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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/3/2013 2:00:00 PM
The Verde River Institute: A can-do attitude to keep the Verde flowing
The brainchild of two studies on the economics of the Verde River, as well as Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig, the Verde River Institute was formed over the last year to take on the prickly questions of public policy needed to keep the Verde River flowing.
The brainchild of two studies on the economics of the Verde River, as well as Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig, the Verde River Institute was formed over the last year to take on the prickly questions of public policy needed to keep the Verde River flowing.

Steve Ayers
Staff Reporter

CLARKDALE - Advocacy on behalf of the Verde River began in collective fashion almost 20 years ago with the formation of the Verde Watershed Association.

Since then several other organizations have formed including the Verde River Citizen's Alliance, Verde River Basin Partnership, Citizen's Water Advocacy Group, Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee and Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition.

In almost every instance, one group formed to fill a void left by previously formed groups, be it scientific inquiry, education or management on the Verde side of the mountain or the Prescott side.

But a couple of recent studies of the river showed there were additional gaps remaining to be filled if the river was to live up to its economic potential -- one of coordinating the advocacy groups and the other of taking on the more volatile subject of public policy.

Last year, a group led by Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig formed the Verde River Institute to begin filling those gaps.

"Our primary mission is to determine what needs to be done to keep water in the Verde River and at the same time make the solution practical and palatable to everyone involved.

"We will be looking at it from a perspective of creative solutions and not from the view that it can't happen. Our belief is that we need to decide what needs to be done and then get out there and make it happen," says Von Gausig, who is serving as the VRI's executive director.

Along with Von Gausig, the group includes Supervisor Chip Davis, Linda Buchanan of Yavapai College, Chip Norton of the Friends of the Verde River Greenway, Dan Campbell, formerly of The Nature Conservancy, and board Chairman Julie Walker, whose family has been ranching in the valley for 50 years.

Von Gausig describes the organization as "organic," and as such will evolve as needed to fulfill it goals.

"It's a policy organization first and foremost. We will have a couple of main thrusts. One will be to educate policy makers about the Verde River and its benefits and its threats. We plan to be more active than passive on all levels of government.

"Secondly we want to develop a workshop where stakeholders and policy makers can get together and try to come up with some innovative solutions to the challenges of the river," says Von Gausig.

Its newly launched website,, has already become a clearinghouse of nearly every document produced on the river over the last 20 years or more.

"One of our goals is to have a library of all the pertinent information that is out there. Ultimately, the website will be indexed and searchable. But for now we are trying to provide on access. It's a work in process," said Von Gausig.

The VRI has received a grant from the Walton Foundation to begin its work.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Floating Down the River

Yes the town of Clarkdale citizens certainly due deserve more, much more. The Mayor and Town Manager need to go, they have both been in power way too long. Now spending all this time and energy (yes I know the money is from the Waltons) but you two work for the tax payers and what your doing floating down the river of dreams is not helping Clarkdale one little bit. Just looks like your endulging your personal agendas and fantizies. Save the verdie well yes but it is not up to town government spend your time bringing in real investment a real tax base, not some pie in the sky BS.

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Article comment by: Can do attitude gets no traction

Can do attitude? Is that something like the mayor's big deal Sustainability Park? Remember when nobody could say a bad word about it, because he was determined to succeed? He is full so much bluster. A lot of big talk, with no results. Nobody believes him anymore. Oh happy day. We already have a hundred water groups in the county. What we really need is one more. Even with all the big dollars the Walton family is pouring into Clarkdale, the Sustainability Park was a tornado of eventual inaction with no results. De mayor is a failure. We citizens of Clarkdale deserve better.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: kenny mollohan

There must be a place to put a dam without upsetting too many people

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