The Verde river near Camp Verde, Arizona.
Verde River The Verde river near Camp Verde, Arizona. © Stephen Probert

Newsroom

New Verde River Funding Supports Work That Benefits People and Nature

Phoenix, AZ

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust has donated nearly $600,000 to The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and Friends of the Verde River. The money supports four Verde River projects designed to keep more water in the river to benefit people and nature. The projects include crop conversion, a voluntary offset program, ways to protect drinking water and an illustration of how conservation actions impact the river.

This news is especially important in light of ongoing concerns about drought and water scarcity in our state. The Verde River supplies drinking water to more than 3 million people in the Phoenix metropolitan area – serving as a critical water supply for 10 Valley cities. The Verde River is also our state’s only wild and scenic designated river, federal recognition of rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational value.

“The Nature Conservancy and our many partners are committed to saving the Verde and Salt rivers which are the lifeline of central Arizona,” says Pat Graham, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “Working with farmers, local communities, citizen groups, the Yavapai-Apache Nation and local businesses, we are implementing projects that can create a positive impact and work with nature to sustain the communities and rivers. Helping farmers deliver water more efficiently and transition to crops that use less water benefits all.”

The funded projects will help directly improve flows, further solutions for changing communities, increase collaboration to reduce water rights risks, and support innovations that improve water quality. 

We’re thrilled to partner on these projects, which are designed to protect and restore the Verde River while driving important conversations around water conservation.

Chair, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

The Verde River Exchange is an example of locally developed solutions to water needs in changing communities. Friends of the Verde River, Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy work with historic water users to reduce their water use to develop offset credit. Local businesses that use groundwater purchase the credit to reduce the company’s water footprint. Page Springs Vineyards, Merkin Cellars and Out of Africa have participated in the program.  

Another way to directly increase flows and reduce water use is to identify crops that use less surface water. Changing from alfalfa to a small grain such as rye or barley can reduce water use by as much as 50 percent on targeted lands. Over the next year, farmers, including Yavapai Apache Nation, will work with the Conservancy and consultants to develop the support needed to shift to cultivation of small grains. This is a critical step in developing water management solutions that value agriculture, rural communities and flowing rivers. 

The Pulliam funding will also support a project designed to lessen sediment in our drinking water supply. Also, groundwater research will illustrate how different conservation actions will impact the Verde.

This collective impact is only possible when the whole community engages.

Kevin Hauser irrigates his grain and vegetable crops with water from Arizona's Verde River.
Kevin Hauser Kevin Hauser irrigates his grain and vegetable crops with water from Arizona's Verde River. © National Geographic.

The vision to invest in a range of strategic projects by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust demonstrates their long-term commitment to ensure future generations of Arizonans access to high quality river recreation, clean and resilient water supplies, and excellent habitat for fish and wildlife. 

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, based in Phoenix and Indianapolis, has been helping people in need, protecting animals and nature and enriching community life since its inception in 1997.

“We’re thrilled to partner on these projects, which are designed to protect and restore the Verde River while driving important conversations around water conservation,” says Carol Peden Schilling, chair of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

This grant brings the total Pulliam has donated to the Verde River to approximately $5 million.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.