Sonoran Desert Conservation Award 2014

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is pleased to announce the winners of this year's Sonoran Desert Conservation Award. This year the award will be given to the bi-national team of Osvel Hinojosa Huerta, Director of the Water and Wetlands Program for Pronatura Noroeste, Mexico, and Jennifer Pitt, Director of the Colorado River Project for the Environmental Defense Fund, U.S.

Colorado River Riparian Corridor

This prestigious award is given only every 1-2 years to recognize individuals whose work has had a significant impact on conservation in the Sonoran Desert region. The previous two winners of this award were Chuck Huckelberry (Pima County Administrator), and COBI (Comunidad y Biodiversidad, Mexico; Jorge Torre & Luis Bourillón, Founders). This year, nominations were made by regional conservation organizations on both sides of the border. A set of outstanding nominations were evaluated by a committee consisting of Rick Brusca (University of Arizona; Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Emeritus), Rodrigo Medellín (Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de México), Sherry Barrett (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and past winners Jorge Torre and Chuck Huckelberry. The awardees were chosen in recognition of their distinguished careers dedicated to Sonoran Desert Conservation, including, most recently, their successful collaborative efforts to return Colorado River water to the Colorado River Delta. Both their individual, impressive endeavors as well as their bi-national collaboration, are a model for conservation efforts in this region.

The award will be presented on August 2, 2014 at an evening event at the Museum that will honor and highlight the work of conservation organizations in our region. The award will include a certificate and spectacular sculpture of a Mexican wolf by Mark Rossi.

Award Criteria

More information about this year's awardees follows:

Osvel Hinojosa

Osvel Hinojosa Huerta is the Director of the Water and Wetlands Program for Pronatura Noroeste. He obtained his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona and his B.Sc. in Biochemical Engineering and Marine Sciences from ITESM (Monterrey Institute of Technology) Guaymas Campus. Osvel Hinojosa has been working in multiple conservation and research projects in northwestern Mexico since 1997, in particular in riparian and wetland areas of the Sonoran Desert, first with the Center for Conservation and Use of Natural Resources of ITESM Guaymas Campus, then with the School of Natural Resources of the University of Arizona, and finally with Pronatura Noroeste.

Some of his recent activities include the evaluation and recovery of endangered species, the implementation of community-based restoration projects, and the creation of conservation partnerships between government agencies and local communities. Recently, he has been leading the efforts to restore the Colorado River Delta, including the implementation of strategies to restore river flows and activities to recover native riparian vegetation. He is part of the binational coalition that facilitated the signing of Minute 319 of the International Water Treaty between Mexico and the United States, which guarantees water flows to restore the Colorado River delta, co-chairing the Environmental Workgroup. In 2012, the National Geographic Society named him an Emerging Explorer.

Jennifer Pitt

Jennifer Pitt directs the Environmental Defense Fund's efforts on the Colorado River, to protect and restore the delta and reform water policy. She works with water users throughout the Colorado River Basin to develop practical programs to restore river habitats and, critically, to dedicate water to environmental resources. Her expertise includes the U.S.-Mexico border environmental issues, the legal and policy framework for Colorado River management, the economics of water use and water transfers, and the science of river restoration.

Jennifer participates and leads multi-party negotiations including a successful effort to find common ground between water users. Together with Osvel, she is also part of the binational coalition that facilitated the signing of Minute 319 of the International Water Treaty between Mexico and the United States, which guarantees water flows to restore the Colorado River Delta.

According to Meredith de la Garza Treviño (Executive Director, Niparajá) who nominated the pair, Osvel and Jennifer have been instrumental in the implementation of strategies to reestablish water flows in the Colorado River Delta. The Colorado River, at its delta, used to form a vast and lush oasis that sustained a high diversity of life forms and vibrant local economies. Irrigation and water demand from the growing southwest US reduced the delta to almost nothing, and left the river with no connection to the Gulf of California. In spite of extended droughts, challenging weather predictions due to climate change, and complex border issues, Jennifer and Osvel were tireless in their efforts and instrumental in putting water for ecosystem restoration on the agenda. More than 15 years ago Osvel started working with local communities to better understand their perspectives on a healthy river, he also started doing research about better approaches for restoration in the delta. JenniferĀ“s expertise on U.S.-Mexico border environmental issues, the legal and policy framework for Colorado River management, the economics of water use and water transfers, and the science of river restoration perfectly combined to achieve an historic deal which guarantees flows to restore the Colorado River Delta.

People like Osvel and Jennifer have inspired citizens and public agencies to restore the Colorado River Delta. But beyond that, they have demonstrated that conservation is possible even in adverse circumstances. This example of vision, leadership, perseverance and actions based in science is already proving that the Colorado River Delta can flourish again. And this work provides an excellent example to replicate in other environments.

Further Information:

Osvel Hinojosa

http://www.pronatura-noroeste.org/index.php?op=dir&secc=35&subSec=cv&idcv=66&idioma=I
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/osvel-hinojosa-huerta/
http://independent.academia.edu/OsvelHinojosaHuerta
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxSEoCTO9Dg

Jennifer Pitt

http://www.edf.org/people/jennifer-pitt
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/author/jpitt/
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/videos/interview-jennifer-pitt-director-of-the-colorado-river-pro