Desert Botanical Garden awarded Patrick J. Graham, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, its 2020 Conservation Award during the Fourth Annual Conservation Celebration on Nov. 19. The award honors extraordinary individuals for their significant and enduring contributions to the conservation of the Sonoran Desert. The more than 110 attendees of this year’s virtual Conservation Celebration event applauded Graham’s recognition while also celebrating the work of Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, an initiative of Desert Botanical Garden.
Graham has led The Nature Conservancy in Arizona for 19 years, and in this role has truly changed the landscape for conservation in the entire region. He has built a lasting legacy through innovative ideas and approaches and built partnerships with organizations, government, and both urban and rural communities for the benefit of our unique state. Graham is not only responsible for leading these innovative projects on the ground, he has also worked to move the needle forward for conservation at the policy level both in the state and in Washington, D.C. With the trust and respect of members of both Congress and the Senate he has advised on legislation that truly benefits the people and the environment in Arizona.
Graham and his team have led initiatives like the Healthy Cities Initiative, which aims to reduce heat and improve livability in Phoenix. As well as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative across Northern Arizona’s forest, the largest project in the history of the US Forest Service with tens of thousands of acres thinned to support forest health, and the Verde River offset program which built the first-of-its kind system to funnel stormwater underground to replenish aquifers.
“Pat’s long standing commitment to the health and vitality of Arizona’s environment, coupled with his ability to forge successful partnerships across the state, exemplifies the best of what the Garden’s Conservation Award seeks to honor”, said Ken Schutz, Desert Botanical Garden’s Dr. William Huizingh Executive Director.
In addition to the award ceremony, the Conservation Celebration featured Gary Paul Nahban, a celebrated author, MacArthur Award recipient and an innovative agricultural ecologist. He formerly served as Desert Botanical Garden’s director of research, and co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH in 1982, which connects people with the native plants of the Southwest. Considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement, he discussed and shared his latest book The Nature of Desert Nature.
About Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA)
Launched in 2012 by Desert Botanical Garden, the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA) unites a network of land managers, scientists, policy makers, educators, community members, state and federal agencies, and conservation-based nonprofit organizations to develop, align and elevate efforts to conserve and enhance open space in the Central Arizona region. Comprised of more than 60 partnering organizations, CAZCA’s vision is a sustainable preserve system that supports healthy ecosystems and provides beautiful, safe open spaces for healthy, vibrant communities.
About Desert Botanical Garden
Discover the tranquil vibrancy of 50,000 desert plants nestled amid the red rocks of the Papago Buttes at Desert Botanical Garden. An Arizona icon for more than 80 years, the Garden has grown into a compelling attraction and desert conservation pioneer, offering other worldly plants, vibrant trails, world-class exhibitions, festive events and so much more.