By Tom Meixner
My name is Tom Meixner, and I recently became the chair of the Cienega Watershed Partnership. I grew up in suburban Maryland in a town called Rockville. I completed undergraduate degrees in history and in soil and water conservation before coming to Tucson to pursue a PhD in hydrology. After achieving my PhD I accepted a faculty position at the University of California Riverside, where I as an assistant professor before I was hired to return to Tucson as a hydrology professor.
My interest in the Cienega Watershed springs from multiple sources: when I was a boy my family regularly camped in upstate New York for two weeks every year; I was a Boy Scout who eventually achieved the Eagle rank; and I regularly snuck out to play in the streams near the house I grew up in.
Since moving to the West 25 years ago, I have reveled in the landscapes and the natural and human history of the region. The Cienega Watershed exemplifies the many complexities of the Western landscape. The small and important riparian areas have long been a lifeblood of human habitation and for wildlife and the broader ecology of the region. The sweeping vistas have enchanted generations of visitors and residents alike. These vistas are also a working landscape for ranchers, farmers, and others.
This watershed is also special because of the human partnerships that brought about the creation of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area almost 20 years ago. These human partnerships are also what have drawn me to this place.
Like any public lands, the Las Cienegas needs to be managed with multiple uses and thus multiple users in mind. Whether the subject is ranching, wildlife, fire, or the currently controversial mining activities in the watershed, the land will only be best managed when all the people and their interests in this beautiful landscape are taken into account.
I hope that in serving as chair of the CWP I can help people understand this important place in Arizona and its links to surrounding lands in terms of natural systems and the cultural and economic vitality of the region.
Header photo © by Michael McNulty / photos.mcnulty.net.