Verde Valley Land Preservation Institute: We Love Open Space!
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In the twelve years since the organization of Verde Valley Land Preservation, the Board of Directors has worked with planning directors, state agencies, federal agencies, special interest organizations and the public who all have an interest in the future of the Verde Valley and its environment. VVLP has held forums and public meetings, partnered with others to inform and gather feedback from all stakeholders. These are some of our accomplishments to date:

One for the Verde, now under the roof of Friends of Verde River Greenway, is a local program that will enhance the Verde Valley by funding Verde River preservation, river access and open space primarily along the Verde River and Oak Creek. The program was launched in late 2013 and now has more than 45 local businesses participating. This effort to involve the local business community in funding river related projects works to benefit the local economy and the river that makes it possible to live in the Verde Valley.

Projects help:
Restore water flows in the Verde River
Preserve riparian areas and habitats
Obtain conservation easements
Improve water quality in our watershed
Open scenic access to the river
Create a Verde River Eco-Destination
Enhance the Verde Valley economy
Protect our open spaces and viewsheds
Educate our community about the importance of healthy, naturally flowing streams

(Visit our supporting businesses)

How It Works
Funds for our projects are provided solely by the participating businesses through voluntary donations from customers, donations from the business or various sales promotions.

Any projects seeking funding must complete a formal application and review by a selection commitee including participating businesses.

Participation can cost your business nothing.
You can enhance your image with ecotourists and the community.
You will gain free press and advertising.
Give it a try - it's easy to sign up.

"Leaders On The River"

Drafting on the momentum of "A River Runs Thru Us", VVLP undertook a similar project that engaged policymakers and other community leaders. Dubbed "Leaders on the River" the event occurred April 5th and 6th. Sedona Adventures guided and catered the entire event. 28 elected and other community leaders kayaked and camped and 40-plus attended the presentation and campfire discussion. Professor Robert Glennon's ( reputation turned out to be a great draw. True to our planning conversations, Professor Glennon brought his insight and capacity to inspire a stimulating discussion around the campfire that continued hours after formalities adjourned. We heard elected officials from all the Verde Valley municipalities as well as the communities of West Yavapai County. Other community leaders from agencies and non-profits also participated. A follow-up forum with the purpose of stimulating policy continuity across the jurisdictions in the Verde watershed occurred October 21, 2014.

"A River Runs Thru Us"

The celebrated "A River Runs Thru Us" project involved choosing and placing 25 artists on a 3-day, 2- night guided kayaking experience on the Verde River. From that experience, they generated original works of art and donated them to VVLP. The works traveled in an exhibition with extended stops in Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, Phoenix, and Prescott. The vast majority of the works were sold at auction in May. Six are still available and can be seen at our website and the Cottonwood Library. The story, however, does not end there. So inspiring and beautiful were these pieces, that the same group of artists was invited to have their river inspired works exhibited as a project of VVLP in the art museum in Terminal 2 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The exhibit has been extended through January 11, 2015, so make sure your holidays traveling friends and family take it in! Also, see a recent New Times article about the art museum in which our exhibit is noted.

Cliffrose Trailhead

Jon Hutchison, Verde Independent 8/28/13 Full article

VVPOA Nature Preserve

Steve Ayers, Camp Verde Bugle 9/8/12 Full article
Jon Hutchison, Verde Independent 4/25/13 Full article
With funding from US Fish & Wildlife Service, 35 acres along the Verde river owned by Verde Village Property Owners Association was transformed into a nature preserve. No longer used as a dumping ground and ORV track, the new VVPOA nature preserve is now a nice place for people to walk and enjoy the river and wildlife. Funding was used to remove trash and invasive plants and to install vehicle barriers and a kiosk.

Riverside Habitat Restoration

Steve Ayers, Camp Verde Bugle 8/6/11 Full article
"Last year, representatives from various agencies and organizations, under the umbrella of the Friends of the Verde River Greenway, began forming a plan to bring the invasive plants along the Verde River and its tributaries under control.
At the top of their list were four woody plants: tamarisk, aka saltcedar, arundo donax, aka giant reed, Russian olive and tree of heaven.
The bones of that plan were released on Tuesday.
"Now the work begins," says Fred Phillips, whose company helped formulate the plan.
To date the group has formed partnerships with several property owners in the stretch of river between Clarkdale and Beasley Flat.
"We have enthusiastic support from nearly every private property owner," says Steve Estes, outreach coordinator for the group. "The list includes Cemex, Freeport McMoRan and Salt River Project. To make this project work we know we will need the support of every landowner, large or small."
The scope of the overall project includes almost 460 miles of river.
"We are looking for innovative solutions. That's what it will take to succeed," says Chip Norton, with the Friends of Verde River Greenway. "We think this effort will make a difference because we have such a diverse group working with us."
The group received a $150,000 grant to begin their work, which will include three demonstration projects covering 525 acres, this fall.
The group's ultimate goal is to reduce the tamarisk and tree of heaven population to less than 10 percent of the total canopy cover and to remove Russian olive and giant reed wherever they can get to it.
"We have a zero tolerance policy for those two," Norton says.
In addition to removing the invasive plants and replanting with native species, the group will also be working with local nurseries to offer alternative plants that do not pose a problem to the ecosystem and educating the public as to how not to exacerbate the problem."

3/10/12 CV Bugle article: Invasive plant eradication plan under way on Verde River

Community Outreach Project

The Community Outreach Project was a joint undertaking of Verde Valley Land Preservation and the Friends of the Verde River Greenway. The program explored how to sustain the riparian and riverside habitat to maintain a healthy Verde River environment and preserve the river flows. Those who own property along the Verde river and its feeder creeks were to be a part of that exploration. Their interest in the preservation and restoration of the habitat along the borders of their property was to be determined. Engaging private land managers in conservation conversations resulted in activities on some properties that either improved riverside habitat, enhanced the existence of open space in the Verde Valley, or both. The Project Director, Steve Estes, was hired under a Walton Family Foundation grant. He devised a strategy that used input from marketing and environmental consultants. The first major report details achievements related to the various expected outcomes(also called "deliverables")with the funding entity. Friends of Verde River Greenway has continued this effort primarily through their river restoration program. If your land borders the river and you would like a consultation on restoration and/or preservation, contact Laura Jones or Anna Schrenk at FVRG

Verde River Paddle Guide

"The 26-page guide is a project of Verde Valley Land Preservation (VVLP), with fieldwork done by long-time river runner and Verde advocate John Parson and his assistant Josh Wheeler. Chip Norton, president of the Verde River Greenway, wrote the guide with assistance from VVLP's Bob Rothrock. It is composed of nine maps with accompanying narrative and GPS waypoints. It also gives directions to all the river access points along the stretch, places boaters can launch or exit the river"
Full article in Verde Independent

Download the Verde River Paddle Trail Map here

The Overlay Project

With the help of a Yavapai Foundation Grant, VVLP has completed a new format to view the natural resources of the Verde Valley. It was developed by the Arizona State Parks planning department from an outline developed by VVLP. The Overlay project uses Google Earth overlay maps to illustrate current and historical conditions on the ground and through the expert analysis of the federal and state agencies provides existing data encompassed in overlays of, for instance, wildlife corridors, riparian areas, agricultural lands, existing trails, public and private ownership of parcels and cultural and historic areas. The goal is to use this information to prioritize possible acquisitions for open space and to help local government and NGO's plan better as communities grow.

In this image, municipal boundaries are in white, wildlife corridors (2004 study) are in purple, state lands are blue and AZ Preserve Initiative (API) eligible areas are in brown. The API encourages preservation of select parcels of state land. Usually those within 1-3 miles of municiple boundaries.
3/2/10 Verde Independent  Overlay maps presented to intergovernmental meeting

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The Yavapai County Verde Valley Regional Land Use Plan

VVLP played a major role in the regional planning process in 2006-07 and brought our Open Space Map to be included in the document. Our focus was in the open space section of the plan and VVLP was assigned a leadership role in carrying out the open space recommendations. The plan is to:

  • Achieve protection of carefully identified parcels based on certified criteria
  • Manage conservation easements and other qualifying parcels
  • Maintain an active map of the prioritized open space parcels in the Verde Valley

Regional Land Use Map

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Existing Conditions of Verde Valley Open Space map

One of the first tasks VVLP completed was to gather the municipal and county planners, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Arizona Land Department and several private planners and architects to bring all their information to the table for a shared map of current and contemplated open space in the Verde Valley. The map that resulted from this exercise has become the standard map now used for Verde Valley regional land planning.

Potential Priority
Open Space Parcels

VVLP was awarded a Yavapai Community foundation Grant to study more carefully where the most valuable areas to preserve are and to map them. Parcels within the National Forest or adjacent to parks and monuments are of high open space value. Other special factors such as wildlife habitat, significant archaeology, agriculture and scenery are also considered when choosing parcels.

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Community Forums & Public Participation Meetings

VVLP has held the following meetings over the initial 8 years of operation examining similar organizations to study their successes:

  • Sierra Business Council - a presentation of successful stories by the Sierra Business Council of California who has preserved many parcels of land along the Sierra Nevada foothills. They also have a great fund raising plan that assesses $1 on each night in a hotel or motel and each meal at local restaurants in Truckee, California.

  • Trust for Public Lands - has a well funded program for Arizona partnerships in land acquisition.

  • The Lincoln Institute's film "Making Sense of Place" was the cornerstone of another forum. It gave food for thought on what has happened to the Phoenix area with its rampant growth and loss of identity. The workshop section of the forum elicited ideas on how the Verde Valley can learn from those mistakes and think more carefully about what we value.

  • Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan - An excellent example of a land use and conservation plan operating in Pima County, Arizona. The officials from Pima County gave a seminar on their emerging plan with a program for acquisition and how it will be paid for. The local support organization Coalition For Sonoran Desert Protection representative gave details on how their group lends constant support for The Plan.

VVLP has co-sponsored the following public forums on similar interests:

  • Prescott National Forest Landscape Vision Workshop. It's purpose is to gain understanding of community values so that Prescott National Forest staff and Verde Valley citizens can work together to determine the direction of future Forest planning and find opportunities to contribute the achieving a community vision.

  • National Park Service presentation of the Tavasi Marsh Restoration Management Plan

  • The East Mingus Land Exchange Task Force was facilitated by VVLP in exploring possible land exchanges between the Prescott National Forest and owners of visible land on Mingus Mountain. This was to protect the local viewsheds. This task force represented all jurisdictions and unincorporated areas of the Verde Valley, deliberated for six months, and ended in six recommendations. No exchanges have resulted.

Click here for Tom O'Halleran show interview
with VVLP's Bob Rothrock




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Verde Valley Land Preservation
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