For Immediate Release, March 22, 2007
Contact: Michelle Harrington, Center for Biological Diversity, (602) 628-9909
Center for Biological Diversity Receives Grant to Save the Verde River
PHOENIX, Ariz— The Center for Biological Diversity received $80,000 Wednesday from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. The funds of this one-year grant will be used to support the Center’s Save the Verde campaign to protect the water sources of the Verde River, and the wildlife that depends on it, from development and groundwater pumping.
“We are truly honored to have received this grant to expand our outreach and education on behalf of the Verde,” said Michelle Harrington, rivers program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The gift allows us to maintain an office and staff in Prescott and will bring even more visibility to the campaign. Ultimately it will be the voices of citizens, asking our leadership to be accountable to us, that will do the most to protect the river, wildlife and quality of life of people in the region.”
The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust awarded $2,605,000 to 26 Arizona nonprofit organizations Wednesday.
“Since the Trust began its grant-making in 1998, it has awarded more than $64 million to 309 Arizona nonprofit organizations. The Trust has continued to further the causes Nina Pulliam supported during her life. As trustees, we are pleased to continue her legacy of helping people in need, protecting animals and nature, and enriching community life,” said Frank E. Russell, Pulliam trustee chairman.
The Center initially launched its Verde campaign last August, ramping up efforts to focus attention on Prescott and Prescott Valley’s proposed water pipeline from the Big Chino Ranch northwest of Paulden. Scientists and citizens fear the groundwater pumping associated with the pipeline will dewater the Verde River. Because of the potential adverse impacts to wildlife listed under the Endangered Species Act, the Center believes moving forward with the pipeline will put the cities in violation of the law. The bald eagle, a small, migratory bird called the southwestern willow flycatcher, and native fish like the razorback sucker and spikedace are Verde-dependent species currently protected under the Act.
The Center wants Prescott and Prescott Valley to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. This type of formal plan, which includes mitigation to protect the flows of the Verde, would put the cities in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and allow them to move forward with the pipeline.
A SavetheVerde.org Web site offers information about the pipeline project and ways citizens can get involved. Letters to decision-makers can be sent from the site, and a sample letter and links are provided to make it easier for people to write letters to local newspaper editors. The site also has links to several scientific reports.
“We really wanted to make it easy for people without a lot of extra time to be able to get their concerns heard,” Harrington said. “The letters have added up since the project was launched. Over 6,500 letters in total have been sent to leaders and decision-makers so far, and we hope to increase that number to 10,000 in the coming months.”
Through its “Little Drop of Water” project, the Center has also created a way for people to get their concerns seen. About 700 decorated “droplets” have been gathered and will be on display at a Prescott Earth Day event on April 21 at Granite Creek Park. Blank droplets can be downloaded from SavetheVerde.org and are available at Coffee Roasters in downtown Prescott or by contacting the Center. People are encouraged to get their decorated droplets back to the Center by April 14. The project will be ongoing, and the droplets will be on display at other venues in the Verde watershed communities.
“The droplets have been a really fun way to deal with a serious subject and bring awareness to audiences of various ages,” said Harrington. “We like to say, ‘It takes a lot of little drops of water to make a river. It takes you to save the Verde River.’ ”
The Save the Verde campaign will be expanding its focus to deal with the pressures the rapid growth of new housing developments and groundwater pumping will have on the river. Hundreds of thousands of acres could be developed in the Big Chino sub-basin alone.
“The Verde River is such an incredibly important resource for the people and the wildlife that depend on it. We’d really like to see this river continue to flow year-round for many generations to come. The generous grant by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust is really a gift to Arizona,” said Harrington.
You can visit www.savetheverde.org to learn more about the Center’s campaign to save the Verde.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, science-based nonprofit organization that works to protect endangered species and wild places. The Center has more than 35,000 members and ten offices throughout the United States, including Prescott, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. www.biologicaldiversity.org