Wall of Honor
The Cienega Watershed Partnership honors…
Born in Philadelphia, 13-year-old John Donaldson first came to Tucson to attend the Arizona Desert School, a ranch school for boys. It was an experience that influenced the course of his life. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he graduated from the University of Arizona, specializing in agriculture and range management.
His ranching career began with the lease of the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson. Over the years, he owned ranches in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1975, when Anamax Mining Corporation purchased the Empire Ranch, they consulted with John and subsequently entered into a lease agreement with him to manage ranching operations.
After the BLM acquired the Empire Ranch in 1988, they asked John and his son Mac to continue ranching at the Empire under a grazing lease, which they did for the next 20 years, thus continuing the legacy of care for the land that is the backbone of the Cienega Watershed.
Rancher, environmentalist and large-than-life figure, Jake Kittle knew everybody and everybody knew him. Jake was born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County, CA. He attended college at Yale in 1949, but transferred to the U of A, where he received a degree in animal husbandry. Over the years, he owned and operated the Muleshoe Ranch north of Benson, as well as ranches in Wyoming, California, and Show Low, Arizona.
After living in Jackson, Wyoming, for a number of years, Jake returned to Arizona with his dogs and chickens, first to Sonoita and then to a house on a hill in Patagonia.
Jake served on the board of the Sonoran Institute, and was actively involved with the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association, Sonoita Crossroads Forum, and Southeast Arizona Land Trust. He helped establish the Empire Ranch Foundation, and was instrumental in the formation of the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership and an active participant in its early work, creating Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.
Born and raised in eastern South Dakota, Joe volunteered to serve in the Navy during World War II right out of high school. After his service, he attended the University of South Dakota and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
In 1956, Joe came to Arizona to take over the operation of then 495-acre Colossal Cave Park. This was the first such arrangement in the country, where a private individual administered an entire park as operator, not concessionaire. In 1987 he joined with three others to found and incorporate the Pima County Parklands Foundation, whose mission is to protect and enhance the parks of Pima County, Arizona. He served on the Board for several years, and remained Director Emeritus until his death. In 2005, the Maierhausers were given the Sonoran Institute’s Faces of Conservation Cele Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Joe’s enduring legacy is 51 years of preservation and protection of Colossal Cave Mountain Park. During his tenure, the Park was expanded from its original 495 acres to over 2,000 acres, and was named a National Historic District. Today, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is the cornerstone of the Cienega Corridor region east of Tucson, and an important link in the Cienega Watershed.
Mike was born and raised in New York City and fell in love with nature at summer camps in upstate New York. He obtained a degree in Philosophy with an emphasis on people’s relationship with and response to nature.
Mike moved to Arizona in the early 1970s. He worked for the Humane Society and then spent 30 years at the Arizona Zoological Society and the Phoenix Zoo specializing in Arizona native ecologies. He later became the Zoo’s conservation officer.
Even when not on the job, Mike was engaged with nature. He was active with the Grazing Clearinghouse and served on the board of directors of both the Arizona Wilderness Coalition and Sky Island Alliance. He was active with the Arizona Riparian Council and the Middle Gila Conservation Partnership. He engaged with BLM shortly after they acquired the Empire Ranch and spent the rest of his life working with the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership.
Mike brought knowledge, integrity, and passion to the projects, discussions, and debate, never wavering in his belief that we should conduct our affairs in ways that are respectful of, and do no harm to, the natural system we are dependent upon.
Stephen Wood, d. 2009
For the last fifteen years of his life, Stephen Wood dedicated his life to the Arizona Trail, first as part of the Southern Arizona Mountain Biking Association (SAMBA) which signed on as the stewards of the Santa Rita Mountains segment. When SAMBA moved on, Stephen took on the steward responsibilities, which he fulfilled for nine years.
A work trip for Stephen was not easy, as he didn’t own a vehicle and would rent a pickup truck to haul tools and workers. However, he did five or six work trips a year to keep up with needed maintenance, with a core of followers who rarely missed a trip. Stephen had ownership of his ATZ segment, and expected the workers to do it his way. Bernie Stalmann, who worked with Stephen, recalls, “…he laid out the tools all ready to go—sharp and clean. He then explained how to use each one—safely…. If he had a new worker, he would spend time one-on-one to ensure that you know what needed done and how to do it.“
Stephen preferred to work hard and without fanfare. His commitment should be an inspiration to those who come after him, working on the Arizona Trail.
Resident and landowner along Davidson Canyon and actively involved in the barrel racing and horse training world for many years, Charlotte Cook is familiar with the concerns of ranchers as well as environmentalists.
Charlotte is passionate about protection of the Cienega Watershed, and is a dedicated steward in the region. She was actively involved in obtaining the ADEQ designation of “Outstanding Water” for a section of the Davidson Canyon and she was also instrumental in Pima County Flood Control re-mapping of an Important Riparian Area along the Davidson Canyon in order to include additional resources.
Charlotte embodies the importance of citizen science and on-the-ground volunteerism. She volunteers with the Empire Fagan Coalition, where she has held numerous positions in the organization. It’s been said that there were times when she almost singlehandedly kept it going. She also volunteers with the Vail Preservation Society conducting genealogical research for the greater Vail area, is a volunteer tracker in the Sky Island Alliance wildlife linkages program, and has provided volunteer office support to the Center for Biological Diversity. She is part of a partnership effort to maintain the Arizona National Trail Segment from the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead to Sahuarita Road.
Jeff Williamson is a long-time, dedicated ecologist and collaborator in the Cienega Watershed. He was an early member of the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership and worked tirelessly in the creation of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. A founding member of the Cienega Watershed Partnership, Jeff helped shape its mission and programs. He has served as board member, vice-chairman, and treasurer. He now sits on the CWP Advisory Council.
Jeff represents the Watershed in meetings, forums, and work groups ranging from local to national, dealing with regional landscape management and addressing issues such as restoration, habitat corridors, land trusts, native species. He is a leader in ensuring an ecosystem approach in land use planning, aiding us to consider impacts to systems through creative methods such as climate change scenarios. To all, he brings his perspective that we ought to be collaborative, think large-scale about watersheds, and commit to and complete on-the-ground projects.
Jeff’s contribution to the Watershed can at minimum be measured in hours and miles: all the while living in Phoenix, he donated thousands of each in the Watershed to ensure that it is sustained, its resources protected, and the ongoing values of the lands he loves be continued.