Arizona Land and Water Trust protects Southern Arizona’s vanishing western landscapes, its farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, and the waters that sustain them. In addition to our role as land steward, we also support programs that carry out our purpose, including appropriate legislation, public education and outreach. We believe the preservation of Southern Arizona’s landscapes and ecosystems to be vital to the well-being of all residents, present and future.
Since 1987, we have protected nearly 49,000 acres through conservation easements, donations and fee acquisition. In 1985 the Trust was instrumental in establishing legislation in Arizona enabling conservation easements.
The Trust is part of a growing movement of land trusts across the nation, which are in general responsive to an entrepreneurial approach to protecting the land. We work with willing landowners, municipalities and other organizations to protect resources through acquisition and donation. Due to our small size, expertise and a diversely talented board of directors, the Trust can expeditiously pursue protection opportunities that may be more difficult for larger organizations or agencies.
Liz Petterson, Executive Director – As a Tucson native I have always had a deep connection to the Sonoran Desert. Weekend drives with my family throughout Southern Arizona anchored my interest in this Sky Island region. After receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology I worked for the Soil & Water Conservation Districts providing conservation resources for landowners. I joined the Trust in 2007 as Land and Water Program Manager and became Executive Director in 2011.
Cameron Becker, Project Assistant – I am a fourth generation Tucsonan and I grew up exploring and enjoying the outdoors from the sky islands down to the Sea of Cortez. My work with the Trust allows me the opportunity to make a difference in these open spaces and working landscapes. I couldn’t ask to work with a better team of people who share my passion for conserving the legacy and resources that make our community such an amazing place to live.
Jill Medlow, Development Coordinator – I joined the Trust in 2014 because of my love for our western landscapes. As an outgrowth of my move from New York City to Tucson, I developed a very deep appreciation for our desert home. I practiced as an attorney for a number of years and contributing to this amazing team in a development capacity has been a very natural fit because we all want to expand our conservation imprint on the landscape tenfold through our partnerships.
John Barrett, Land and Water Program Director – After spending many years living in other parts of the country, I was happy to return to my hometown of Tucson and join the Arizona Land and Water Trust in 2017. I have seen the cities in southern Arizona grow, and understand that expanding urban areas can pressure rural communities and strain natural resources. The Trust responds to urbanization with collaborative solutions that protect the region’s biodiversity and respect the ranching traditions of the American Southwest. As a former attorney, I also appreciate the Trust’s emphasis on partnership and enjoy helping the organization strengthen its relationships landowners, government agencies, conservation professionals and dedicated supporters.
Janelle Gaun, Project Assistant – As a native Arizonan, I have always been fascinated by the unique beauty of our state’s landscapes, from tiny desert springs to snow-capped peaks. I started with the Arizona Land and Water Trust in 2017 and I am excited to help the Trust continue developing collaborative conservation solutions in southern Arizona. With a background in hydrology, I am particularly interested in finding innovative partnerships to preserve desert waters and the communities they sustain