On February 16, the Urban Waters Learning Network announced that the Friends of the Rio de Flag will be awarded a 2021 Learning Network Expert Award in the category of Environmental Justice & Equity. The award is for our work during 2016-2018 to support education, dialogue, and coordination with Southside residents and community partners. Through surveys, public meetings, walking tours, and partnership building with the City of Flagstaff and Southside Community Association, Friends of the Rio de Flag helped residents plan for the future of their river after having suffered management-induced floods for decades. Ultimately, this work contributed to the success of the Southside Community Specific Plan, which received an award from the International Association for Public Participation.
This work was carried out primarily by Friends of the Rio de Flag’s former Executive Director Chelsea Silva, and our former Outreach Coordinator Matt Muchna. Their work was supported by Friends of the Rio de Flag members like YOU, who generously responded to appeals to fund their work during 2017-2018. As part of the award, Friends will receive $6000 worth of professional support for capacity building, communications, and design services or programs. Additionally, one student will be awarded a scholarship to the River Rally Conference, and $1,500 will be awarded to further their river related knowledge through specialized training.
This award-winning work was also the catalyst for our current collaborative watershed planning effort, which launched in 2020 when we received a Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grant. In that effort, the Friends has led the effort to create the Watershed Alliance for the Rio de Flag (WARF).
You can read more about the award, and how we earned it, here: https://www.urbanwaterslearningnetwork.org/resources/centering-environmental-justice-to-strengthen-community-partnerships-oct-2020/. Please congratulate yourself for your good work!
River Rally Scholarship Awardee:
• Vicente Diaz graciously accepted the scholarship to attend the River Rally meeting. He is affiliated with three tribes and also is of Mexican descent. His thesis research is focused on ways in which federal conservation policies can be used to support the re-Indigenization of water resources.
Urban Waters Learning Network $1500 award for Training Awardees:
Both attended Natural Channel Design’s Stream Morphology workshop.
• Monica Pech Cardenas, PhD student in Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability. “I have over 5 years working with implementation and monitoring of mangrove restoration projects in Mexico on my master’s in marine biology and later work with mangrove restoration experts. That training in hydrologic restoration of coastal ecosystems was crucial to focus my research. Currently, I am a PhD student at School of Earth and Sustainability. I am aiming to address restoration of inherently connected ecosystems such as mangroves and rivers at regional and national level in Mexico. I have been doing bibliographic reviews about policies and management actions of rivers in the western US and Mexico under the direction of Dr. Denielle Perry, a water resource geographer. Because I want to help organizations and governments in my country to improve restoration practices, I need to integrate areas such as ecological engineering, hydrological restoration, and fluvial geomorphology in my research. I strongly think that implementing River engineering principles will give a powerful tool for being a future expert in the design of ecologically acceptable channels and structures for estuarine areas.”
• Vicente Diaz, MA student in Sustainable Communities, affiliated with Haulapai and Washoe tribes. His thesis is on using Wild and Scenic Rivers Act for Indigenous river governance. No prior experience with restoration.
Urban Waters Learning Network $6000 award for Capacity Building
• Brochures, Poster, and Logo Design, Potential upgrades to Pocketsights Virtual Tour