Friends of Verde River Greenway To Partner with Arizona Conservation Corps After Being Awarded Two Grants

Article, published July 1, 2014, appears in Verde Independent.

COTTONWOOD - Friends of Verde River Greenway (FVRG) has been awarded two grants to continue riparian habitat improvement activities on public lands along the Verde River. FVRG is the lead non-profit of the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC), a partnership including public land managers, local municipalities, community based organizations and more than 200 private landowners.

As part of America's Great Outdoors 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Initiative, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) launched Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists program, which is designed to support organizations like FVRG that are developing innovative job opportunities that expose young adults to career opportunities available in conservation. FVRG was awarded $49,765 for habitat improvement projects on Prescott National Forest land along the Verde River between Perkinsville and Sycamore Creek. FVRG will partner with Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) to employee Verde Valley young adults to carry out this work.

The Yavapai County Resource Advisory Committee awarded FVRG $74,005 to continue habitat improvement work at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Verde River Greenway and the Town of Clarkdale. The Verde River provides breeding habitat for many migratory birds, including the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, an endangered bird that nests in the Cottonwood/Willow Gallery Forest along the Verde River. Site evaluations and bird surveys are conducted by US Fish and Wildlife Service and AZ Game and Fish to ensure that all riparian restoration work will be done with respect to the bird populations.

Since 2012, FVRG and VWRC partners have employed more than 50 young adult and local veterans to perform habitat improvement work along the Verde River and its tributaries by removing invasive plants and restoring riparian habitat on both public and private land. VWRC begins its third treatment season in September, continuing the public/private partnership that successfully works towards healthier riparian areas throughout the Verde Watershed.

Southwest Conservation Corps Announcing Big Changes this Earth Day

From Southwest Conservation Corps President & CEO Harry Bruell

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Partners,

In celebration of Earth Day we are excited to make an official announcement about our organizational re-structure to better align the organization with its unprecedented growth over the past 15 years.

The new name of our overall non-profit agency is now Conservation Legacy, a national organization that supports local and regional conservation service programs from seven offices across America.  Southwest Conservation Corps remains the name for the Conservation Legacy program that operates conservation corps in Colorado and New Mexico from offices in Durango and Salida, CO and Pueblo of Acoma, NM.  Other Conservation Legacy programs include the Arizona Conservation Corps (conservation corps in Arizona and Southern New Mexico; based in Flagstaff and Tucson, AZ), Environmental Stewards(individual placements in 22 states; based in Durango, CO), Southeast Youth Corps (conservation corps across the Southeast; based in Chattanooga, TN), andVISTA Teams (individual placements in the Appalachians and Colorado/New Mexico; based in Beckley, WV).  Please see the attached document for more information about the new structure.

The new structure allows Conservation Legacy to better support its programs with shared resources while allowing each program to develop its own identity and to customize programming to the needs and assets of the communities it serves.   We couldn’t imagine a more fitting day than Earth Day to announce the next phase of the organization’s development.  Our mission is to empower individuals to positively impact their lives, their communities and the environment, and we hope this next phase of our organizational development will allow us to support more young people, veterans and communities to make everyday Earth Day.

Conservation Legacy began in Durango, CO in 1998 as Southwest Youth Corps and changed its name to Southwest Conservation Corps in 2006 after merging with the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona.  In 2013 the organization engaged 709 young people, veterans and crew leaders who completed over 350,000 hours of service maintaining recreational trails and open space, protecting communities from wildfire, and preserving wildlife habitat.

The new structure will allow Conservation Legacy to support emerging corps programs and to help lead and promote national initiatives such as the growing movement to engage more young Americans in conservation service through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).  Conservation Legacy is a co-founder of the Public Lands Service Coalition and Conservation Legacy staff and Board members served on the 21CSC Federal Advisory Committee (Chair) and the Partnership for the 21CSC (co-Chair).       

Thank you for your support of Conservation Legacy, its programs and, most importantly, the young people, veterans and communities the organization serves.  Please refer to our new website for further information, please connect with us on our new Facebook page, and please feel free to contact me or 970-403-0143 with questions, suggestions or ideas.

Thanks for all that you do to support conservation service corps,

Harry Bruell

President & CEO


Boiler Plate: 
In celebration of Earth Day we are excited to make an official announcement about our organizational re-structure to better align the organization with its unprecedented growth over the past 15 years.

Arizona Conservation Corps is Born: Coconino Rural Environment Corps and Southwest Conservation Corps Sonoran Desert Office become Arizona Conservation Corps

Southwest Conservation Corps Sonoran Desert Office (SCC) and the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC) have recently joined forces as Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC). 

Additionally, Southwest Conservation Corps has created Conservation Legacy - a new parent organization that will continue to operate the SCC program out of Colorado, the AZCC program, Environmental Stewards, a VISTA Team and Southeast Youth Corps. 


"We are confident and already seeing signs of our organization being much stronger as one in Arizona," said Rob Spath, AZCC Executive Director. "We will continue to operate two offices (Tucson and Flagstaff) with many satellite programs in the White Mountains, the Greater Phoenix area, Cottonwood and Safford.  We will also continue to support programming in Southern New Mexico and Southern Utah.  And most importantly, we will be offering up the same, if not better, programs and services."


2013 Corps Legacy Achievement Award winner, John Irish


In 1972, John Irish took a position working with at-risk youth for the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center. This experience started John’s 39 year career of promoting, designing, developing, and implementing corps programs across the state of Arizona. As said by Miquelle Sheier, program manager of Coconino Rural Environment Corps, “We, Arizona and the Nation, owe John a debt of gratitude for the…public and private support he has generated during his years of service in support…and preservation of corps programs.”
After leaving his position with the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, John took a job with the US Forest Service. John was employed by the Forest Service in one capacity or another from 1977 to March 2005. During this nearly 30 year career, John worked with the Forest Service National Job Corps office on several projects designed to develop relationships between various youth corps programs and Job Corps centers. John was at one point responsible for providing support for senior, youth and volunteer programs in four National Forests. He was also responsible for the start up, supervision and coordination of numerous corps programs and work projects. John helped set up and was Director of a Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) program and helped set up several Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) programs in Arizona. He also established the Arizona Conservation Corps (ACC) and the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC). John served as the Director of CREC from 1996 to 1999 and returned as Interim Director in 2005 and 2006.The organization celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2012.
Additionally, John has been involved in the design, development and implementation of several AmeriCorps programs. This includes Team USDA Arizona, and Youth-In-Action AmeriCorps, which is currently the longest running and largest AmeriCorps program in Arizona.
John’s commitment to youth, conservation and service has been influential in building support for the Corps Movement and in establishing Corps legislation at the state and national levels. In 1985, it was John’s work with Arizona State Representative Karan English that resulted in the passage of House Bill 2654, which established funding for a conservation corps program in Arizona. This bill literally launched the Arizona Conservation Corps (ACC) and provided support and funding for corps programs throughout the state. John’s efforts fostered a powerful grass roots movement that united citizens and organizations throughout Arizona in supporting youth and environment. The Arizona Conservation Corps was recognized by the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (NASCC, now The Corps Network) as “A Model of Federal-State Cooperation.”
In 2004, John worked with Arizona congressional candidate, and former Coconino County Supervisor, Paul Babbitt, to support US Senator John Kerry in announcing the Forest Restoration Program that included about a hundred million dollars for an environmental corps.
John served on The Corps Network (then called NASCC) Board of Directors from 1993 to 1996. He has been an active member of The Corps Network for over 20 years. Since 2005, John has served as the Chairman of Southwest Conservation Corps’s (SCC) Four Corners Board of Directors, Secretary of SCC’s Executive Board of Directors, and is the current Chairman of SCC's Board of Directors.
When asked what keeps him so passionate about the Corps movement after all this time, John says, “Because this is good stuff.” John’s vision and contributions to the Corps movement have definitely brought the “good stuff” to numerous communities and thousands of youth and young adults.