You can help to water the plants!

Initially, watering will be twice weekly for the first few weeks. As the plants become established during the winter months the watering frequency will decrease. Eventually, watering will need to increase in frequency as summer temperatures rise. Typically, supplemental water for the first year is needed until the plants have matured.

Here are five easy steps to take to help with watering the milkweed plants:

  1. Read the watering instructions below for the site you’re going to – either Wildcat Trailhead/Staging Area or Rattlesnake Cove on the Cave Creek Ranger District, or Phon D Sutton on the Lower Salt River, Mesa Ranger District.
  2. Be sure to click the links and read the Field Safety Analysis, Covid Protocol, and Friends of the Tonto Liability Waiver.
  3. Sign Milkweed Volunteer Signup Form and click “submit”.
  4. Once you have completed the three steps above, you may sign up to water as many times as you like! Simply use the “Sign-Up” link below to sign up for the dates you want to go water.
  5. Go out and water!

Click here for Phon D Sutton Recreation Area, Mesa Ranger District Instructions


Instructions for

Wildcat Trailhead/Staging Area and Rattlesnake Cove (Bartlett Lake)

on the Cave Creek Ranger District

Safety and before you go:

Wear your mask when at the site and when at the Fire Station. If you are working outside alone there is no requirement to wear a mask. 

Watch your footing and watch for traffic when watering.

Let a friend know where you are going and when you expect to return. Remember to call them back to let them know you got home safely!

Read over the both the Field Safety Analysis and the Covid Protocol below for safety tips.

Field Safety Analysis

Covid Protocol

Read the Liability Waiver below. If any minors will be participating in the watering, also fill out, sign and return the Parent/Guardian Minor Consent Form. Please be sure to include the name and phone number of an emergency contact person. Email the forms to pfenner@friendsofthetonto.org at least 1 day before you go.

Liability Waiver 2021

Volunteer Sign Up Form

Contact others who will be watering the same day as you and make arrangements for meeting to pick up the water, etc.

Check a map to be sure you know how to get where you’re going.

Watering at Rattlesnake Cove and Wildcat Staging Area:
The milkweed seedlings at Rattlesnake Cove will need watering at least weekly through the summer and fall of 2022. Milkweed planted at the Wildcat Staging Area in 2020 is now well established but may need occasional watering if the summer weather is exceptionally dry.

Picking up water at the Cave Creek Ranger Station: 

Water jugs, hose and water tap are located at the far right-side maintenance yard beyond the ranger station. To access the yard, turn left at the entrance to the Cave Creek Ranger Station on Bartlett Dam Road (less than 0.5 miles from Bartlett Dam Road/Cave Creek Road intersection). Continue along the entrance road past the ranger station and turn right into the far maintenance yard. Water jugs and hose are stored along the right side of the lot. Pick up enough containers (gallon jugs and/or 2.5 gallon cubitainers) to equal 29 gallons (each seedling needs ½ gallon).

Note: Please check the ranger station hours, as the maintenance yard is only accessible when the ranger station is open. If you need to water when the ranger station is closed, contact the SignUp scheduler for instructions after you register.

Rattlesnake Cove Milkweed Site:

From the Cave Creek Ranger Station turn left onto Bartlett Dam Road and continue toward Bartlett Lake for about 13 miles until you are almost at the Jojoba boat launch ramp. Turn left onto North Lake Road (just before the Jojoba boat launch), drive about ½ mile and turn right into the Rattlesnake Cove Recreation Site. The road and parking lot are paved and there are restrooms available, but no water. Seedlings are planted around the edges of the parking area and in planters near restrooms. A map of the seedlings will be sent to you once you register to water.

Each plant has a metal mesh fencing tube around it to protect it from marauding wildlife. If tubes have been knocked down, please set them back up and secure the base.

Give each plant about ½ gallon of water. Pour slowly so as not to disturb the roots of the fragile seedlings.

Return the water containers to the maintenance yard and refill the containers. Attach the coiled Friends of the Tonto hose to a hose coupling at the water pipe (just beyond the shed) and lightly turn the water lever on. Be sure to turn the water lever off, detach the hose, and leave it coiled by the water jugs for the next waterer. If you need assistance, staff at the ranger station will be able to answer questions.

Wildcat Trailhead and Staging Area Milkweed Site:

Turn right onto Bartlett Dam Road from Cave Creek Road (if coming from Pima Road). Drive about 1 mile and turn right at the sign for Wildcat Trailhead/Staging Area. This road is unpaved and rutty, but a passenger car with standard clearance can handle it. Follow this road about ½ mile to the parking lot.

The plants are on top of the rocky slope behind the pipe rail above the parking lot. You can drive close to the planting site only with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Do not attempt to drive to the ridge in a passenger car.

After you are through for the day:

Fill out a time report with your hours and mileage for the day. Your time on the project starts when you leave your house and ends when you return. Link to time reporting page.

Pour yourself a cold (or hot!) one, and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Sign up to water again!

Sign up to water!

Directions to Rattlesnake Cove


Instructions for

Phon D Sutton Recreation Area on the Mesa Ranger District

Safety and Before you go:

Wear your mask when at the site and when at the Forest Service Office. If you are working outside alone there is no requirement to a wear mask. 

Watch your footing and watch for traffic when watering.

Let a friend know where you are going and when you expect to return. Remember to call them back to let them know you got home safely!

Read over both safety analyses for safety tips.

Field Safety Analysis

Covid Protocol

Read the Liability Waiver. If any minors will be participating in the watering, also fill out, sign and return the Parent/Guardian Minor Consent Form. Please be sure to include the name and phone number of an emergency contact person. Email the form to pfenner@friendsofthetonto.org at least 1 day before you go.

Liability Waiver 2021

Volunteer Sign Up Form

Contact others who will be watering the same day as you and make arrangements for meeting to pick up the water, etc. 

Check a map to be sure you know how to get where you’re going.

Picking up water at the Mesa Ranger District Office: 

The water cubies, gallon jugs for watering individual plants, and funnel to be used for the Phon D site will be stored near the picnic tables at the back of the Mesa Ranger District (5140 E. Ingram St., Mesa, AZ 85209). You will pick up, drop off, and refill the containers at the office. Use the hose and spigot on the east side of the building near the picnic tables to refill the containers.

Each cubie holds 5 gallons of water.  Each plant requires ½ gallon of water, so a total of 25 gallons will need to be taken to the site. You can choose to take 5 full containers, or 10 ½ full containers if you want to reduce the weight. You also have the option to use 25 1-gallon jugs. Please coordinate with the other volunteers on your watering date(s) to set up who will be responsible for bringing out the water. You are welcome to bring your own gallon jugs.

Milkweed Site:

You should easily spot the plants when you pull into the Phon D parking lot. They are planted inside the curbed planters in the east parking area. Each plant will have a hardware cloth (metal mesh fencing) tube around it to protect it from marauding wildlife. Check in each planted area to make sure you find all the plants, even ones that may be missing a tube. If the tubes have been knocked down, please set them back up and secure the base so they don’t fall again. Give each plant about ½ gallon.  Pour slowly so as not to disturb the roots of the fragile seedlings. Please remember to return the containers, jugs, and funnel to the Mesa Ranger District Office when you’re done watering and refill the containers for the next volunteer.

After you are through for the day:

Fill out a time report with your hours and mileage for the day. Your time on the project starts when you leave your house and ends when you return. Link to time reporting page.

Pour yourself a cold (or hot!) one, and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Sign up to water again!


Now Signup!

We’re using Signup.com to organize the watering. Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our SignUp for Phon Dhttps://signup.com/go/eJRRBDd

OR Click this link to see our SignUp for Wildcathttps://signup.com/go/ExDZcRx

OR Click this link to see our SignUp for Rattlesnake Cove: https://signup.com/go/CFhUAGS

2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.

3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on Signup.com.