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Verde Valley Land Preservation news August 2015


Cliffrose Trail

The Cliffrose Trailhead, off of Mingus Avenue in Cottonwood, connects to a popular loop trail with superb long views. Coconino National Forest ranger Francesca Adrian, Bob Rothrock, VVLP president and Bob Richards, Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition walked this trail to assess the feasibility of adding another existing social trail to the forest system. This trail would connect the Cliffrose Trail to the Bill Ensign Trail and from there users could access the Dead Horse Ranch State Park trail system. Ranger Adrian believes there is merit in this idea and Supervisor Chip Davis has added his support. We will continue to assist the Forest whenever we can to complete the steps necessary for this trail to be built.

Educational Opportunity

The Metempyrion Foundation has made a significant donation to VVLP that they would like us to use for community education. Their website states, "Metempyrion educates about human and environmental conditions that exist in the world at large to stimulate supportive participation in good works."

Verde Valley Forum

The Verde Valley Forum is back! Sedona and Verde Valley Forums have allowed community leaders from all over the V.V. to address regional issues. These forums have led to implemented solutions in a number of important areas. In fact, the 2002 Forum on regional open space planning led to the creation of Verde Valley Land Preservation. For more info, including information on 2016's forum, go to vvforum.org

Collaboration with American Rivers

At our July board meeting, board members heard a presentation from American Rivers about a partnership opportunity to begin creating a regional land use management program that connects land use decision making with water management decision making. This joint program between the two organizations would focus on developing best practices and demonstration projects for sustainable land use that reduces the impact of development's footprint on our groundwater and surface water resources that sustain the Verde River.

The core activities of the program would involve integrating land use planning and water management in the Verde Valley, outreach to state and federal land management agencies, advocacy for open space and ecologically sensitive lands that support the Verde watershed, community engagement, and - down the road - potentially, land and water transactions to advance the vision of VVLP and American Rivers.

The board voted to support exploring this partnership further, and to work with American Rivers on developing the program and potential funding sources.


Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument

Also at our July meeting the board agreed to support the concept of this far reaching proposal. Our mission - to preserve and enhance open space - could certainly be furthered by national monument designation. For example, monument status prohibits land trades within its area. The devil will be in the details. Board member Steve Estes has agreed to serve on the executive committee drafting the proposal. Hopefully, they'll find a way to give the devil his due while allowing the preservation of our land's unique and precious resources.



What We've Been Up To In 2014 


Our work to preserve and enhance open space has resulted in an open space forum, the development of the Cliffrose Trailhead, the preservation of a 35 acre riparian habitat, and inclusion of important preservation language in three Verde Valley municpalities' General Plans. Work in those General Plans has resulted in the inclusion of strong water conservation language.

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.

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 (www.rglennon.com) 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.

One program, One for the Verde , will continue in anticipation of some continued grant support, with a part-time representative. This program involves private businesses in collecting (in most cases) opt-out donations from customers that accrue to a fund that support public-private projects that improve river and stream habitat, access, recreation sites, and natural interpretation. Over 30 businesses are involved and one project has already been funded.

Verde Valley Land Preservation will continue to act on opportunities to preserve and enhance our precious open spaces. Thank you for your interest.



"One for the Verde"

Our new program, One for the Verde, has launched!
One for the Verde is 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.

Our 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 Verde River Eco-Destination
Enhance the Verde Valley economy
Protect our open spaces and viewsheds

www.onefortheverde.org

(Visit our supporting businesses)

How It Works
Funds for our projects are provided solely by the participating businesses collecting voluntary donations from their customers during normal transactions. Any projects seeking funding must complete a formal application and review by the Board of Participating Businesses.

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




A Verde River Artist Challenge 

Verde Valley Land Preservation challenges 
visual artists to create an emotional connection between the public and the Verde River. 

The Verde River is one of Arizona’s last free-flowing, designated ‘Wild & Scenic’ rivers.
It provides sustainable habitat for a large, unique, and biologically diverse wildlife population. The purpose for this exhibition is to increase awareness and raise funds for research and
education projects designed to promote the sustainability of the Verde River Corridor.



WALTON FAMILY FOUNDATION RENEWS GRANT

Verde Valley Land Preservation continues the ambitious project of restoring a healthy Verde River and its tributaries among other new initiatives to strengthen a healthy environment for the Verde Valley. There are five projects projected to support the goals of the Freshwater Initiative Strategy financially supported by The Walton Family Foundation. Steve Estes will continue in his successful role as our Community Outreach Director.

I. Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) is a collaboration of multiple federal and state agencies with over 40 stakeholders that represent the entire watershed. They participate in the ongoing strategy with VVLP and the Verde River Greenway to implement the Cooperative Invasive Plant Management Plan to develop partnerships with private land owners adjacent to the river to improve the riverside habitat. Laura Jones has been hired to pick up the majority of this work going forward with a grant-driven outcome of 100 landowners participating by August, 2013. One of the current projects is a 35 acre, 1.25 mile stretch of the Verde to be cleaned, restored, and protected against motorized vehicle effects.

II. Riparian Open Space Preservation continues VVLP's ongoing efforts to preserve quality riparian habitat through various conservation agreements with landowners in the Verde Watershed.

II. "A River Runs Thru Us" - A Verde River Artist Challenge.

1. Float the Verde River.
2. Capture the Essence.
3. Communicate the Experience.

Verde Valley Land Preservation (VVLP) challenges visual artists to create an emotional connection between the public and the Verde River. We invite interested visual artists to submit portfolios for review in order to participate in a river experience designed to stimulate creativity and expression. Selected applicants will participate in a three day river trip on the Verde. Participating artists will then submit one or more works inspired by this environment, of which one will be selected for permanent donation to VVLP to further our efforts to preserve the Verde. The collection will create a traveling exhibition, "A River Runs Thru Us", which will travel through communities in the Verde watershed. Selected artists will also receive a $200 stipend for the creation of their art and promotion through a variety of media. Deadline to submit application has passed. Selected artists will be notified on February 20th 2013.

IV. Community Planning proposes to assist local communities with community plan revisions as they are currently required every ten years by Arizona State law. VVLP will work in collaboration with Western Resources Advocates on the local communities of Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Jerome and Sedona's Community General Plans.

VVLP is excited about the progress that is possible to strengthen our precious Verde River that is our lifeline, our living, breathing heart and gives us so much recreation and visual pleasure. This work would not be possible except for the generosity of the Walton Family Foundation

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March 2012


Community Outreach Director Reports

One And A Half Years Work

Steve Estes, VVLP's Outreach Director has accomplished many goals required in the Walton Family Foundation Grant since beginning the task in November of 2010. Chief among them are the contacts with landowners along the Verde Verde River and its tributaries to encourage preservation of open space and removal of noxious plant species growing long the riverside. Five landowners have begun preservation work. This process is a long term education and change does not occur without repeated opportunities.

Also among the goals is river habitat improvement with mapping and eventual removal on invasive plant species such as the Giant Reed (Arundo Donax). An event near Windmill Park in Cornville demonstrated the removal of Arundo Donax for the benefit of landowners participating. The results can be seen from the bridge there over Oak Creek. Seven and a half miles of river habitat has been completed with ongoing efforts there. The next project Involves over 200 private property owners along the main stream of the Verde from the Bridgeport Bridge through Camp Verde.

Two sustainable recreation projects in the Prescott National Forest are progressing. The first, a boater-floater River guide from Bridgeport to Beasley Flats is nearly completed. This guide will compliment two others: one between Tuzigoot and the Bridgeport Bridge and the other from Beasley Flats to sheep Bridge. These guides will then cover 38 miles of the Verde River Greenway. The second recreation project works with the Yavapai County Sustainable Recreation Planning effort (known as the Verde Front planning), in addressing the river and riparian Recreation along the Verde River within the Verde Valley.

Further, the Verde Valley Overlay Model, a powerful planning tool to incorporate open space, has been transferred to a DVD and Steve Estes has targeted 22 land use planning entities for presentation and delivery of the DVD and its tutorial package so its use will keep open space preservation in the forefront of planning decisions

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August 2011

Community Outreach Project Exceeds Goals

The Community Outreach Project, a joint undertaking of Verde Valley Land Preservation and the Friends of the Verde River Greenway, has filed its first major report with its funding entity, The Walton Family Foundation. Project director, Steve Estes, submitted the report detailing achievements related to the various expected outcomes (also called "deliverables").

The intent of this project is to engage private land managers in conservation conversations that will result in activities on some properties that either improve riverside habitat, or enhance the existence of open space in the Verde Valley - or both. In order to achieve these ends, Estes has devised a strategy that uses input from marketing and environmental consultants.

The project envisions open space and habitat improvement activities on private lands that enhance and build upon like actions occurring on public lands. Estes, therefore, engages public and private land managers to seek both separate and collaborative solutions to issues of healthy river systems and open space preservation. Estes has reported notable progress toward achieving the expected deliverables. The following are those results. Deliverables are underlined:

  • Landowner survey response rate of 10-30% - With respect to open space outreach, our sample size was small, but resulted in a 100% response rate. As for riverside habitat improvement, our sample was larger, yielding a response rate of 87%. The marketing consultatnt suggested a smaller, focused, intimate approach. Among other benefits shown in the outcomes below, this method yielded a much higher response rate than the expected outcome.


  • Two land owners begin work on preserving open space - Open space enhancement activities on private lands often involve the use of what are termed "conservation easements". Such easements place limits on development activities that can ensure open space preservation. Benefits to the land owners include the likelihood of significant federal tax relief, assurance their property is forever used in accordance with their wishes, and that they have provided a key amenity to the quality of life in their region.


  • Of the original landowners initially queried, two remain in communication with regard to taking action on their properties that would enhance open space. Additionally, one of those property owners has agreed to engage 9 owners of 12 neighboring properties in conversations regarding a multiple-property open space initiative.

  • Demonstration projects totaling 3 miles of river habitat improvement - Participating land owners have agreed to allow us access to their river areas totaling 7.16 miles of riverside habitat in the first phases of improvement. Initial activities will include surveying and mapping stretches of river on these properties with an eye to locating invasive species of plant life that are damaging to river health. Then, we look to communicate these findings with land owners, and to discuss the extent they might participate in habitat improvement activities on their properties. For those with challenges in affordability, funding is being sought to ensure habitat improvement activities occur where needed and allowed by the land owners.


  • Prescott National Forest selected two priority recreation projects, with initial planning in place - Two priority sustainable recreation projects have been secured with initial planning in place:


  • 1. The creation of a boater-floater river guide which will enhance sustainable recreation and conservation education . This project will document, design, and publish a Verde River Recreation Guide in print and in online versions. There presently exist two river guides. One between the Tuzigoot and Bridgeport bridges, and another between Beasley Flats at camp Verde and Sheep Bridge. The addition of this guide will connect the these otherwise disjointed stretches. The result is a system of river guides that covers the vast majority of the 36-mile Verde River Greenway, as well as the same for a good distance downstream.

    2. The Yavapai County Sustainable Recreation Planning effort (referred to as the Verde Front) has identified Friends of Verde River Greenway as a convener to lead a strategy action team to address river and riparian recreation along the Verde River in the Verde Valley that looks to improve access and amenities for river related recreation.

    The project now moves forward on achieving its second year's deliverables which include a minimum of 5 miles of riverside habitat improvement, 4 land owners taking action on their properties to enhance open space, progress toward or completion of the two sustainable recreation projects, and demonstrated progress in supporting policy initiatives that ensure open space in local and regional land us planning.

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    From Land Trust Alliance:
    http://www.landtrustalliance.org/events-news/alliance-news/majority-in-house-backs-new-land-conservation-bill

    Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Mike Thompson 
    Champion Bipartisan Measure

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  -May 24,2011- Today, Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), with a remarkable 251 original co-sponsors, introduced the Conservation Easement Incentive Act.  This bill is critical for the protection of millions of acres of the nation’s agricultural lands and natural areas that support the economies, health and cultural fabric of communities throughout the U.S.  It makes permanent an incentive due to expire at the end of this year that allows modest-income landowners to receive significant tax deductions for donating conservation easements that permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their lands.



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    Please support the efforts of VVLP to preserve the open space we still have:

    Click here for print-and-mail membership form

    VVLP is a 501-c-3 corporation and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law




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