Our Mission

Friends of the Tonto National Forest is a group of volunteers who assist the Forest in its critical mission of natural and cultural resource and visitor use management. We promote public understanding of the Tonto National Forest’s policies, programs and projects.

Sears-Kay Ruin Open House

Presented by Cave Creek District of the Tonto National Forest and FRIENDS OF THE TONTO NATIONAL FOREST

Sunday March 7, 2021 – This free event will begin at 9AM with guided tours of the ruins at 10AM and 1PM by retired Tonto National Forest Archaeologist Scott Wood.

Per FOTNF and USFS COVID protocols, participants must wear masks.

Ancient Hohokam Indians fortified this hilltop during the late 1000s, building massive walls of stone around its upper levels. As many as 100 people may have occupied its 40 masonry rooms until the late 1100s or early 1200s, when they abandoned the Desert Foothills in favor of the better agricultural opportunities of the 7 Springs area.

Centuries later the site was used in the 1860s by the US Army in its campaign against the Apache and Yavapai. It got its name from the nearby Sears-Kay Ranch which was founded in 1887. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and developed for visitation and interpretation by the Tonto National Forest, Sears-Kay Ruin can be found just off the Seven Springs Road (Forest Road 24) 6 miles east of Carefree, Arizona which is about 30 miles north of Scottsdale, AZ.

Milkweed for Monarchs

This project is part of a multi-year program to create monarch butterfly habitat on the Tonto National Forest. It supports nationwide efforts. Milkweed is the required diet for monarch larvae – read about the monarch’s incredible life cycle at here.

Seedlings were grown by Friends volunteers using FOTNF-collected desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata) seeds from naturally occurring populations along Bush Highway. In mid-November, the milkweed seedlings were planted at Wildcat Staging Area on the Cave Creek Ranger District and Phon D. Sutton recreation site on the Mesa Ranger District. 50 milkweed seedlings at each site.
The Home Depot at Tatum and Bell Road in Phoenix generously donated hardware cloth to protect the seedlings from herbivore depredation, garden soil and other materials for planting the seedling milkweeds. Thank you, April!!

We will be watering through next summer and welcome everyone’s help. Watering is a critical part of success of this project!

Sign up to water!

Buffelgrass and Fountain Grass Free Zone

We made great progress on the Grass Free Zone during the Fall of 2020 and will continue during the Spring of 2021. This is a great way to get outside, enjoy the open space and make a difference.  Everyone brings their own gloves and a face mask.  Wearing a face mask will be requested any time we are unable to maintain ‘social distancing’.

All the planned dates are included on the registration form, but just select the dates you are planning to attend now.  The form will be available for later submissions.  We meet at the Jacobs Crosscut/Massacre Grounds Trailhead parking lot on First Water Road at 8:00 AM. We will finish in time to be back at the parking area by noon. Google map directions to Trailhead.   Learn more.

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Meet Susan Sridharan, Friends’ Board Treasurer

Susan was born in Detroit, Michigan and trained in both botany and accounting. She lived in places as varied as Chicago, India, and London, Ontario. After she retired from a Detroit-area accounting firm in 2016, Susan moved to Arizona. She developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Sonoran Desert while hiking with her local hiking group. An avid birder, Susan is a volunteer at Wild At Heart, a raptor rescue in Cave Creek.

Susan discovered the Friends of the Tonto at a Sears-Kay Open House in 2017. Since then she has taken part in milkweed planting, invasive plants training and the Riparian Photopoint project. Susan was impressed with the dedication of Friends’ volunteers and the importance of their projects. Therefore, she gladly volunteered for a position on the Board as Treasurer.

Get to know others who serve on the Friends’ Board

Upcoming Events

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