The Nature Conservancy recently recognized Arizonans for their remarkable commitments to conservation. At a reception in Flagstaff, the Conservancy honored individuals and agencies for their work benefiting people and nature in Arizona.
“Now more than ever, Arizona needs strong leadership to ensure a sustainable future,” says Patrick Graham, the Conservancy’s Arizona state director. “We are proud to honor such leaders and to partner with them to tackle our state’s most pressing conservation challenges.”
U.S. Forest Service Region 3 received the Conservancy’s Outstanding Conservation Achievement in the Public Sector award. In particular, six national forests—the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto—were recognized for leading innovative approaches to restore the health of Arizona’s forests and grasslands. The Conservancy has worked with the U.S. Forest Service on many fronts. From tackling tough issues like fire through the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the largest forest restoration initiative in the nation, to protecting the 306-acre Shield Ranch, a critical property along the banks of the Verde River.
The Conservancy presented its award for Outstanding Conservation Achievement in the Private Sector to the White Mountain Monitoring Board. This group has taken the words “innovation” and “collaboration” to new heights, says Graham. The Conservancy partners with the board’s White Mountain Stewardship Project, which is improving forest health on 40,000 acres in the White Mountains, from forest lakes to alpine. In addition to its ecological benefits, the major undertaking has helped produce 300 jobs and a growing wood products industry based on the sustainable use of small-diameter trees. It is one of the largest economic development programs in the White Mountains.
Craig Weatherup, who along with his wife, Connie, is a long-standing supporter of the Conservancy in both New York and Arizona, received the Arizona Oakleaf Award. Weatherup worked for PepsiCo, Inc. for 24 years and served as CEO of its world-wide Pepsi-Cola business and president of PepsiCo, Inc. He’s been a member of the Conservancy’s Board of Trustees in Arizona since 2002, serving as co-chair for the Nature Matters fundraising campaign while contributing a lead gift to launch the effort. “We are extremely fortunate and grateful that Craig has dedicated his time and experience as we work to create a healthy environment and more sustainable economy. His leadership will benefit Arizonans for generations to come,” says Graham.
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.