Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney

Arizona State Forester and the Executive Committee Treasurer of the Council of Western State Foresters Jeff Whitney, will be visiting the Gila Valley on April 12th to discuss with the public the most important conservation issues we face in the 21st century: water resource management and wildfire potential. Water is our most important commodity, and as such, it requires careful management throughout the watershed, and Mr. Whitney is keen to hear from residents of the Gila Valley regarding their concerns for water resource management and the role forests and fire play in conserving this precious commodity.

The diversity of Arizona forests range from riparian gallery forests in the low elevation deserts to sub-alpine and montane forests above 9000 feet in elevation. Forests cover approximately 27% of Arizona and are managed primarily by Federal, Tribal, and State entities. Arizona has 7 categories of critical forest resource issues: People and Forests, Ecosystem Health, Water and Air, Fire, Economics, Climate Change, and Culture. It is important to engage stakeholders when addressing these forest resource issues so that collaborative goals can be cultivated and achieved.

Mr. Whitney possesses more than 40 years of professional experience in forestry and fire prevention. With a notable background and expertise as a National Type 1 Incident Commander his experience is put to good use improving the health of our forests and the safety of our communities as our State Forester. Mr. Whitney has also served as a deputy forest supervisor in San Bernadino, California; natural resources group leader with the Tonto National Forest; desert fishes/listing and recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Phoenix field office; regional fire management coordinator and southwest strategy coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and more, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Gila Valley for our monthly meeting to help us better address watershed health issues in the Upper Gila.

Cross Watershed Network Workshop

Photos courtesy of Tahnee Robertson from Southwest Decision Resources
On March 21-22, we hosted the 4th annual Cross Watershed Network Workshop at Eastern Arizona College and at Discovery Park. We were lucky to have 10 sponsors and 72 people from across Arizona and the rest of the southwest come to attend our workshop. We were able to partner with the Cross Watershed Network and Southwest Decision Resources to plan and facilitate the event to spur lively discussions on topics ranging from monitoring, to effective watershed collaboration, to invasive species treatment methods, and much more. It was a great opportunity to bring folks together to share our lessons learned and to learn from their experience. We also had a very productive field day at the Gila Native Plant Nursery, and also at one of our restoration sites, where attendees were put to work helping us plant hundreds of native plants on the Gila River.

Meet Our New Staff Members

Dan Bove - Restoration Specialist
Dan is originally from Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelors of Science from Penn State University. During his time there he accepted two internships focused on Human-Black Bear Management in California. After undergraduate he completed his Masters focused on Tick Borne Diseases in Black Bears in New Jersey. Before working for GWP he was working for Florida Fish and Wildlife where he was a Biologist responsible for restoring habitat for threatened and endangered species using chemical, mechanical, and prescribed fire treatments.

Clara Gauna - Operations Coordinator
Clara is originally from Pima, Arizona. She received her Associates degree in Pre-Medical from Eastern Arizona College and her Bachelors of Science degree in Veterinary Science from The University of Arizona. After college she received a job with the Bureau of Land Management in Safford, Arizona as a Biological Intern. She has spent the last 2.5 years working on native fish monitoring, non-native species removal, and habitat restoration.

Alex Hreha - Ecological Field Technician
Alex is originally from Sedona, Arizona. He attended Yavapai Community College before starting a career with the conservation corps agencies. He has worked with the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps, American Conservation Experience, and Arizona Conservation Corps over the last 7 years. He's worked on erosion control projects, re-vegetation efforts, invasive species removal initiatives, archaeological preservation projects, and non-native fish monitoring collaborations with the BLM.

Program Updates

Pollinator Garden
We have recently contracted with Curtis Landscaping to install irrigation lines from the water harvesting tanks we installed at Discovery Park to run downhill to feed into the basins that will support three pollinator gardens: a butterfly garden, a hummingbird garden, and a xeric garden. Volunteers have been working to finish the passive rainwater harvesting basins at Discovery Park so that we can start planting this summer and fall once the irrigation structures are completed.

Water Quality
We continue to monitor for E. coli along the San Francisco River, and the restrooms we installed last year are proving to be useful to recreationists along the river. We are starting a new project partnering with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and Borderlands Restoration to install several hundred rock structures in drainages along the San Francisco and Blue Rivers in Greenlee County. These will limit sedimentation in those rivers, which should also help reduce E. coli loads. Once these rock structures are installed, we'll be planting native grasses and wildflowers behind them to help hold soil in place and provide habitat for pollinator species.

Youth Engagement
We hired two local community members for our Arizona Conservation Corps crew that has been working on the Gila River Restoration project. Their last day with us will be April 15th, and we thank them for their service to their community, and hope to be able to employ more local youth through this program in the future.
April 22nd is Day of Champions at Discovery Park where EAC students will volunteering to help install native plants throughout the campus.
April 27th is Earth Day and we will be partnering with Eastern Arizona College to host an event at the Gila Native Plant Nursery at Discovery Park.

Riparian Restoration
Tamarisk removal efforts along the Gila will cease on April 15th in order to accommodate threatened and endangered migratory birds returning to the Gila River for their breeding season. We recently hosted the Annual Cross Watershed Network Workshop on March 21-22, where we had over 30 volunteers come out to learn how to use various different planting techniques to restore native habitats in riparian areas. The event was a great success, and GWP is building a strong reputation for implementing ecological restoration projects in the southwest! To date, we have removed tamarisk from 120 acres along the Gila, and have re-planted 60 of those acres with plants grown at our Gila Native Plant Nursery.

Gila Native Plant Nursery
The Gila Native Plant Nursery is bustling with activity lately. We've been lucky to host work-study students from Eastern Arizona College and local volunteers from the Young Church-Service Missionary program that have been helping us get thousands of new plants started at the greenhouse. We're ramping up for lots of out-planting this summer, and working to provide plant materials for orders from lots of different local partners. Please don't hesitate to come visit us and check out what's going on at our very busy nursery!

We are hiring a new Executive Director!!!

The Gila Watershed Partnership is currently accepting applications for a new Executive Director. The Executive Director reports to the GWP Board of Directors, and is responsible for assisting and implementing the organization’s strategic plan. It is the intent of GWP that this will be a long-term position. 

For more information please visit

Arizona Gives Day 2017

Arizona Gives Day 2017 was held April 4th as a 24 hour fundraising campaign to raise money for non-profits. The Gila Watershed received a tremendous amount of support from many generous donors. We would like to thank all that gave donations this year. Your continued support goes a long way providing much needed aid for our programs and our organization.

Watershed Events

  • April 12th - GWP Monthly Meeting - Jeff Whitney - AZ Department of Forestry and Fuels Management, Graham County General Services 7-9 PM.
  • April 20th - Tamarisk Coalition Riparian Restoration and Tamarisk Beetle Workshop, Avondale, AZ.
  • April 22nd - Day of Champions - EAC students spend the day planting at Discovery Park.
  • April 22nd - Graham County Make A Difference Day: Recycle Electronic Waste 8:00AM-2:00PM, Safford Landfill
  • April 27th - Earth Day - Youth spend time making seed balls at the Gila Native Plant Nursery.
  • May 10th - GWP Monthly Meeting
  • May 10-11th - The Verde River State of the Watershed Conference, Clarkdale, AZ.


You can help us continue the important work we do in Graham & Greenlee Counties in 2017; all it takes is a small donation.


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M


AZ Dept. of Agriculture  
AZ Dept. of Environmental Quality
AZ Dept. of Transportation 
AZ Game and Fish Department 
AZ State Land Department 
City of Safford 
Eastern Arizona College
Farm Bureau
Freeport-McMoRan Inc. 
Gila Valley Irrigation District 
Gila Valley NRCD 
Graham County 
Graham County Chamber of Commerce
Greenlee County
Greenlee County Cattle Growers
Natural Resource Conservation Service
Southwest Decision Resources
Tamarisk Coalition
Town of Clifton
Town of Duncan
Town of Pima
Town of Thatcher
United Way of Graham County
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service –
Apache-Sitgreaves & Coronado
U of A Cooperative Extension
U of A Water Resource Research Center
Walton Family Foundation
And many Community Members
Copyright © 2017 Gila Watershed Partnership, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 1614
Thatcher, AZ 85552

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Gila Watershed Partnership of Arizona · P. O. Box 1614 · Thatcher, AZ 85552 · USA

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