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Our River, Our Future

September 19 - 22, 2019, Silver City, NM

The Gila Conservation Coalition hosts the 15th annual Gila River Festival September 19-22, 2019 in Silver City, New Mexico and along the Gila River. Join us to explore the future of the Gila River in relation to the changing climate, as well as our responsibility to act as responsible earth stewards, with keynote speaker climate activist Tim DeChristopher and many renowned presenters.

The four-day festival will feature dynamic presentations and hands-on activities designed to foster a deeper intimacy with the Gila River, New Mexico’s last wild river and named America’s #1 Most Endangered River of 2019 by the organization American Rivers. Festival events include river outings, expert-led hikes and field trips, presentations, music, community art projects, and more.

The Festival draws 2,000 people annually and has grown in popularity every year since its inception in 2005.

“The Gila River Festival is a powerful way to bring people together around the importance of the Gila River and the need to protect it for everyone. We’ve got an exciting lineup of guest speakers, field trips and workshops. There is something fun and interesting for everyone,” says festival coordinator Donna Stevens.

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher will give the Gila River Festival keynote presentation, addressing our moral and ethical responsibility to safeguard the climate for fellow species and future human generations. DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison.  Held for a total of 21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government.  He has used this as a platform to spread the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold, confrontational action in order to create a just and healthy world.  DeChristopher used his prosecution as an opportunity to organize the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising in Salt Lake City, and most recently founded the Climate Disobedience Center.

The Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers will return to the Gila River Festival for the Gila River Extravaganza on Saturday, September 21.

Festival speakers include Sharman Apt Russell, a John Burroughs awardee for Distinguished Nature Writing and author of Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist. Russell will provide a historical survey of the philosophies and religious traditions from cultures around the world that have defined our relationship with the natural world.

San Carlos Apache Tribe youth activist Naelyn Pike, will discuss how the ways in which the Apache consider themselves an integral part of nature have compelled her people to defend the sacred Oak Flat (near Tucson) from a proposed mine that would be ecologically devastating. Youth plaintiff Akilah Sanders-Reed will speak to her experience in a New Mexico climate justice lawsuit based on the public trust doctrine of the U.S. Constitution and New Mexico state law.

Guggenheim Fellow landscape photographer Michael Berman will share his stories and photographs about wolves, Coues deer, snow leopards and the wild places on borders of Mexico and Mongolia.  His presentation will feature his new book Perdido about the Sierra San Luis, the wildest place on the Mexican border.   

Water law attorney and director of the University of New Mexico’s Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Adrian Oglesby, will talk about legal personhood status for rivers and nature, which courts have recently granted in New Zealand, Colombia, and India.

Panel discussions will address climate change impacts to rivers, landscape-scale conservation for climate resilience along the U.S.-Mexico Border, carbon sequestration, and youth perspectives on the need for climate action.

The festival provides opportunities for participants to experience wonder in their interactions with nature, as we offer a wide range of field trips, including fly fishing, kayaking and expert-led hikes to the Gila River and Gila National Forest, focusing on local cultural and natural history, such as archaeology, native plants, birds, and more. 

How can we rethink our relationship to the natural world and bring about positive action to mitigate the climate emergency? The festival will offer workshops on how to recalibrate our mindset to one of gratitude and abundance rather than materialism and overconsumption, as well as ways to take personal action to build climate resilience. 

Thank you to our major sponsors to date: Center for Biological Diversity, Lannan Foundation, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Western New Mexico University, and the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning.

To donate or become a sponsor please visit: https://www.gilariverfestival.org/sponsordonate/

For more details and registration, visit our website at: www.gilariverfestival.org or call us at 575-538-8078.

On-line registration begins July 1.

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Sun Oct 20 @ 2:00PM -
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Sun Oct 20 @ 3:30PM - 08:00AM
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Mon Oct 21 @10:00AM -
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Mon Oct 21 @11:00AM -
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Mon Oct 21 @11:30AM -
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Mon Oct 21 @12:05PM - 01:00PM
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Mon Oct 21 @ 4:00PM -
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