The intimate connection between land and water is often discussed in academic circles but not well integrated into land use and water management policy and practice at the local level. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP) and the Sonoran Institute (SI) asked ICS to help change that. In 2016, ICS was commissioned to guide the launch of a new water center and a cooperative, joint-venture program in the Colorado River Basin. That effort resulted in the launch of Lincoln Institute’s Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, announced on May 2, 2017, and a LILP/SI joint venture—Resilient Communities and Watersheds—focused on integrating land use and water policy at the local level in the Colorado River Basin.
“It’s been said that water is the new oil, and if we want to ensure that future generations have adequate supplies, we have to understand the intimate connection between land and water,” said George W. “Mac” McCarthy, President and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP). ICS Principal Scott Campbell added: “Around the globe, there is a fundamental lack of integration between land-use planning and water management; yet land is the medium through which our water resources are managed—knowingly or unknowingly, wisely or unwisely, sustainably or without regard for the future. Most all of our water problems are land-use based.”
The Center, which will be based in Phoenix, is named for Bruce Babbitt, former Arizona governor, Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton, and longtime board member of LILP. Jim Holway, former director of the LILP/SI joint Western Lands and Communities program and former assistant director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, will serve as the Center’s first director.
“I am honored to be associated with this initiative and vision,” said Bruce Babbitt. “The Lincoln Institute has emphasized the importance of land and land policy in addressing the world’s toughest problems, and the stewardship of water resources is at the top of the list. We all need to be aware of the connection between water and land.” “It’s a two-way street,” added McCarthy. “How we plan and use land has an impact on water, and water availability has an increasing impact on how we can use land. We seek to bridge these two worlds to better meet the needs of people, agriculture, and nature.”
The Lincoln Institute is a private operating foundation whose mission is to be a leading center for the study of land policy and land-related tax policy throughout the world. The mission of the Sonoran Institute, which serves the Intermountain West, is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. LILP and SI have partnered for 11 years assisting western communities in applying pioneering approaches to the challenges associated with growth, economic development, climate change, and natural resource management.