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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

Officers and Directors

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

Vice President
Kurt Mënke, Denmark
Founder and GIS Specialist, Bird’s Eye View

Brandon Arents, Phoenix
Associate, Squire Patton Boggs, LLP

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

Winnie Liang, Phoenix
Adjunct faculty, TGEN

Alexis Finley, Costa Rica
Rock climbing guide and wood craftsman, Alexis Finley Mountain & Wood Craft

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

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

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

In Memoriam
Kim Crumbo, Ogden, UT
Founding Board Member


Kate Mackay, ID.
Director of Wildlands Communications, The Wilderness Society
Former Associate Director, Arizona Wilderness Coalition

Joel Barnes, Prescott
Riparia, LLC
Former board member, Arizona Wilderness Coalition


meet our crew people.

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

Lynne Westerfield

Stewardship Program Manager

Lynne has spent her professional career dividing her time between conservation initiatives, outdoor education, and guiding in the wild places … Read More

Jonathan Patt

Field Operations Manager

Jonathan has been an avid outdoor enthusiast most of his life, and grew up hiking and exploring the Southwest with … 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

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

Rebecca Watson

Office Admin

Rebecca moved from Colorado to Arizona in 2022. She brings 30 years of management and administrative experience in the telecom … Read More

Nizhoni Baldwin

Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator

Nizhoni grew up on the Navajo Reservation where her love for the outdoors began. Having spent much of her childhood … Read More

Rob McFarren

Veterans Outreach Associate

Rob is an established leader who has extensive experience building and leading strong-identity teams. A United States Military Academy graduate … Read More

Dexter Kopas

Field Crew Leader

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

Nico Lorenzen

Field Crew Leader

Nico was born and raised in Tucson and spent most of his time out and about in the Sonoran Desert … Read More

Sam Baggenstos

Conservation Associate

Ever since he was a mere stripling Sam has enjoyed three things: reading, friendships, and adventures. Recently, he has carefully … Read More

Kile Stumbo

Field Crew Member

Kile grew up in the Phoenix area before moving to Los Angeles to pursue audio production for film & television. … Read More

Iman Chatila

Field Crew Member

Iman grew up in Bellevue, WA. After getting a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, she first worked with youth in … Read More

Ollie Linden

Field Crew Member

Ollie Linden is an artist whose love for nature springs from an early childhood in the woods of northern New … Read More

Chloe Ondracek

Field Crew Member

After growing up in North Dakota, Chloe moved to Arizona to attend grad school. She discovered grad school was not … Read More

Joseph Cofresi

Field Crew Member

I was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula exploring the fascinating coastline I got to call home, from tall … Read More

Sage Bradford

Field Crew Member

Sage grew up in Chicago, IL. In 2018, they left the midwest for the coastal redwoods and Pacific Ocean of Santa … Read More

Mel Elbert

Field Crew Member

Melissa (More often known as “Mel”) did not discover her connection with this beautiful planet until college, during a 6 month stint … Read More

Bradley Harmon

Field Crew Member

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Bradley started his journey with conservation field work in 2018 in the conservation corps … Read More