Joel Sartore ~ National Geographic Photographer

Valley Forward Hosts National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore

Why should humans curtail economic activity to preserve endangered forms of life? The question needs answering for each new generation despite the fact the Endangered Species Act has been in place for 36 years now.

World-renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore notes in his newest book that nearly 2,000 plants and animals are listed as endangered species. This doesn’t even account for those that are already extinct.

Forty Arizonan species are endangered or threatened under federal law, meaning they are close enough to extinction to necessitate protection. Arizona is losing its native wildlife. As animals ourselves, this should make us very nervous.

Sartore’s book, Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, started as a personal project and grew into a three-year effort to document everything from grizzly bears to endangered flies. Rare includes portraits of some of the country’s most endangered creatures. Some of them are likely to go extinct without people ever knowing they existed. This thought-provoking picture book shows the reality of the Earth’s vanishing biodiversity and what we stand to lose if we don’t act now.

Biodiversity produces the food we eat and the air we breathe. It also filters our water, controls disease and maintains our climate. The impact of losing native species is profound. Every mammal, bird, fish, reptile and invertebrate native to the state of Arizona is ultimately at risk as rivers continue to dry up, forests vanish from wildfires and drought, and desert habitats are turned into urban landscapes.

Despite the somber topic of extinction, Sartore’s book manages not only to present the beauty of some of the last members of animals and plant species in the world, but also to inspire readers. The last chapter of the book showcases animals that have started to come back from brink of total extinction through conservation programs, such as the bald eagle, the gray wolf and the California Condor.

Thus, the good news is that there is still time. However, we each need to do our part to save these unique creatures — and ultimately, ourselves. By pledging to reduce, reuse, recycle and greening our own lifestyles and business practices, we can take the first step towards helping to save species from being lost forever.

Arizona is privileged to be hosting Sartore as the keynote speaker at Valley Forward’s 41st  Annual Luncheon held on Dec. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail or call (602) 240-2408.

Diane Brossart is president of the Valley Forward Association.

Photo via


About Diane Brossart

Diane Brossart has a longtime connection with Valley Forward Association, having first joined the non-profit public interest organization 20 years ago. Brossart served on the Valley Forward Board of Directors for several years and was named President of the association in 1991. As President, Brossart oversees a staff of four and manages a host of committees, which focus on such issues as land use planning and desert preservation, transportation and air quality, water concerns and environmental education. Under Brossart's leadership, Valley Forward has received widespread recognition for its role in addressing environmental and quality of life issues in the Valley. Awards include an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9; Award of Distinction from the Western Mountain Region of the American Institute of Architects; and first-place honors from the City of Phoenix Mayor's Environmental Awards Program. Brossart also received the Phoenix Award from the Public Relations Society of America's Phoenix Chapter in 2008, in addition to the 2009 Champion of Sustainability Award through the Phoenix Business Journal's Green Pioneers program. She is also involved as a member of several civic organizations, including the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Valley Partnership, Friends of the West Valley Recreation Corridor and Phoenix Community Alliance. Prior to her work with Valley Forward, Brossart was Vice President of one of the Valley's largest public relations agencies, serving as a marketing consultant to Valley Forward and several commercial accounts. Brossart received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University in 1979 and began her professional career as a reporter for a daily newspaper in metropolitan Detroit.