The Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce held the Verde Pride Awards presentation on Thursday morning at Hobo Joe's restaurant. Awards were given to recipients who exemplify civic generosity, entrepreneurial spirit as well as personal achievement.
Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig is the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce choice as Verde Pride Citizen of the Year. He was nominated by Ruth Wicks.
Doug has been a resident of the Verde Valley for about 34 years, and he has been a business owner in Clarkdale and Jerome. He worked for his father in Mabery Associates Insurance and eventually bought the business and then sold it. He then opened a retail business in Jerome and started manufacturing giftware. He sold the retail part of the business and moved the operation to Clarkdale. He is currently a photographer and also records and sells bird and other nature sounds.
Doug graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's in biology. During the Vietnam War, he served as a pilot in the Air Force for six years, reaching the rank of Captain.
His list of achievements is long. From 1994 to 2005, he conducted biological surveys of Peck's Lake and Tavasci Marsh, including sound recordings. During those studies, Doug identified and confirmed the existence of the endangered Yuma Clapper Rail in Tavasci Marsh.
He also, during 2000 and 2001, participated in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's study of Peck's Lake. That study led to alterations of the water-management practices of the lake.
In 2002 to 2003, Doug nominated, documented and conducted surveys for the Audubon Society that led to the creation of Tuzigoot Important Bird Area, the first of 37 Important Bird Areas in Arizona.
He is a member of the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee, currently serving as co-chair. He also serves on the Northern Arizona Water Users Association, as well as other water associations and natural resources committees. He helped form the Verde River Basin Partnership.
Doug is a member of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Executive Committee, and he is a member of the Northern Arizona Mayors Association.
Wicks said that as mayor of Clarkdale, Doug is a leader in finding regional solutions for issues relating to water resources, sustainability, energy, land use, remediation and transportation. He also has proposed the Clarkdale Sustainability Park.
"Doug works to preserve the biological diversity and balance of the inhabitants of the Verde Valley - all inhabitants," Wicks said. "He introduces us to the available wealth of diversity in nature and its interconnectedness."