Friends of the Tonto National Forest –
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.

Shoofly Match Challenge!

FOTNF is committed to helping the Tonto protect one of the Forest’s archaeological gems – Shoofly Village Ruin. This site, developed for public interpretation by the Forest in 1994 and adopted by FOTNF in 2019, is being threatened by OHV incursions. FOTNF and the Payson and Cave Creek Ranger Districts have partnered to build a pipe rail barrier around the parking lot at the site to prevent further damage, but we need your help as well!

Shoofly Village is located approximately 2 miles northeast of the Town of Payson and 2.9 miles along Houston Mesa Road from its junction with SR87 on the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest. It was built and occupied between A.D. 1000 and 1280 by people who had close ties to the Hohokam and Salado people then living in the deserts and mountains to the south. The village contains 87 rooms and many courtyards, all surrounded by a compound wall that encloses about four acres. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This popular recreation site has an interpretive trail, signs, and kiosks emanating from a paved parking lot that also serves as a trailhead for a hiking/equestrian trail that will eventually connect it to another interpreted archaeological site nearby being developed by the Town of Payson. On behalf of the Tonto National Forest, we would like to invite you to come visit this unique example of Arizona’s cultural heritage.

When originally developed in the 1990s, the parking lot was enclosed by a log rail fence to keep motor vehicles away from the ruin and off pedestrian trails. Over time the wooden fence has degraded and is no longer effective in managing vehicular travel. Consequently, the integrity of the ruin is being threatened by vehicular excursions, as can be seen in the photos below. So far the incursions have only affected the interpretive trails leading to the ruin, but it is only a matter of time that uncontrolled vehicular travel will impact the ruin itself, given the flat and open terrain of the site.

Recent vehicular incursions across the broken-down rail fence and onto the interpretive trails.

To help contain this threat FOTNF, in partnership with the Payson and Cave Creek Ranger Districts of the Tonto National Forest, proposes to hire a contractor to construct a steel pipe rail vehicle barrier around the parking area at the Shoofly Village Ruin Interpretive site in order to replace the broken down rail fence and prevent unauthorized vehicular access to the ruin, pedestrian trails, and surrounding area. This barrier will be built at the edge of the paved parking lot. It will consist of a 5 inch diameter horizontal steel rail welded to vertical steel posts at a height of 3 feet with swing gates to access the pedestrian trails. The pipe for both rails and posts will be contributed by the Forest Service. It is currently stored at the Cave Creek Ranger Station in Carefree, Arizona and will be transported to the Shoofly work site by the contractor.

Total cost of the project will be $29,006. The Forest Service and FOTNF will contribute a value of $14,506 in materials and labor. Still to be funded would be the $14,500 required to hire the contractor necessary for the transport of materials and construction.

A former President of FOTNF has offered to match the first $5,000 we receive in donations in order to help pay the contractor required to build the pipe rail!

Please give what you can to fund this worthy project and help us to preserve an important part of America’s cultural heritage. Thank You!

Superstition Mountains Project

Removal Events

Look what we do at a Removal Event!

Events are planned for every 2nd and 4th Saturday from October through April.

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

You can easily complete the required registration for the removal events at Removal Event Registration. 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 Burn 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. 

We look forward to seeing you in the fantastic Superstition Mountains!

Learn more about invasive plants and Defending the Desert

Help Water the Milkweed

You can water milkweed seedlings at Phon D Sutton Recreation Site on the Lower Salt River or at Rattlesnake Cove at Barlett Lake on the Cave Creek Ranger District. Sign up to water today!

Watch Susan Shridharan talk about the Monarch program here!

Meet Urb Weidner, Friends’ Board Secretary

Urb Weidner

Originally from Chicago, IL, Urb worked there following his graduation from the U. of Illinois and military service where served as a Captain in the US Army Ordinance Corps. A love for the outdoors was developed following relocation with his family to MN. Later, having moved to the north shoreline of Lake Superior, he frequented the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and often hiked on the nearby Superior Hiking Trail. Urb also lived for several years in Asia (Hong Kong & Singapore).

Upon arriving in AZ, Urb has been an active board member of the Sierra Club Saguaro Group for 15 years. His current role is leadership of the Group service projects, which include trail maintenance on the Maricopa Trail and at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area; maintenance support to Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue and SW Wildlife Conservation Area; and leading Sierra Club support of the Photopoint program and Milkweed planting in the Tonto.

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!