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Hi, welcome to the Arizona Master Watershed Steward website!

"I started out thinking of America as highways and state lines. As I got to know it better, I began to think of it as rivers."
-Charles Kuralt, On the Road with Charles Kuralt, 1967

First, what is a watershed?

We all live in a watershed, also known as a drainage basin or catchment. Each watershed is defined by an area of land that drains water downhill into a common water body. Watersheds can be visualized by looking at photos and topographic maps and are characterized by ecologic, geologic, hydrologic and meterologic variables.

Similar to how states in the U.S. are divided into sub-units known as counties, watersheds are divided into sub-units called subwatersheds. These large drainage basins and their subwatersheds are defined by natural topographic boundaries, or ridge lines, that separate two watersheds.

So, why watersheds?

All inhabitants of a watershed, both human and non-human, share the same natural resources, including water. Because water molecules are a dynamic substance that exist in three different states and have the ability to move great distances, water connects everyone and everything within a watershed. How we use our land and water resources can influence the quality and quantity of water available.

Although there are many subwatersheds within our state, all Arizonians and our water uses are connected, as we are part of the larger Colorado River Basin that extends from Wyoming south to Mexico. The health of our watersheds is especially impacted as our growing population, and thus our demand for natural resources, increases. Learning to look past political boundaries and view our land as divided by natural boundaries helps us better manage our resources as a complete, more sustainable system.

Why become a Master Watershed Steward?

As a Master Watershed Steward (MWS) you can help to improve the health of your watershed. Our informative, research-based training will give you the knowledge to make better, more informed decisions related to your own land, community and watershed. Many of these practices can help improve the health of the watershed, while also helping you and your community save money and reduce waste.

You will become a resource for your family, friends, neighbors and greater community. In addition, you will have the opportunity to work with Stewards to monitor, maintain and restore your watershed through ongoing projects with local groups, agencies and University of Arizona researchers. Being a Master Watershed Steward is fun, interesting and rewarding!

Who is a Master Watershed Steward?

Master Watershed Stewards are highly trained volunteers working closely with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Stewards may come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have a passion for our environment! To become certified, Master Watershed Stewards participate in over 40 hours of course and field work to learn the basics of watershed science. Upon completion of the class component participants are Associate Watershed Stewards. To earn Master Watershed Steward status volunteers contribute 40 hours of service to their local community through various projects.

Where do Stewards help?

We work with community organizations including watershed partnerships and various state agencies to implement projects throughout Arizona to monitor, maintain and restore the health of our watersheds. Ongoing volunteer projects include: photopoint monitoring in the Tonto National Forest and Saguaro National Park, riparian assessments along urban and preserved corridors, outreach at Arizona Project WET Water Festivals, free private well testing and collaboration with NEMO to develop Watershed Based Plans. Please visit our Classes page to learn about watershed issues and projects in your area!

When can I start?

New classes often start in early spring and early fall. Please visit the Classes page to see when and where the next class is starting! Even if a class is not scheduled for your area, if enough people are interested, we may go ahead and start a class there. If there's an interest, it usually means there's a watershed issue that needs to be addressed!

How do I become a Master Watershed Steward?

If you'd like to learn more about our program, I invite you to explore our website. To see classes and projects in your local area, please visit the Classes page. You can check out our blog to see current opportunities or visit our Publications page to view our newsletter, RECHARGE, that is published seasonally and features watershed issues and spotlights how our awesome volunteers are working to solve these issues!

If you still have questions, contact us at:

Phil Guertin
Statewide Program Coordinator
Master Watershed Steward Program
School of Natural Resources and the Environment
1330 E South Campus Drive
Bio Sciences East / PO Box 210043
Tucson, AZ 85721-0043

Mt. Pennell, UT
Craig Adkins

This image is from Steve Reynolds, ASU
Steve Reynolds, ASU

This image is from Steve Reynolds, ASU
Steve Reynolds, ASU

This image is from Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program
Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program