From Audubon New Mexico’s Southwest Women in Conservation 2014 conference program:
Ella Jaz Kirk (1999-2014) was a lover of wild places, an aquatics expert on a Youth Conservation Ecological Monitoring team in Silver City, and a vocal activist for keeping the Gila River in New Mexico flowing free.
Ella was born in New Hampshire and learned to love water in the cold lakes, rivers, and oceans of New England. She grew up in southwestern New Mexico and lived and played in the upper reaches of the Gila River throughout her childhood. She was an avid learner of the flora and fauna, with a special interest in butterflies.
Ella created two petitions; one to the Interstate Stream Commission and one to Governor Martinez that together constituted over 7,000 signatures and comments imploring our state leaders to keep the Gila River free of any diversion. As part of this effort, she testified in Santa Fe this past February on the senate floor in favor of Senate Bill 89, which would have prohibited any settlement money being used for a diversion.
Ella was an accomplished musician and a prolific writer of music, fiction, prose and academically she recently penned a paper exploring the commoditization and the future sustainability of water resources in the desert southwest. Ella planned to earn a doctorate degree in Aquatic Ecology and apply her research to saving wild places. Ella’s passing is a loss for all of us; her love and appreciation of beauty, her ability to articulate the pressing issues we are all facing, and her embodiment of hope for the future is what we honor today.
“All I ask of you, is to consider what a diversion would do, consider the opinions of the people in this state who don’t want a diversion, who would rather have a free-flowing river, that is home to wildlife, farmers, and regular citizens trying to make a life in New Mexico, than a sole trickle of water in a bone-dry desert, an evaporating reservoir, and our tax-payer money down the drain. Please, regard our opinions as citizens, as people who are invested in the future, as humans who want to make an effort to conserve.” – Ella Jaz Kirk, 2013, in a letter to ISC commissioners