I was a founding member of the Arizona Grazing Clearinghouse, which was formed in the early 1990s by a group of Arizona environmental activists interested in promoting public lands grazing reform. It included individuals and some representatives from local conservation groups, but had no official organization or membership criteria. We met periodically to brainstorm at the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club’s old headquarters building in downtown Phoenix.
Our activities included submitting comments in response to livestock management proposals issued by local public land managers, and writing editorials and articles for newspapers, periodicals, and conservation group newsletters. Sometimes we also organized field trips and hosted public workshops. Our members also served on local advisory panels. In fact, in 1998 I was appointed to the local Rangeland Resource Team (RRT) subcommittee of the Arizona BLM’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC).
We started to drift apart in the late 1990s, as most groups do, and we eventually quit having in-person meetings. Then in April 2013 ASU Law Professor Joe Feller, one of the group’s primary and founding members, died after being hit by a car while jogging. I resolved to resurrect the spirit of the Arizona Grazing Clearinghouse while attending his memorial service. Joe isn’t the only one from the group that’s gone. Mike Seidman passed away in 2002, and Frank Welsh in 2017. Attorney Gil Venable succumbed to a long and debilitating illness in 2019. There may be others.
If any of them are watching from the great beyond, I hope they approve of this website. – Jeff Burgess