Silver city, new mexico

September 19th - 22nd, 2019

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The 15th Annual 

Gila River Festival

The Gila Conservation Coalition hosts the 15th annual Gila River Festival September 19-22, 2019 in Silver City, New Mexico and along the Gila River. Join us to explore the future of the Gila River in relation to the changing climate, as well as our responsibility to act as responsible earth stewards, with keynote speaker climate activist Tim DeChristopher and many renowned presenters.

The four-day festival will feature dynamic presentations and hands-on activities designed to foster a deeper intimacy with the Gila River, New Mexico’s last wild river and named America’s #1 Most Endangered River of 2019 by the organization American Rivers. Festival events include river outings, expert-led hikes and field trips, presentations, music, community art projects, and more.

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher will give the Gila River Festival keynote presentation, addressing our moral and ethical responsibility to safeguard the climate for fellow species and future human generations. DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Held for a total of 21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government. He has used this as a platform to spread the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold, confrontational action in order to create a just and healthy world. DeChristopher used his prosecution as an opportunity to organize the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising in Salt Lake City, and most recently founded the Climate Disobedience Center.

Don't miss the 15th Annual Gila River Festival's Gila River Extravaganza, Saturday, September 21, 4pm - 10 pm in Silver City's Gough Park featuring music by Caliente and Auld Lang Syne, Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers, San Carlos Apache Singers, photo booths, food vendors, chill zone, merch, art, games and more!

On-line registration is now open!

Events taking place on Forest Service land are authorized by the Gila National Forest through a special use permit.

Artwork by Elli Sorensen

Artwork by Elli Sorensen

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Schedule of Events

Field Trips

The 2019 Gila River Festival features expert-led field trips to the Gila River and Gila National Forest, focusing on local cultural and natural history, such as archaeology, rock art, birding, and more. On-line registration for the 2019 Gila River Festival is now open!

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FIELD TRIP: upper san francisco box

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field trip: regenerative landscapes


field trip: from vacant lot to lush garden


Field trip: climate changes - Past & present


field trip: butterflies of the gila


Field Trip: Gila lower box 


field trip: horseback riding 


Field trip: Inspiration in place


Field Trip: mogollon box birds


Field Trip: burro cienaga restoration


Field trip: gila river archaeology & Obsidian


Field trip: mulberry canyon restoration 


field trip: wild & scenic fishing 


field trip: river ranch tour




The 2019 Gila River Festival will host some amazing speakers. Here are the highlights of the 2019 lineup. Full list of speakers


tim Dechristopher

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher will give the Gila River Festival keynote presentation, addressing our moral and ethical responsibility to safeguard the climate for fellow species and future human generations.             



akilah sanders-reed

Youth plaintiff Akilah Sanders-Reed will speak to her experience in a New Mexico climate justice lawsuit based on the public trust doctrine of the U.S. Constitution and New Mexico state law.


naelyn pike

San Carlos Apache Tribe youth activist Naelyn Pike, will discuss how the ways in which the Apache consider themselves an integral part of nature have compelled her people to defend the sacred Oak Flat (near Tucson) from a proposed mine that would be ecologically devastating.


adrian oglesby

Water law attorney and director of the University of New Mexico’s Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Adrian Oglesby, will talk about legal personhood status for rivers and nature, which courts have recently granted in New Zealand, Colombia, and India.


michael berman

Guggenheim Fellow landscape photographer Michael Berman will share his stories and photographs about wolves, Coues deer, snow leopards and the wild places on borders of Mexico and Mongolia.  His presentation will feature his new book Perdido about the Sierra San Luis, the wildest place on the Mexican border.   

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sinjin eberle

Communications Director/ Executive Producer with American Rivers, Sinjin Eberle will talk about how climate change is impacting our rivers and water supplies. How can we strengthen our communities in the face of flooding, drought, pollution and other threats?


sharman apt russell

Sharman Apt Russell, a John Burroughs awardee for Distinguished Nature Writing and author of Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist. Russell will provide a historical survey of the philosophies and religious traditions from cultures around the world that have defined our relationship with the natural world.


martha cooper

Southwest New Mexico Field Representative for The Nature Conservancy, Martha Cooper manages restoration, monitoring and stewardship projects on the Gila and Mimbres River Preserves. Martha will discuss the projected impacts of climate change on Gila River flows.




Silver City, NM


The Gila River Festival is based in Silver City, New Mexico, the gateway to the Gila Wilderness -- America's first wilderness area. A variety of expert-guided field trips will be offered to bring you unforgettable experiences of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest and the Gila River, New Mexico's last wild river. Silver City has a vibrant historic downtown and thriving art community. 

A wide variety of lodging options is available. 

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Wild rivers are earth’s renegades, defying gravity, dancing to their own tunes, resisting the authority of humans, always chipping away, and eventually always winning.
— Richard Bangs & Christian Kallen