Southwest Rivers Grants

Southwest Rivers Grants

Our Southwest Rivers Grants, established in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, tackle a critical challenge in river restoration: ensuring the project is successful for a very long time. Streams and rivers offer an above-ground glimpse at the health of a watershed. Like arteries and veins in a body, streams and rivers pump their lifeblood—fresh water—throughout the landscape. Taking the time to conduct long-term monitoring and maintenance helps extend the success of a project. It also provides invaluable scientific data that can be shared with others. 

In 2023, the story is one of commitment and the shared responsibility to protect four life-giving rivers. It’s a narrative that transcends money, speaking to our interconnectedness with the natural world. These grants are not just about rivers; they are about safeguarding the environment for trout, bears, beavers and moose—and ourselves as well.

Grants were awarded for the Dolores, Escalante, Gila and Verde Rivers. 

  • Arizona’s Gila Watershed Partnership battles the loss of native habitat for the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. This beautiful migratory songbird does an amazing job keeping bugs in check along rivers and wetlands.
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners wage war against the choking grip of Russian olive growth along the sandstone canyons of the Escalante River in Utah, ensuring access for visitors.
  • RiversEdge West stands vigilant on the Dolores River in Colorado, eradicating invasive plants and crafting a comprehensive river action plan while collaborating across all four watersheds to gather and analyze critical data. How do they get that data? Through monitoring and maintenance. Why is it important? Because using science accelerates river health.
  • Friends of the Verde River protect one of Arizona’s only two Wild and Scenic Rivers. The good news is this river still has lush populations of native cottonwood and willows. The bad news is invasive plants like tamarisk and Russian olive are creeping in, with their long roots that grow 100 feet deep and 165 feet wide. These thirsty invasives can down 200 gallons of water a day.
  • Conservation Legacy‘s Southwest Conservation Corps deploys a dedicated crew to conduct rapid monitoring and maintenance in all four of these rivers, standardizing data collection that will ultimately be shared with other practitioners.

For more details, read our blogs on the Conservation Legacy and Southwest Rivers Grant awards.

Conservation Legacy logo
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners logo
RIversEdge West logo

“We are proud to support and partner with the Forever Our Rivers Foundation in developing a sustainable river funding model. The Forever Our Rivers model is the best bet to provide reliable and sustainable funding, as public and private philanthropic sources often do not meet long-term needs to protect and restore healthy rivers."  - Peter, Walton Family Foundation