Valley Forward Association recognized the Maricopa County Master Watershed Stewards Program with its top honor September 29 at its annual Environmental Excellence awards.
The awards recognize environmental building and programs across a wide swath of categories, seeking to bring attention to various efforts to promote sustainable development across the region.
It is the 32nd year of the awards, and 11th consecutive year they have been held in partnership with Salt River Project.
The watershed program, which offers mentors showing the importance of the region's water system, was given the President's Award as the top project. It also won the Environmental Stewardship award sponsored by SRP.
The program works over 10 weeks of classroom and field training to educate participants about local watersheds. Developed through the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the program's 's local collaborators with UA Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County include the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Audubon Arizona, Central Arizona Project and Epcor Water.
That kind of collaboration was present in many of the entries this year, said Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward.
"Sustainability is clearly at the forefront in our community, and it's inspiring to preview such innovative programs directed at preserving natural resources – air, water, open space and our unique desert environment," she said.
Awards at the Valley Forward event are known as Crescordias. They were given out to 17 winners with 29 awards of merit in the different categories.
Read more from the September 30 issue of the Phoenix Business Journal athttp://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2012/09/30/maricopa-county-watershed-program-wins.html
Also see the Arizona Republic's October 3 opinion piece "Sustainable living is on the rise in the West Valley" at http://www.azcentral.com/community/Blog/WestValleyEditorials/172619
Valley Forward Association's detailed press release is athttp://www.valleyforward.org/pdf/9.30.12_EEA_Winners_Release_2012.pdf
Valley Forward is a non-profit public interest organization that brings business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities. The organization operates with the belief that businesses must take a leadership role in solving the complex and sometimes controversial problems that confront growing population centers.
Maricopa County Master Watershed Program
The 10-week MWS course combines classroom education and field training to educate participants about local watersheds and water related issues. The curriculum is based on the Arizona Watershed Stewardship Guide, which was developed by the University of Arizona. Graduates must document 40 hours of related volunteer activities to become full-fledged Master Watershed Stewards (Stewards). Volunteers in Maricopa County have contributed over 1800 hours of service, valued at approximately $72,750, on projects including education, restoration, and monitoring. The Maricopa County program now focuses its efforts at the Rio Salado Habit Restoration Area and is implemented through funding and collaboration from local organizations.