Friends of the Tonto National Forest (FOTNF) had a veery successful season removing invasive grasses in the Forest. The Invasive Plant Management program, running from October through April, consists of mapping invasive plant species, removal events, and monitoring sites where grasses had been previously removed. Thanks to grant funding from the Department of Forestry and Fire Management, FOTNF has been able to increase the project area for plant removals, hire youth conservation crews to remove grasses in remote areas, and develop outreach materials to educate the public about invasive plants. Read on to find out how the 2022-23 volunteer season went!
- Volunteers were amazing this season! FOTNF hosted 16 volunteer events, and 199 volunteers attended, totaling 1,027 hours. This was an increase of 578 volunteer hours from the 2021-2022 season. In addition, individuals that monitored, mapped and removed these grasses on their own schedule totaled 394 hours. FOTNF hosted special events with Network Volunteers which included 13 high school students and chaperones from New Hampshire, a removal event with students from the Tempe Prep Academy, and an event with the Hawes Trail Alliance with Invitation Homes.
- Between volunteers and youth crews, 78 acres of invasive plants were cleared in the Tonto National Forest.
- FOTNF received tremendous support from the East Valley Back Country Horsemen with their pack horses hauling water into the remote areas for herbicide treatment.
- FOTNF produced and mailed 1,833 educational brochures to residences, with an additional 2,000 brochures distributed to Forest visitors through direct handouts and brochure dispensers installed at key trailheads.
- We continued our partnership with Lost Dutchman State Park by removing grasses within the Park and supporting their Family Campout events.
- We supported Apache Junction Parks and Recreation in their efforts to start a program to manage non-native plants in Silly Mountain Park.
- FOTNF volunteers surveyed and mapped a total of 154 acres within the total project area of 12,640 acres.
- The Field Maps app has been significantly improved with the ability to visualize prior activity and the timing for follow up monitoring.
About the Project
The goal of the Invasive Plant Management project is to reduce the fire risk in Tonto National Forest. We focus on two prevalent species – fountain grass and buffelgrass. These plants are commonly found along roadsides, and in home and business landscaping. Seeds are easily transported by wind, water, animals, vehicles, hikers, bikers and equestrians. By removing invasive plants, we are reducing the threat of wildfire to nearby communities. We protect the Forest so the Forest can protect us. To volunteer, fill out our volunteer application. For additional information, check out the Invasive Plant Management section of our website.