A Song for the River with Phil Connors

Thursday, September 20, 7pm; Suggested donation $10 at the door

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Philip Connors will reflect on the Gila River’s place in the history of American conservation, and its suitability for designation as a Wild and Scenic river. In the words of the act that created the system, it applies to rivers that “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.” Informed by his time spent with biologists, archaeologists, ranchers, river runners, and fishermen and women, Connors will articulate what makes the Gila River unique among Western watersheds, and how we might honor its superlative values—in the words of the act that created the Wild and Scenic Rivers System—“for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” Phil Connors will have his books for sale after the presentation and will be on hand to sign them.

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Wild and Scenic River: An American Legacy   Keynote Address with Tim Palmer

Friday, September 21, 7pm; Suggested donation $10 at the door

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

Writer and photographer Tim Palmer will present a spectacular slide show about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, its history, importance, successes, and future. Tim will show stunning photos of the rivers safeguarded under the Act and talk about the significance of this landmark legislation and its potential to protect additional rivers. Tim’s program is based on his 2017 book, Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy, published by Oregon State University Press. President Jimmy Carter, a lover of wild rivers, said of Tim Palmer’s book Wild and Scenic Rivers, “With his book about our Wild and Scenic Rivers, Tim Palmer has made a great contribution to America. Having been directly involved in this program, I’m grateful that the legacy of all who have worked to protect these rivers will be known and appreciated.” We’ll have a selection of Tim Palmer’s books for sale after his presentation, and Tim will be available to sign them.


Gila Descending with Dutch Salmon

Thursday, September 20, 11 am - noon; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

 In the spring of 1983 the outlook was grim for the free flow of the Gila River. The Conner Dam, a major federal and state sponsored instream reservoir, was going in—everyone said so—threatening the Gila, the last mainstem river in New Mexico that could be called wild. Dutch Salmon sought to experience that wild river before it was gone, from its seminal springs above 10,000 feet to where it ceases to fl ow as a natural river some 200 miles downstream. And he would travel with two unlikely companions—a hound dog and a tomcat. Come and share the trip with Dutch via Gila Descending: The Slide Show. We’ll backpack sixty miles through the heart of the Gila Wilderness, America’s first. We’ll meet the ghosts of wolves and grizzly bears; fierce Apache warriors and gentle Mimbres artists; mountain men and other characters. Later, downstream, we’ll catch some catfish for breakfast, see what it’s like to canoe whitewater with a dog and a cat, and share the antics of these two friends who promote all of humor, exasperation, and love. We’ll learn how the Conner Dam and subsequent attempts to tame the Gila and its defenders have all come to naught. And we can discuss how we can keep it that way, including the campaign to get Wild and Scenic River designation for the Gila.

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Rivers on the Run with Adrian Oglesby

Thursday, September 20, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

Water law attorney Adrian Oglesby will give a presentation on the intricacies and history of water law in New Mexico. He’ll explore questions such as: How much water does a river need? What’s the value of instream river flows? What is beneficial use of water? How did prior appropriation water rights come into existence, and what are the consequences? How should society plan for droughts and climate change? Does Wild and Scenic River status protect our state’s designated rivers from development and overuse? Oglesby will talk about the need for a realistic system that takes into account water needs, conservation, and preparing for climate change.

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Promise and Potential of  Wild and Scenic Rivers Act with Steve Harris

Thursday, September 20, 2:15pm - 3:15pm; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

River runner Steve Harris will give a presentation on the promise and potential of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. He will talk about New Mexico’s iconic Rio Grande and the reasons why it was designated, along with its tributary the Red River, as one of the eight Wild and Scenic Rivers upon passage of the act in 1968. Protecting the Rio Grande was a good start, but, fi ve decades later, the Land of Enchantment has added just three more Wild and Scenic Rivers: the Pecos, Chama, and East Fork of the Jemez. How can we realize the promise of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to safeguard more rivers in the decades to come? What are the challenges of truly protecting rivers today? Steve Harris will share his ideas, inspired by the wild rivers themselves.


A Wild River's Value with Dr. Denielle Perry and Steve Harris

Thursday, September 20, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

Most people acknowledge that rivers and riparian areas are necessary for the survival of native plants and wildlife. Less well known is the fact that humans derive benefits from untamed rivers, too. What are some of these benefits? To play devil’s advocate, what good is a wild river? In addition to the obvious value of providing freshwater, rivers also regulate floods and erosion, purify water, form soil, cycle nutrients, and more. Denielle Perry and Steve Harris are well versed in the subject of rivers; for decades, both have been river runners and guides. Today, Dr. Perry studies the benefits of river conservation policies, such as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, through the protection of ecosystem services provided by wild rivers. Denielle will talk about the ecological benefits of Wild and Scenic River designation, which has been proposed for the Gila and some of its tributaries. Steve Harris, the owner of a river rafting company, has firsthand knowledge of the ways in which Wild and Scenic designation benefits local, oft en rural, economies. Join them for a lively discussion on how and why wild rivers are good for us in every way.


Aldo Leopold - A Living History with Steve Morgan

Friday, September 21, 11:00 am - noon; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

Who is Aldo Leopold? Why are his words still so relevant, seventy years after his death? While employed by the Forest Service in New Mexico from 1909 to 1924, Aldo Leopold was alarmed by considerable degradation of wildlands. He convinced the Forest Service to designate a large chunk of the Gila National Forest as the nation’s first wilderness area, to be protected in perpetuity. Later, Leopold began to write his observations of the land. In an influential essay, he described his Land Ethic, which “simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” This famous essay, “The Land Ethic,” was one of many in his posthumously published A Sand County Almanac, which, almost seventy years after its publication, is considered one of the classics of the conservation movement, and is highly relevant today. In this Living History (or Chautauqua) presentation, naturalist Steve Morgan takes on the persona of Aldo Leopold, using his inspiring words to talk about many of today’s important conservation issues. Aldo expounds on the reasons why biodiversity is so crucial, and the need to protect our wildlands and rivers. What would Leopold think about the proposal to designate the Gila as a Wild and Scenic River?

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In Defense of Water: Activism through Film with Sinjin Eberle and Tony Estrada

Friday, September 21, 1:00 pm -2:30 pm; FREE

WNMU Global Resource Center Auditorium

Join filmmakers Sinjin Eberle and Tony Estrada for an exploration of film and digital media as tools for social and environmental change. For decades, activists have tried various tactics for shifting public perception and rousing people to action. Because we humans are visual creatures, with half of our brain directly or indirectly devoted to processing visual information, it makes sense that fi lm is an effective way to grab our attention and awaken a visceral response that prompts us to engage. Estrada and Eberle will introduce and show a few of their short documentaries that demonstrate the power of fi lm. Sinjin Eberle’s films pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the rivers it has protected. Tony Estrada’s documentaries widen the lens to present a defense of all water, above and below ground, seen and unseen. After the films, these gifted filmmakers will discuss their work and motivation, how they became filmmakers, and why they continue to work in this challenging medium.


Mythical River, Real Food

Local Food Brunch with author Melissa Sevigny. 10:30 a.m.–noon. The Commons (The Volunteer Center), 501 E. 13th St. Fee: $50/person. Fundraiser for the Gila Conservation Coalition.

While you’re enjoying a delicious, home-cooked meal made with locally-produced and foraged foods made by the Mesquitos, writer Melissa Sevigny will discuss the historic quest for navigable rivers in the American West, early explorers’ obstinate, optimistic belief in nonexistent rivers, and the unending search for “new” waters. In Mythical River: Chasing the Mirage of New Water in the American Southwest, Melissa Sevigny writes about a 1776 Spanish expedition that, while exploring a safe trade route to California, named a river “El Río de San Buenaventura.” Subsequent mapmakers depicted the Buenaventura River running west to the Pacific Ocean. No less an explorer than Alexander von Humboldt perpetuated this mythic river in a hand-drawn map. Sevigny employs the Buenaventura as a metaphor for Americans’ undying frontier mindset in our search for “new” water to exploit. Gradually, though, this paradigm is changing, as increasing numbers of people realize the value of wild rivers and the imperative to protect them from overuse and development, as evidenced by half a century of Wild and Scenic River designations. Sevigny will talk about one such designation in her home state of Arizona: Fossil Creek in the Gila basin.