Contributed Photo: Gila Valley Leadership Cohort 17 learn about the ecology of the Gila River.
SAFFORD- Gila Valley Leadership toured the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area and learned about the City of Safford water sources and local archeology on April 6.
Cohort 17 met Thursday morning at the Bureau of Land Management Safford Field Office bright and early to learn about a plethora of subjects including the internal workings of the BLM as well as City of Safford water sources, safe boating, and archeological histories of the area.
BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Clay Romero was one of the first presenters to the cohort, and he touched on archeological theft. After Romero’s presentation, the cohort was given an up-close look at wildland firefighting as they were given the fire program overview by Lathe Evans, assistant fire management officer.
The trip to the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area was dusty but the weather was great as the cohort stretched their legs in the local BLM area. Lamoni Mora, an outdoor recreation planner, discussed recreation with the cohort. Jody Jett, BLM river ranger, gave a quick class discussing water safety and traveling down the Gila River.
A drive to the Serna Cabin picnic area brought the group closer to history. BLM Archeologist George Maloof gave a lesson on the development of the area from the 1920s forward, briefly mentioning ancient civilizations who inhabited the area as well.
Following lunch from Fancy Pizzeria, the cohort learned about endangered fish species and their role as the canary in the mine of water safety. As the cohort stood on the banks of Bonita Creek, which is the source of the Safford City Water, they listened to Matt Stewart, Water Hydrologist. Moran Seale, water division manager with the City of Safford also discussed water, the source of the City of Safford’s survival and its preservation.
Kay Marchione, Graham County Chamber of Commerce professional, said the class explored many elements of the community’s survival, history, and future through the day’s lectures.
“I know the members of Cohort 17 are already very knowledgeable, but I could tell that they were finding out even more about our community and history,” she said. “I love that. I love it that Gila Valley Leadership is such a great educational experience.”
The Gila Valley Leadership program is a 10-month, monthly leadership and professional development program led by the Graham County Chamber of Commerce, City of Safford, Town of Thatcher, Town of Pima, Graham County, and Eastern Arizona College. Delegates enrolled in the program have the opportunity to build relationships with community members and leaders and develop teamwork, organizational and collaborative skills. They are also given the opportunity to tour many of the institutions that make the Gila Valley community’s wheels turn. This programming is made possible through our Copper Chamber of Commerce Members: NatureSweet and Bayacan LLC.