10th Annual Gila River Festival: Celebrating America’s First Wilderness River

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September 18- 21, 2014

Schedule: Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday

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The 10th annual Gila River Festival – Celebrating America’s First Wilderness River – planned in and around Silver City, September 18 – 21, 2014, will commemorate two momentous wilderness milestones. Across the country, conservationists will honor the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary. In southwest New Mexico, we’ll also celebrate the Gila Wilderness Area’s 90th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the Gila River Festival. As America’s first wilderness river, the Gila’s verdant thread of life weaves through these celebrations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the Southwest’s premier nature festivals, the Gila River Festival attracts an audience of nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts eager to learn about and experience the Gila’s natural wonders. Festival attendees will enjoy a variety of expert-guided field trips in the Gila National Forest and along the Gila River, a keynote talk by author and conservationist Dave Foreman, presentations by Western New Mexico University Professor Emeritus of Biology Dr. Dale Zimmerman, historian Stephen Fox, naturalist Mike Fugagli, and The Nature Conservancy’s Martha Cooper; Gila River photography by award-winning landscape photographer Michael Berman; a water wheel ceremony; kayaking; wilderness films; Gala for the Gila, featuring live music by the Roadrunners; a downtown art walk and more.


Tony Bonanno, 2004

New Mexico native son, writer and conservationist Dave Foreman will return to this year’s festival to speak about the intrinsic value of wilderness and the history of the Gila Wilderness Area. As the keynote speaker at the 2009 Gila River Festival, Foreman attracted an enthusiastic, standing room-only crowd. It would be difficult to find someone more eloquent than Foreman to speak to the necessity of wild lands and free-flowing rivers.

Historian and writer Stephen Fox will give a presentation on the fascinating story of the Wilderness Act, which turns 50 in 2014. Complementing his talk is a showing of the film Wild By Law, the compelling story behind the Wilderness Act, and others about the significance of wilderness and the nation’s first wilderness area, the Gila Wilderness.

Participants can attend an all-day event to build a water wheel on the Gila River. These circular, mandala-like structures are being built worldwide by people concerned about their local rivers and watersheds. Native New Mexican Brett Myrick and Flordemayo, one of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, will guide this creation designed to bless and protect the Gila River. Sister Joan Brown of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light will close this year’s festival by leading a blessing of the Gila River at the newly-constructed water wheel. She will also speak about “Wild Grace” at the Sunday brunch.

Black-chin nest GilaR,31May03-medium

Dale Zimmerman

Distinguished ornithologist, botanist, lepidopterist, photographer, and bird illustrator,Dr. Dale Zimmerman will give a presentation on the hummingbirds of the Gila. Ornithologist and naturalist Mike Fugagli will talk about the effect of a Gila River diversion on native bird populations. Audubon New Mexico will lead a special birding field trip to the Gila Bird area.

Writer Sharman Apt Russell will give a reading from her new book, Diary of a Citizen Scientist, to be released this fall. Martha S. Cooper presents information from The Nature Conservancy’s new Gila River Flow Needs Assessment.

Festival participants can celebrate New Mexico’s last free-flowing river at the Gala for the Gila fundraiser to benefit the Gila Conservation Coalition’s efforts to protect the Gila River. This special evening will be held at Little Toad Creek Inn and Brewery in downtown Silver City. Dance the night away to the music of The Roadrunners and enjoy special Gila River libations.

Jay Hemphill

Jay Hemphill

Carrying on festival tradition, we will offer guided hikes, covering such topics as wilderness, birding, geology, native plants, rock art, and fly fishing. Again this year, we’ll host the ever-popular Gila River kayak trip, and the Gila River bus tour will be back by popular demand. The Monsoon Puppet Theater will lead another colorful Gila River Festival parade through downtown Silver City with handmade puppets and masks celebrating the Gila’s diversity of wildlife.

The full festival schedule is available at www.gilaconservation.org. For more information, contact the Gila Conservation Coalition at 575.538.8078 or info@gilaconservation.org.

Thanks to our sponsors who have made the 10th annual Gila River Festival possible!

Major Sponsors:

American Rivers ~ Anonymous ~ Audubon NM Western Rivers Action Network ~ Center for Biological Diversity ~ Dennis Weller Photography ~ EZ Does It Ranch ~ Gila Haven ~ Gila Mimbres Community Radio – KURU ~ Gila Native Plant Society ~ McCune Charitable Foundation ~ Heartpath-Meyoni ~ High Lonesome Books ~ Murray Hotel ~ New Mexico Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities ~ Pitchfork Ranch ~ Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club ~ Seedboat Center for the Arts ~ Silver City Museum ~ Western New Mexico University New Media iDEA Lab


Ann McMahon Photography www.annmcmahon.com ~ Axle Canyon Ecological Preserve ~ Bob Garrett & Mary Hotvedt ~ Bob Wilson & Lisa Houston ~ Carol Morrison & Larry McLaud ~ Cissy McAndrew, United Country Mimbres Realty, EcoBroker™ & GREEN Realtor™ ~ Elisabeth H. Simon ~ Far Flung Adventures ~ Mary Burton Riseley ~ Mimbres Region Arts Council ~ New Mexico Wilderness Alliance ~ Robert Pittman & Kathleen Wigley ~ Sierra Club Southern New Mexico Group ~ Single Socks — A Community Thrift Store ~ Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce ~ Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society ~ T & E, Inc. ~ Western Institute for Lifelong Learning


Alotta Gelato ~ Bear Creek Herbs ~ Conservation By Design ~ Conservation Voters New Mexico–Education Fund ~ Curious Kumquat ~ David Rose & Ceil Murray ~ Diane Cornelius ~ First New Mexico Bank ~ Guadalupe’s ~ Lone Mountain Native Plant Nursery ~ Morning Star ~ O’Keefe’s Bookshop ~ Pauline & Richard Matthews ~ Prudential Silver City Properties ~ Regalos de la Tierra Pottery Co. ~ Ron Henry ~ Ronald Parry ~ Sharyn McDonald ~ Silver Architects ~ Silver City Food Co-op ~ Stream Dynamics, Inc. ~ Summit Technical, Inc. ~ Syzygy Tile ~ TheraSpeech ~ Thomas & Consuelo Hester ~ Vicki Allen, LISW, Individual, Child and Couples Therapist ~ W. Jay Garard, DDS ~ Wentz Electric Co., L.L.C.