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.

Looking for Riparian Photopoint Volunteers!

The photopoint project collects repeat photographs of riparian areas to tell a story. Photopoint season is from the beginning of April to the end of June. And we need volunteers! You don’t need a special camera, a GPS unit or a four-wheel drive vehicle. Most smart phones have great cameras and apps that will read out GPS coordinates. A four-wheel drive vehicle may be necessary for some sites. If you like to get out, or if you need a good excuse to get out – here’s your opportunity!

Learn more and sign up!

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 entrance Lost Dutchman State Park at 7:00 AM. We will finish in time to be back at the parking area by noon. Google map directions to Trailhead.   Learn more.

Sign up to help!

Meet Patti Fenner, Executive Director

Despite moving to Arizona in the summer, at the tender age of 2 in an un-airconditioned station wagon, Patti Fenner chose a career working in the outdoors. She earned a degree in Botany at ASU. Then, to put the botany degree to practical use, went on to a Master’s program in Natural Resource Management. As she graduated in 1980, the Tonto National Forest created a new Range Conservationist job on the Cave Creek Ranger District. The job was created in part because of a lawsuit by the Audubon Society to improve grazing management along the Salt and Verde Rivers. Patti worked as a Range/Watershed staff for 23 years.

In 2003, Patti was offered the chance to create the Tonto’s first Invasive Plant program. This was undoubtedly the best job on the Forest! She spent hours discovering infestations and mapping them across the entire Forest. After mapping, she worked with District personnel, volunteers, other agencies, and contractors to control them.

Patti has served as President and on the board of the statewide invasive plant organization, SW Vegetation Management Association. She is currently on a committee who worked to revise Arizona’s Invasive Weed Rule.

Patti retired in 2014, and, unable to kick the habit of work, created Friends of the Tonto National Forest. Working with the brilliant and creative people on the Friends’ board is one of the great joys of her life (the others being her husband and friend, Scott Wood, son, daughter-in-law, and 4-year-old grandson).

Get to know others who serve on the Friends’ Board

Upcoming Events

Volunteer on the Tonto National Forest

Become a Member

The best way to support Friends of the Tonto National Forest is to become a member.


Learn more about all the ways you can donate to Friends of the Tonto National Forest!