE CREEK ASPEN RESTORATION PROJECT (U-Haul International) – Healthy Communities (Parks and Trails)

U-Haul designated a portion of customer contributions in 2017-18 to the National Forest Foundation to support its Prescott Aspen Restoration Project in the Prescott National Forest. One-hundred-fifty acres across two aspen stands were restored, protecting a watershed.

PEORIA POLICE PATROL SERVICES BUILDING (Energy Systems Design, Inc.) – Energy and Technology Innovation

The city of Peoria’s new Patrol Services Building provides an immediate return on investment through ongoing water and energy reduction while providing a comfortable work environment for Peoria’s officers and staff. The building’s energy costs will be 41 percent less than a typical building, and it is tracking LEED Gold certification.

GLENDALE DESERT FOOD FOREST (City of Glendale Water Services Department) – Environmental Education and Communication

Part regenerative landscape and part outdoor classroom, the Glendale Desert Food Forest connects residents to the Sonoran Desert’s array of water-wise edible plants. It includes more than 100 edible plants and involves partners such as the Glendale Public Library, Linking Edible Arizona Forests Network, Maricopa County Master Gardener program and Trees Matter.

GREG STANTON (Greg Stanton Supporters) – Sustainability Champion (Individuals)

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton worked to establish Phoenix as an oasis of pragmatic, economically beneficial environmentalism. He asked Phoenix voters to approve a tax increase to benefit mass transit while running for his own re-election, while also converting 100,000 Phoenix streetlights to efficient LED bulbs. Mr. Stanton was also instrumental in developing public-private circular economy partnership through ASU to raise landfill diversion to 30 percent.

COMPLETE LIST OF 2018 WINNERS

GOVERNOR’S AWARD FOR ARIZONA’S FUTURE

CRESCORDIA

Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

RISN Incubator – A partnership between the City of Phoenix and ASU

Submitted by: ASU Rob and Melanie Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Salt and Verde Alliance

Submitted by: The Nature Conservancy

BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES

Civic

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

LEED Gold Tolleson Fire Station + Administration Building

Submitted by: LEA-Architects, LLC

BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES

Historic Preservation

CRESCORDIA

Wurth House

Submitted by: Kimber Lanning

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

South Mountain Park and Preserve Big Ramada

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES

Commercial & Institutional

CRESCORDIA

Ocotillo Restaurant

Submitted by: TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Arizona State University – Biodesign Institute C

Submitted by: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

SITE DEVELOPMENT AND LANDSCAPE

CRESCORDIA

Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative

Submitted by: Green NAU

CRESCORDIA

Tohono Chul Park Master Plan

Submitted by: John Douglas Architects

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

Submitted by: TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Sustainable Communities

CRESCORDIA

Spaces of Opportunity

Submitted by: Orcutt Winslow

AWARD OF DINSTINCTION

Downtown Chandler Infrastructure Improvements: Commonwealth Avenue and Dakota Street Extension

Submitted by: Achen-Gardner Constructions, LLC

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Multimodal Transportation and Connectivity

CRESCORDIA

Mesa Rio Salado – Stadium Connector Pathway

Submitted by: City of Mesa – Engineering Department

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Tempe Bike Share Program

Submitted by: City of Tempe

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Public Policy/Plans

CRESCORDIA

South Mountain Park and Preserve Trail Master Plan

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Sustainable Workplaces

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Orcutt Winslow Office

Submitted by: Orcutt Winslow

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

CBRE Phoenix Workplace 360

Submitted by: Gensler

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Parks and Trails

CRESCORDIA

U-Haul – The Conservation Fund (TCF): Upper Granite Creek Aspen Restoration Project

Submitted by: U-Haul International

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Pioneer Park

Submitted by: Dig Studio, Inc.

ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION

CRESCORDIA

Peoria Police Patrol Services Building

Submitted by: Energy Systems Design, Inc.

ART IN PUBLIC PLACES

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

El Paso Greenway Project

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION & COMMUNICATION

CRESCORDIA

(Submitted photo)

Glendale Desert Food Forest

Submitted by: City of Glendale Water Services Department

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

“Up in the Air” an Air Pollution Education Program

Submitted by: Maricopa County Air Quality Department

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Master Recycler Program

Submitted by: City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section

SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION

Organizations and Projects

CRESCORDIA

Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department

SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION

Individuals

CRESCORDIA

Greg Stanton, Sustainability Champion

Submitted by: Greg Stanton Supporters

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Bill Auberle

Submitted by: Pinyon Environmental, Audubon Arizona, Northern Arizona University

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

U-Haul Sustainability Champion: Alexia Bednarz

Submitted by: U-Haul International

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Tim Thomure, Director, Tucson Water

Submitted by: Tucson Water

WASTE REDUCTION

CRESCORDIA

Waste Management Phoenix Open

Submitted by: Waste Management of Arizona

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Global Water Resources – Total Water Management

Submitted by: Global Water Resources

AWARD OF DISTINCTION

Barley to Beer: Saving the Verde River

Submitted by: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

PRESIDENT’S AWARD

Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation

Land and Water Conservation Fund Lauded for benefiting recreation, criticized for land acquisition

Source:  ASU Now by Mary Beth Faller, September 2018

The patio of the clubhouse at Encanto Park in Phoenix was an oasis of shade on a hot, sunny day earlier this week. There, Arizona State University Professor Dale Larsen described how a federal funding program has given millions of dollars to the city to create hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas — and shady spots.

That 54-year-old program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is set to expire Sept. 30. Over five decades, Arizona has received more than $230 million from the fund, which it has passed on to municipalities for projects including South Mountain Park and Goodyear Community Park, to state parks including Lost Dutchman and Slide Rock, and even to the Arizona Board of Regents for a park at the ASU West Campus.

The fund gave a total of $100 million to all 50 states this year, including $2.1 million to Arizona.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The money does not come from taxpayers, but from fees paid by energy companies that extract oil and natural gas along the Gulf Coast, according to Larsen, a professor of practice in the School of Community and Development. He was assistant director and then director of Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department for 27 years, retiring in 2010.

“That bipartisan legislation was an innovative way to share those funds all over the country in parks, conservation areas and wildlife areas as sort of an environment tradeoff,” he said.The fund divides the revenue into federal and state portions according to a formula that changes frequently, but for many years it was 60 percent federal and 40 percent state.

“Phoenix and other municipalities benefit from the state side,” he said. “The rest would go to federal agencies for purposes primarily of acquiring and expanding their federal property footprint, primarily in Western states. So the rub, over the years, has been from Western state legislators who think the LWCF has been used as a land grab for federal properties to be expanded, which would then preclude the opportunity for mining, for grazing or for hunting and fishing.”

The National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management use the fund to acquire more land. The conservative Heritage Foundation supports allowing the fund to expire, not only because the organization opposes expansion of federal lands but also because federal money is going to support local projects that should be funded in other ways.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, blocked reauthorization of the LWCF in 2015 because he believed too much of the money went to buy land in the West. However, this year, Bishop co-sponsored the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, with Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., to permanently restore the fund and also allocate money toward the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Parks Service.

Larsen said that the program has been frozen and temporarily extended a few times, but never been allowed to expire. The city of Phoenix has received more than $10 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund since it began. Larsen teaches a class at ASU called “creating community,” and he tells his students that parks not only provide recreational and environmental benefits but they also have an economic impact.

“Parks, if they’re managed properly, tend to increase the property values of the neighborhood they’re located in,” he said. But a poorly maintained park, with trash and graffiti, can lower property values. “In Phoenix, what is the most treasured commodity? Shade,” he said.“The LWCF provides shade development opportunities so people can enjoy those parks.”