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.

Superstition Mountains Project

NEWS FLASH! The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management – 2021 Invasive Plant Grant Program has selected the Friends’ Superstition Mountains Invasive Plant Removal project for grant funding of $65,000! This means an expanded project area and additional opportunities for you to help coming soon.

Welcome back! We look forward to seeing you in the field!

Friends of the Tonto have more activities planned for the Superstition Mountains Project during the 2021/2022 season.  In addition to continuing with the removal events every 2nd and 4th Saturdays from October through April,  we will be mapping and monitoring.  Monitoring and mapping will start with the zones where we previously held removal projects. We will map new zones to add to the project area.

First, to participate in any Superstition Mountains event, sign a Superstition Mountains Liability Waiver form. Once you sign the liability waiver, it is valid for the season.  Second, it is important that you become familiar with the safety requirements which can be seen here Safety Analysis.

Removal Events

You can easily complete the required registration for each of the removal events at Removal Event Registration. Events are planned for every 2nd and 4th Saturday from October through April. We meet at different times and locations as shown in the event registration form. Additional dates will be added to the registration form as soon as the locations are determined.

Mapping and Monitoring

Mapping and monitoring is a great way to get outside and explore on your own schedule.  With the addition of the Superstition Fire area, we are asking for more volunteers to participate in this ongoing activity.  We’ll use ArcGIS Field Maps which is a free app for your smart device.  There are 4 species of non-native plants we’ll be monitoring — fountain grass, buffelgrass, stinknet and sahara mustard. Depending on the time of year, they are quite easy to learn to recognize.  Since the plants are seasonal, there will be an opportunity and need to cover the same territory multiple times. 

You may attend either of the Field Map Training Sessions on Wednesday, September 29 or Saturday, October 2.  Both sessions will meet at the Bush TH entrance to the Hawes Trail System at 8 AM. Bring your smart device with ArcGIS Field Maps and a Map Area already downloaded. You can view YouTube videos showing how to download ArcGIS Field Maps and the NNP Survey with Burn Area map. Email don@friendsofthetonto.org for the map password and to let him know which day that you plan to attend.

New this Year!

New this season is a contract with the Tonto NF for mapping and monitoring in the Superstition Fire burn area.  This will expand our area east of the First Water TH to Black Mesa and Garden Valley.  This multi-year program will include fountain grass removal contracted to a youth group. More details on this activity will be posted soon.

Help water the milkweed

You can water milkweed seedlings at Phon D Sutton Recreation Site on the Lower Salt River and you can water milkweed seedling at the Wildcat Trailhead/Staging Area on the Cave Creek Ranger District. Sign up to water here!

Friends helping our friends from Arizona Wild to restore Arnett Creek

Take a look at this excellent story map documenting Arnett Creek restoration!

AVAILABLE now! Butterfly and Wildflower Field ID Book

“Wildflowers, Butterflies and More” by local author Marianne Skov Jensen.

The author donated a limited number of this beautiful and informative field guide to Friends of the Tonto. 

Marianne Jensen moved to Arizona in 1995. She was struck by the diversity and beauty of the Sonoran desert.  Seeing the need for a small-sized field guide to local flora, she embarked on creating a new guide.  This little book contains hundreds of photos of flowers that can be found in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The flower photos are paired with photos of butterflies that frequent them.  

Proceeds from sales of her book will go toward the Friends of the Tonto’s Milkweed for Monarchs program. The program focuses on monarch butterfly habitat restoration and monitoring, and public education about this remarkable animal.

Cost:  $20 + shipping and handling

Meet Scott Wood, Friends’ Board Member and Cultural Committer Chair

Scott was born and raised in Arizona, and has lived, worked, or attended school, all around the state. He worked for the Tonto National Forest for 40 years and retired from his job as Forest Archaeologist in 2015. During that time, he spent significant time on the preservation and interpretation of cultural resources in Arizona. He worked with volunteers, and promoted public archaeology and the importance of using citizen scientists in archaeological research and preservation. He helped found the volunteer Site Steward Program for State Parks and still works with them through the Arizona Site Stewards Program Foundation.

As a member of the Board of the Friends of the Tonto National Forest, Scott leads ruin preservation projects and public interpretation at archaeological locations. He conducts research through Friends’ volunteer projects in collaboration with the Arizona Archaeological Society, Arizona State University, and Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument. Scott has one son and one grandson. He has been married to Patti Fenner, Executive Director of Friends for over 40 years, which is how he got involved with Friends in the first place…

Get to know others who serve on the Friends’ Board

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