2012 Annual Report - Crossroads
Crossroads are an exciting place to be. Not only do they offer the prospect of change, but they also represent the power of choice. Even if difficult, the decision is ours to make, the challenge ours to meet.
Join our select group of Hummingbird Circle members who have stepped up their giving to support the vital work of the Sonoran Institute.
Our staff’s time, knowledge, skills, funding and passion for the land are devoted to tackling challenges facing the West — rapid growth, the changing role of public lands and much more. The Sonoran Institute’s new strategic plan sharpens our focus on the goal of a West “both prosperous and healthy, with a civilization to match its scenery,” as Western writer Wallace Stegner envisioned. The Institute works to realize this vision that embraces civil dialogue and collaboration as hallmarks of decision making; people and wildlife living in harmony; assured clean water, air and energy; and healthy lands, resilient economies, and vibrant communities.
Big Vision, Bold Plans for the Changing West
Grizzlies. Saguaros. Iconic landscapes — think Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone. The West is a mythical land where many aspire to travel or live, whether in a modern city flanked by rugged wild lands or in a moun-tain town with world-class skiing or fishing a few minutes from work. Profound change is underway as more people move west. Nature’s gifts created over eons can be de-stroyed in a few years if we are not careful.
From railroads and dams to public lands, the West has been the home of big ideas. Now is the time for another – an ambitious vision for a West with healthy land, clean water, sustainable energy, resilient economies and vibrant communities where conservation supports prosperity and quality of life.
Realizing this vision in an inclusive and sustainable manner requires engaging diverse perspectives and interests to make collaborative decisions. Since 1990 the Sonoran Institute has carved out a unique niche, bringing together local officials, civic and business leaders, ranchers and other land owners, conservation groups, developers, public-land man-agers, and engaged citizens to successfully forge effective and enduring conservation solutions.
The Institute is dedicated to inspiring and enabling community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of the western North America. Our work is informed by and supports local conservation efforts.
We demonstrate how conservation and smart growth are key elements for quality of life and economic prosperity. We help communities agree on land use plans that preserve natural and cultural assets. We draw on a full range of land-use strategies, from outright protection to better managing growth to integrating conservation into development. We build and support statewide coalitions that work to give local jurisdictions resources to better guide development. Through innovative partnerships, we train local leaders and protect public and private lands across the West.
The Sonoran Institute’s new strategic plan...
...focuses on public lands, growth, water, energy and climate change – the core issues that define how the West is growing and changing. With the goal of a West with healthy lands, resilient economies, and vibrant communities where civil dialogue and collaboration are hallmarks of decision making, people and wildlife live in harmony, and clean water, air and energy are assured, the Sonoran Institute is restructuring, focusing and deepening its work in two principal ways:
|Legacy Projects: long-term, multi-faceted work in four regional landscapes, applying the full range of our expertise and conservation approaches. Learn more...||West-wide State & Federal Policy Reform: a more systematic focus on state and federal policy reform to support collaborative, community conservation. Learn more...|
Growth. Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Utah are the nation’s fastest-growing states; Phoenix and Las Vegas are the fastest-growing cities. Ranches and open space are giving way to subdivisions. Rapid growth strains energy and water sources. Many newcomers are attract-ed to rural communities, which then outgrow their small-town character. Single homes built on acreage consume land even faster than the rapid population growth rate.
Public Land. Nearly half of the West is public land. Current federal policies impede public land managers’ collaboration with private landowners, tribes and other organizations, although threats to public lands often arise outside their boundaries. Development on neighboring land hampers wildlife migration and fire management. Growing numbers of off-road vehicles damage rivers and meadows that understaffed, under-funded public land management agencies are unable to protect.
Laws & Policy. State and federal laws offer inadequate incentives and authority for communities to plan for and regulate growth. Resulting poorly planned development decreases property values, compromises wildlife and conservation values, and increases costs for infrastructure and other services.
Energy. Parts of the West are in the grip of an energy boom, temporarily benefiting from a spike in high-paying jobs. However, many counties and cities are not prepared for the devastating impacts of careless oil and gas development on their land, air and water, as well as on their social fabric.
Drought & Climate Change. In the arid West, impacts of a prolonged drought and global climate change are evident in reduced snowpack, earlier run-off, falling river levels, more intense wildfires, and the expanding range of noxious weeds.
Changing Economy. Scenery, recreation, open space and other natural amenities are the West’s new competitive advantage, attracting visitors, retirees and those who work in the knowledge economy.