OUR STORY

FORMING WILD ARIZONA

Wild Arizona is the newly launched merger of Arizona Wilderness Coalition with the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. We are blending two long-standing conservation organizations with strong roots in Arizona’s rich conservation history, the wilderness movement, the Colorado River community, deep ecology/rewilding, outdoor adventure, field-based ecological research, hands-on habitat restoration, and working for and with Indigenous partners.

OUR HISTORY

WILDERNESS, WILD RIVERS, & MONUMENTS

Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC) formed in 1979 as an all-volunteer organization instrumental in the passage of two landmark bills, establishing the 90 designated Wilderness Areas Arizona boasts today and leading the campaign that gained Wild & Scenic designation for Fossil Creek. Grand Canyon Wildlands Council (GCWC) was founded in 1996 to implement a conservation area network for the Grand Canyon Ecoregion. GCWC conducted assessments that were the basis of the Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments near Grand Canyon. Together, we are able to expand our resources, broaden our constituency and geographical focus, and redefine our narrative.

OUR MISSION

PROTECT, LINK & RESTORE

Wild Arizona’s mission is to protect, unite, and restore wild lands and waters across Arizona and beyond, for the enrichment and health of all generations, and to ensure Arizona's native plants and animals a lasting home in wild nature. We organize and amplify multi-community voices of support for legislation and special designations; advocate for conservation science-based environmental policy and planning; and cultivate stewardship, social/environmental awareness, and well-being through outdoor volunteerism, science, and education.

OUR APPROACH

REWILDING CONSERVATION

Wild Arizona was born concurrently, but not coincidentally, with Arizona’s recent dramatic and long-awaited shift in political climate. This shift is critical to proactively move forward with preserving Southwest landscapes and sustaining natural and human communities; it also reflects an increased recognition of the interconnectedness of social and environmental justice—including a higher regard for the resilience that comes from biological and cultural diversity and equity, from sharing and hearing stories from the land. We are collectively learning that our state’s diverse inhabitants, human and wild, thrive when we save and heal our wild lands and waters.

CONSERVATION IS LOVE IN ACTION

By analyzing the interconnectedness of social justice and environmental issues through a critical lens, we aim to find solutions that best serve humans and nature in a reciprocal way. Throughout our work, we strive to unite people across culture circles with the common goal of protecting and restoring wild places—for the longevity and resiliency of species, for the enjoyment and vibrant health of future generations, and for the love of wildness itself.

We find ourselves returning to this idea: Know it. Love it. Protect it.

CONNECTION IS KEY

Ask yourself, can you really love what you don’t know? Are you willing to protect what you love? We believe that you need to know—to experience, to make memories and learn about—something in order to love it. And that when a person loves something, they will take action to protect it. Therefore, we recognize how vital it is to connect people with wild places and one another. We do this through fostering meaningful relationships with partners and constituents, grassroots organizing, educational outreach, engaging in mentorship opportunities, empowering advocacy, and leading place-based volunteer excursions.

WILD CONNECTIONS

REGIONAL-SCALE WILDLIFE PATHWAYS

Wild Arizona’s programs have been re-envisioned within a new strategy we call Wild Connections. These are regional-scale terrestrial and riparian wildlife corridors within which we seek protections such as Wilderness, Wildlife Conservation Areas, National Monuments, administrative wildlife corridor protections, and more.

WILDERNESS STEWARDSHIP

We cultivate stewardship through volunteerism & provide the public with opportunities to enjoy public lands while making a difference.

Our wilderness service outings are a highlight of our volunteer Wilderness Stewardship program. From restoring riparian areas to repairing wilderness trails & monitoring recreation impacts, thousands of volunteers have enjoyed our weekend field excursions to every corner of the state.
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ADMINISTRATIVE PROTECTIONS

We work to advocate for preservation of wilderness-worthy areas & to better protect sensitive natural resources on public lands.

We provide constituents with information and tools to take action and make your voice heard, where and when it counts, focusing especially on the big opportunities to change things on the ground when agencies update their influential, far-reaching management plans.
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LEGISLATION

For those outstanding trails, lands, and waters that deserve the certainty of permanent protection, we organize support for legislation and special designations.

Our Permanent Protections Program focuses on the Sky Islands, the Grand Canyon Bioregion, the Mogollon Wildway, and other regions where citizens and legislators have come together to advance proposals to conserve land and resources for the long term.
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Officers and Directors

Board President
Michael C. Quinlan, Ph.D., Tempe
Department of Physiology, Midwestern University

Vice President
Kurt Menke, Albuquerque, NM
Founder and GIS Specialist, Bird’s Eye View

Secretary
Brandon Arents, Phoenix
Associate, Squire Patton Boggs, LLP

Acting Treasurer
Kim Vacariu, Portal
Former Western Director, Wildlands Network
Media specialist, editor, and writer

CEO (Ex Officio)
Kelly Burke, Flagstaff
Executive Director, Wild Arizona

Past President
Don Hoffman, Alpine
Former wilderness program manager, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Past Executive Director, Arizona Wilderness Coalition

Past Vice-President
Doug Hulmes, Prescott
Professor of Environmental Studies, Prescott College

Kim Crumbo, Ogden, UT
Former Conservation Director, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council
Senior Carnivore Advocate, Wildlands Network

Bart Koehler, Juneau, AK
Independent campaign consultant
Former Senior Wilderness Campaigns Director of the Wilderness Support Center, The Wilderness Society

 

Advisors

Kate Mackay, Washington, D.C.
Director of Wildlands Communications, The Wilderness Society

Joe Trudeau, Prescott
Southwest Advocate, Center for Biological Diversity

Julie Polovitch, Flagstaff
Youth Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Trail Association

meet our crew people.

Brian Stultz

Deputy Director & Stewardship Director

Brian brings over 20 years of experience in leadership and project management to Wild Arizona and the Wilderness Stewardship Program. … Read More

Katrina Pappas

Business Manager

Katrina brings 26 years of experience in nonprofit administration, having served for a number of years as the general manager … Read More

Kelly Burke

Executive Director

Kelly joined the steering committee and then the board that helped guide the Arizona Wilderness Coalition not long after cofounding … Read More

Larry Stevens

Senior Ecologist

Larry Stevens was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1951, moved to Arizona in 1970, and attended Prescott College in Prescott, … Read More

James Holderer

Conservation Program Associate

James’ yearning to explore every nook of a landscape provides for the strong attention to detail he exercises in his … Read More

Jonathan Patt

Volunteer Coordinator

Jonathan has been an avid outdoor enthusiast all his life, and grew up hiking and exploring the Southwest with family … Read More

Phoebe Stevens

Media Associate

Phoebe is an Arizona native, who grew up exploring the Southwest through her parents’ ecological and artistic lenses. She graduated … Read More

Summer Doss

Media/Marketing Associate

Summer has always been drawn to the outdoors and fell in love with the Southwest when she first visited the … Read More

Matt Wilson

Conservation Crew Member

Matt Wilson was born and raised in the northeast in Hamden, CT and currently resides on the shores of the … Read More

Elinor Fisher

Conservation Crew Member

Elly has wandered the western half of the country since 2015.  After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree … Read More

Dexter Kopas

Conservation Crew Member

Originally from Seattle, Dexter found a love for field conservation work while studying geology and environmental studies at Wisconsin’s Beloit … Read More