On Tuesday, January 15, in the in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona gathered friends for dinner to unveil the “Restoring Arizona’s Forests” exhibit in their new gallery space located at 7056 East Main Street.
Main Street was closed to create an enchanted forest for the festivities. A farm table to seat 125 guests was the center piece and all around it, décor by White House which included branch chandeliers and pine boughs. Additionally, Conservancy staff cut small diameter trees into pieces, also known as “cookies,” to hand out as gifts.
“We wanted to create a memorable experience like the kind we have when we’re in nature,” says Jacquie Dorrance, a supporter of the Conservancy’s forest program. “The cold temperature, mountain casual attire guests wore and the smell of pine added to the feeling we were in Arizona’s ponderosa pine forest. It truly was enchanting.”
Arcadia Farms worked with local growers to prepare a meal of butternut squash soup, roasted beet salad, Anson Mills polenta, Double Check Ranch slow roasted short ribs and Duncan Farms roasted organic root vegetables. Drinks included Pillsbury wines and Four Peaks beer, all Arizona produced.
After the packed tent feasted on fresh foods, The Conservancy surprised everyone with news about the gallery, opening the doors for the first time.
“With the closest ponderosa pine forest two hours away, we’re hopeful this exhibit will raise awareness about the poor condition of Arizona’s forests and the Conservancy’s new model for restoring forest health,” says Patrick Graham, the Conservancy in Arizona’s state director. “The new model works with private companies to thin trees to make wood products. We’re also working with partners to train a skilled workforce and develop an innovative approach to use technology to greatly accelerate the rate of thinning. If we don’t do something our water supplies and rural communities will be at risk and we will continue to lose important wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.”
The gallery includes forest-related art by recognizable artists Ed Mell, Mitch Fry, Hayley Smith, Todd Hoyer Roger Asay, Rebecca Davis and Christopher Brown. Additionally, there are dividing walls made from oriented strand board (OSB) which is made from small diameter trees such as those being thinned as part of the new model. Inside the exhibit you will also learn about the importance of Arizona forests to the Phoenix watershed.
Conservancy supporters Joanne and Jerry Kendrick attended the grand opening. Jerry was impressed by the effects thinning trees has on slowing down wildfires. Joanne is excited about what’s ahead: “It’s a great idea to develop technology to thin the forest in a faster and more efficient way.”
The dinner on Main Street and the opening of the new exhibit mark the beginning of the “Restoring Arizona’s Forest” fundraising campaign. The goal is to raise three million dollars to improve the health of our forests to help protect communities, water and wildlife.
The gallery will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. through May 31, 2013.
To learn more about The Nature Conservancy, visit nature.org/Arizona.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
Tracey Kiest Stone
The Nature Conservancy in Arizona