The Arizona Land and Water Trust will receive an award later this month recognizing its excellence in environmental conservation efforts in Southern Arizona.
The nonprofit is receiving the National Land Trust Excellence Award as a result of its work on water issues and land preservation as well as its collaboration with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
“I hope that through winning this award it will bring attention to land trusts in general and the work that we do – and really all of the successful work that the trust has done here locally in Southeastern Arizona,” says Liz Petterson, Arizona Land and Water Trust executive director.
The Land Trust Alliance, which is awarding the distinction, specifically recognized three areas in which the nonprofit excelled.
First is the Desert Rivers Program, which allows the trust to lease water rights from farmers and ranchers to temporarily lower their water use. The organization then looks to see if the water can be restored to the rivers.
“Since 2007 we’ve secured about 1,200 acre-feet of water in the Upper Gila and San Pedro Rivers,” Petterson says. “One to two acre-feet of water is about what an average family uses in a year.”
Second is the trust’s conservation of historic ranches around Fort Huachuca.
Third is the trust’s work with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Program. Together they host free workshops in local and rural areas to provide sustainability tools, like help with estate planning, for farmers and ranchers.
The Arizona Land and Water Trust is Arizona's only water trust.