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 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.




Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department


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

Submitted by: ASU Rob and Melanie Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative


Salt and Verde Alliance

Submitted by: The Nature Conservancy




LEED Gold Tolleson Fire Station + Administration Building

Submitted by: LEA-Architects, LLC


Historic Preservation


Wurth House

Submitted by: Kimber Lanning


South Mountain Park and Preserve Big Ramada

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department


Commercial & Institutional


Ocotillo Restaurant

Submitted by: TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio


Arizona State University – Biodesign Institute C

Submitted by: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.



Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative

Submitted by: Green NAU


Tohono Chul Park Master Plan

Submitted by: John Douglas Architects


Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

Submitted by: TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio


Sustainable Communities


Spaces of Opportunity

Submitted by: Orcutt Winslow


Downtown Chandler Infrastructure Improvements: Commonwealth Avenue and Dakota Street Extension

Submitted by: Achen-Gardner Constructions, LLC


Multimodal Transportation and Connectivity


Mesa Rio Salado – Stadium Connector Pathway

Submitted by: City of Mesa – Engineering Department


Tempe Bike Share Program

Submitted by: City of Tempe


Public Policy/Plans


South Mountain Park and Preserve Trail Master Plan

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation


Sustainable Workplaces


Orcutt Winslow Office

Submitted by: Orcutt Winslow


CBRE Phoenix Workplace 360

Submitted by: Gensler


Parks and Trails


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

Submitted by: U-Haul International


Pioneer Park

Submitted by: Dig Studio, Inc.



Peoria Police Patrol Services Building

Submitted by: Energy Systems Design, Inc.



El Paso Greenway Project

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department



(Submitted photo)

Glendale Desert Food Forest

Submitted by: City of Glendale Water Services Department


“Up in the Air” an Air Pollution Education Program

Submitted by: Maricopa County Air Quality Department


Master Recycler Program

Submitted by: City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section


Organizations and Projects


Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation


Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department




Greg Stanton, Sustainability Champion

Submitted by: Greg Stanton Supporters


Bill Auberle

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


U-Haul Sustainability Champion: Alexia Bednarz

Submitted by: U-Haul International


Tim Thomure, Director, Tucson Water

Submitted by: Tucson Water



Waste Management Phoenix Open

Submitted by: Waste Management of Arizona


Global Water Resources – Total Water Management

Submitted by: Global Water Resources


Barley to Beer: Saving the Verde River

Submitted by: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)


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.”

Baby boomers retire here for the hiking, yet Arizona starves its parks. How smart is that?

Source:  Opinion by Linda Valdez – Arizona Republic – – September 17, 2018

Opinion: Arizona’s environment is an asset. Yet we are starving the state parks that provide exactly
what baby boomers say they want from us.  Arizona’s has a fast horse in the race to attract Baby Boomer retirees. But our state is starving the poor beast. Recent census figures put Arizona second only to Florida as a destination for today’s retirees, according to reporting by The Republic’s Catherine Reagor. And what is at the top of the list of what these retirees want? — Hiking. It’s the great outdoors that Baby Boomer retirees crave, and we’ve got plenty of it. But we aren’t taking care of it.


  • The total operating budget for Arizona’s State Parks was $29 million in fiscal 2018, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. This is $15 million less than what Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute said was needed in 2009 to operate and maintain the state’s parks.
  • Since 2009, state parks have gotten no general fund money.
  • The parks don’t get to use all of the money they bring in through gate receipts and concessions. That money goes into the State Parks Revenue Fund, which reported total revenue of $20,460,700 in fiscal 2018. Only $14.4 million of it was appropriated back to the parks.
  • More than a decade ago – in 2007 – the parks had fewer visitors and more money. The fiscal 2007 parks budget was $37 million, and that included $27 million from the general fund.
  • During the recession, Arizona’s GOP-controlled Legislature stripped away $10 million a year in Heritage Fund money that had been dedicated to the parks by a 1990 citizens’  initiative. This funding, which came from the Lottery, has not been restored.
  • In 2014, then-Parks Director Bryan Martyn put a $80 million price tag on the cost of needed capital improvements in the parks – no-frills things like water lines and septic tanks.
  • Gov. Doug Ducey’s Parks Director Sue Black has faced criticism and investigations over her treatment of staff, according to reporting by The Republic’s Craig Harris. Concerns about her leadership remain but have not been resolved.

Open spaces mean economic growth

This isn’t just about the spiritual, emotional and psychological benefits nature provides to those who take the time to get out into the wide open spaces. This is about cold, hard cash. It’s about planning for an economically sustainable future. Arizona’s environment is an asset. It attracts people. That’s increasingly true as the large cohort of Baby Boomers look for retirement options that include outdoor experiences. Our State Parks include first-class natural, archaeological and historical sites. The parks need to be properly maintained to conserve the resource and give visitors a first-class experience.

It’s a National Parks problem, too

Arizona’s parks – along with Arizona’s wealth of National Parks and other federal lands – give us an edge in attracting Baby Boomer retirees who have money to spend on an outdoor lifestyle. And guess what? There’s a problem at the national level, too. The Restore Our National Parks and Public Lands Act of 2018 aims to begin spending on deferred maintenance on federal public lands. The price tag in Arizona alone is $531 million, including $330 million in needed maintenance at Grand Canyon National Park. Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Kyrsten Sinema are original sponsors. Other Arizona House members signed on are Democratic Reps. Tom O’Halleran and Ruben Gallego, as well as Republicans Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko. The bill is not moving.

Arizona’s missed opportunity

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Ducey and his Republican colleagues in our Legislature like to talk about their commitment to economic development. But they lack awareness of how to market and maintain Arizona’s natural assets. They are systematically starving the horse that can help us win the national competition for retirees who want exactly what our state parks offer.


Protect the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

Special to the Arizona Daily Star by Liz Petterson – August 2, 2018

“Few of us can hope to leave a poem or a work of art to posterity; but working together or apart, we can yet save meadows, marshes, strips of seashore, and stream valleys as a green legacy for the centuries.” — Stewart Udall

Tucson-based Arizona Land and Water Trust partnered with the federal Bureau of Land Management in 2014 to add 356 protected acres to Ironwood Forest National Monument northwest of Tucson.  Home to Ironwood trees reaching over 800 years in age, the property provides steep, rocky slope habitat for desert bighorn sheep, the last endemic population in the Tucson basin. The funds for the property’s protection came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Created by Congress in 1965, and spearheaded by then Interior Secretary and former Arizona congressman Stewart Udall, Land and Water Conservation Fund was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities — not with taxpayer dollars, but with a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees.

Now, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is set to expire on Sept. 30. It is critical that the Land and Water Conservation Fund be permanently reauthorized with full, dedicated funding. The fund is authorized to receive up to $900 million annually but over the years, more than $20 billion have been diverted elsewhere. Even so, the fund has protected land in every state over its 53-year history and supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects.

Arizona has received approximately $235 million in fund dollars, protecting places such as the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Parks, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Tumacácori National Historical Park and San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

In Pima County alone, the fund has contributed to more than 150 projects, including the City of Tucson’s Reid, Kennedy, Udall, Fort Lowell and Lakeside parks; a dozen school and local park playgrounds, courts, sports fields and swimming pools; Dennis Weaver Park in Oro Valley; Tucson Mountain and Arthur Pack regional parks and The Loop in Pima County; and Catalina State Park.

Arizona’s natural beauty and its recreational opportunities fuel the state’s economy. According to the Arizona Department of Tourism, 43 million people visited Arizona in 2016 and spent $21.2 billion in the state, supporting 201,000 jobs and generating $5.7 billion in wages and salaries and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Legislation proposed in Congress to permanently reauthorize and fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, including one introduced by Rep. Raúl Grijalva, continues to have bipartisan support. A March 16 letter to leaders of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies supporting the fund was signed by Reps. Grijalva, Kyrsten Sinema, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran and Martha McSally.

Arizona Land and Water Trust has worked with willing landowners and government agencies — BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish, Fort Huachuca and Pima County among others — for 40 years to protect 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat and working ranches and farms in Southern Arizona for future generations.

We were honored to receive the assistance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 2014. It makes sense to use a small portion of the fees from the withdrawal of our country’s natural resources to preserve its beautiful and environmentally critical places.

Please contact your representatives and senators. Don’t let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire.