Conservation Conversation at the Annual Meeting

Diablo Trust held our 24th Annual Meeting on Friday, February 17th, 2017, at Thornager’s on Kiltie Lane in Flagstaff, AZ. Over 50 people attended the meeting throughout the morning, ranging from agency officials to NAU students - it is through that type of diversity we were founded and continue to succeed in promoting collaborative land management and advocating progressive cattle ranching.

Diablo Trust Board President Norm Lowe delivering the welcoming remarks.

The morning started with a welcome from Diablo Trust President Norm Lowe and then, as always, with introductions around the room. This is a Diablo Trust tradition that won’t be quickly lost; despite how long it might take, knowing who else is in the room is vital to a strong and successful collaborative process.

Next were our Collaborators’ Reports, updates from key players in the field of land and resource management in Diablo Country and throughout Northern Arizona. These speakers were:

Not an empty seat in the house!

These updates, while short, were quite informative when it came to past successes, future goals, and general news from the field, like calves born on the ranches or new technologies being tested for greater ease in land management (like new rain gauges). Jackie Holm, from the ASLD, even had a few pictures to demonstrate what type of monitoring she leads (see our calendar for FRSG Monitoring outings in late March).

A special recognition of thanks was presented to Steven Cassady, of the AGFD, for his unending support of the Diablo Trust and the ranches; so much of our goals could not be accomplished without his assistance and leadership.

After a short coffee break we resumed the meeting with four featured presenters:

Most of the positive remarks about the Meeting were directed towards these four presentations; not only did the four conservation experts tie their talks together in a fluid, cohesive manner, but each presentation was both unique and familiar to so many in the audience – regardless how much one might know about conservation in the American Southwest (or anywhere in the world), there is always more to learn, and Chris, Tom, Randy, and Craig taught us all so much.

First up was Chris Paris, who focused his talk on his ongoing work to eliminate lead bullets from the hunting world in order to further protect and grow the California condor population, as well as a plethora of other wildlife who would be affected by such poison. Diablo Trust is planning a field trip to the Vermilion Cliffs in late March to see these magnificent birds and learn more about Chris’ work with hunters and other conservationists.

Tom Mackin, Diablo Trust Wildlife Committee Chair, presenting on the basics of conservation.

Tom Mackin gave a short presentation on what conservation means to different people, and how it is executed in the community and on the land. While not going in-depth, Tom did frame the concept very well for those in the audience who might not be as familiar with conservation and environmental work as others.

A newcomer to Diablo Trust, Randy Babb presented on what are commonly called “watchable wildlife,” as opposed to “game animals.” The former category includes bats, rabbits, rodents, insectivores like the desert shrew, and small carnivores like foxes; the latter group are the more common creatures one might think of when exploring a forest: elk, deer, antelope, and other hunted animals. This presentation was one of the most engaging for most of the audience, learning about the unique coloration of jackrabbits or the vicious habits of desert mice.

The final presenter was Craig McMullen, who gave a background of the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation. This historic model, developed over many years by many influential people around the turn of the 20th century, is used around the world as an effective and successful way to limit waste and enhance the efforts of conservationists.

The Q&A with the four featured presenters.

The last event of the morning was a half-hour Q&A session with the four presenters. While most of the exchange concerned the presence of lead in hunting and fishing, other questions included whether the “watchable wildlife” that Randy discussed were welcomed on the ranches, and what people could do to promote conservation, especially if they weren’t already intimately engaged through ranching, hunting, and other activities. In short: the animals are appreciated and allowed, but not always ‘welcomed’ as friends (just ask the prairie dogs), and supporting both local and national conservation groups is probably the best way to support conservation.

Diablo Trust is one of those organizations – a group dedicated to education, collaboration, and conservation. This Annual Meeting was a prime example of what we support and promote in the community.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and see you on the land!