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In 1998, Phelps Dodge needed to get permits for its three Grant County copper mines under the new state Mining Act. At that time, public involvement in community environmental issues was challenging, often unwelcome, and sometimes threatening.

Some of us were concerned that without a strong community voice, the powerful Phelps Dodge would be able to walk away from its responsibility to clean up its Chino, Cobre and Tyrone mines, leaving our community with contaminated water, a degraded environment and no financial resources to clean up the mess.

A small group of citizens – Sally Smith, Harry Browne, CarolBeth Elliott and Michael Berman – stepped up to organize our community as a counter to Phelps Dodge in the permitting process. GRIP was ultimately successful in pushing the state to require $500 million in protective reclamation at the Chino, Cobre and Tyrone mines than the $100 million plan proposed by Phelps Dodge.

In addition to its Responsible Mining Program, GRIP advocates for sustainable management of our water resources, healthy rivers, protection of the Gila region from military training, community resilience and action on climate change.

Recognizing that human and environmental systems are inseparable and interdependent, GRIP pursues two goals: 1. To protect and nurture human communities by safeguarding the natural resources that sustain us all; 2. To safeguard natural resources by facilitating informed public participation in resource use decisions.

We work in communities, in the courts, and in the state legislature to protect community health, our environment and natural resources.


As an organization dedicated to promoting community health through protection of our environment and natural resources, GRIP is committed to achieving our mission in a just, equitable, fair and transparent manner. We strive to make our commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion evident in our board, staff, programs and coalition work. We pledge to continue to increase access to all underserved communities in our organization and work. We commit to continuous improvement in the implementation of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion principles in our organization and work in order to protect our environment, address the climate crisis, and create healthy communities for everyone.



Sally Smith


Co-founder and board president, Sally has devoted her adult life to building community with those whom she lives with and protecting watersheds she lives within.

Now retired, Sally is appreciating restoring her gardens and rock terraces after years of parenting and activism.


Harry Browne


Harry Browne – Co-founder and first executive director of GRIP, Harry is the Business Manager and one of the founders of Aldo Leopold Charter School. Harry serves as GRIP’s treasurer and secretary.


Michael Berman


Landscape photographer Michael Berman was born in New York City, studied biology at Colorado College where he began his love and wanderings through the desert southwest. A long-time resident of Grant County, Michael is a co-founder and board member of GRIP.

Board Member

David Rose

Board Member

David retired from the National Park Service and is a life-long supporter of conservation and progressive causes. Because every ecosystem needs a watch dog, David joined the GRIP board to ensure that southwest New Mexico’s environment is protected.

Board Member

Eduardo Arguello

Board Member

I’m retired from Chino Mine, and I joined GRIP to help the organization in their quest to keep and preserve the integrity of our environment and our essential ground water. Grant County is a special place to live and our mining communities’ residents deserve clean water and environment. Many of these residents have for many years worked hard in helping the mining companies realize vast profits.  In the late 1990s, I helped organize the Save the Kneeling Nun campaign to protect this sacred site from imminent destruction due to expansion of the Chino Mine.

Board Member

CarolBeth Elliott

Board Member
My focus is to protect the planet, wage peace, seek joy. Working as a co-founder and board member of GRIP is a means to these ends.



Allyson Siwik

, Executive Director

Since 2003, Allyson has served as the executive director of the Gila Resources Information Project. She is also the director of the Gila Conservation Coalition that works to protect the free flow of the Gila River. Allyson graduated with a BA in biology from Colby College and a Master of Environmental Management in Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University School of the Environment.  She has nearly 30 years of experience in environmental protection, conservation, and advocacy, including 12 years with the US Environmental Protection Agency in North Carolina and El Paso, TX. She has worked extensively with local communities in the borderlands to resolve environmental problems, including binational air quality management, mining environmental impacts, water quality and water supply concerns, and community-wide initiatives on climate change and sustainability.  She has served on several local, state and federal boards including, the Good Neighbor Environmental Board that advises the President and Congress on U.S.-Mexico Border environmental and infrastructure issues.

Emily Cox

, Pick It Up-Toss No Mas Coordinator / Gila Earth Day Coordinator

As the Silver City Pick It Up-Toss No Mas Coordinator, Emily hopes to encourage younger students to join the fight to restore our community’s natural environment and help keep Silver City free of unnecessary litter. She also coordinates the annual Gila Earth Day event held every April in Gough Park. Emily is currently a student at Western New Mexico University and is working hard to obtain a degree in Sustainable Development with a focus in Environmental Science. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, learning about plants, and spending lots of time near the Gila River. Emily has been an intern for GRIP on the New Mexico Clean and Beautiful project helping to restore the beauty of the Big Ditch Park. She has also done work with Upper Gila Watershed Alliance teaching water quality monitoring for the Children’s Water Festival and aiding in their New Earth Project.
Corina (1)

Corina Castillo

, Development and Communications Associate

As a Development and Communications Associate, Corina manages donor relations for GRIP and the Gila Conservation Coalition and spearheads social media and promotions for the Gila River Festival. Born and raised in the Mining District, Corina has a special connection to the Gila and the surrounding area. She went to school in Arizona and graduated with a degree in Health Sciences from Arizona State University. She hopes the work she does with GRIP will encourage local representation from Hispanics and those from the Mining District in matters of conservation.

Scott Zager

, GIS Specialist

A professional botanist and plant ecologist for over twenty-five years, Scott has surveyed vegetation across large, wild landscapes and has constructed ecological maps using a combination of techniques including GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software, remote sensing (air photo interpretation), and field investigation. As a GIS specialist for GRIP, Scott is providing GIS mapping and conducting biological surveys for GRIP’s Silver City Watershed restoration work. He is also creating interactive, online maps where local citizens can monitor sensitive environmental sites and record their observations in real time. Such mapping applications can potentially coordinate the activities of several volunteer, citizen-scientists, in efforts to protect our environment.
Beth Medium

Beth Cable

, Silver City Watershed Keepers Project Coordinator

As the Silver City Watershed Keepers Project Coordinator, Beth aims to connect the community of Silver City with its watershed through working with volunteers on water quality sampling and educational programs in classrooms and out in the field, while conserving and preserving our precious natural resource – water. Beth has a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University and an MS in Teaching and Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming. She has completed environmental assessment studies, including breeding birds, raptors, and rare plants for Western Ecosystems Technology, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and Point Reyes Bird Observatory. She has also designed, developed, and implemented natural science curricula for elementary, middle, and high school students, both outdoors and through outreach programs. She has created water teaching toolboxes, organized the Wyoming State Science Fair, and taught life science to elementary education pre-service teachers. She also teaches yoga and has dabbled in organic farming and home health care. She moved to Silver City in 2021 and enjoys trail running, hiking, and the great outdoors.

2022 Gila Resources Information Project

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