The Friends of the Rio de Flag is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose goal is to protect, restore, clean up and improve the Rio de Flag and its tributaries to maximize their beauty, educational, recreational, and natural resource values, including the riparian habitats they provide.

Where is the Rio de Flag anyway? Click here to see a 3D image of the Rio watershed.


January 3rd: Annual Potluck and Board Elections

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Please join us on Thursday, January 3rd for our annual potluck! Meet members of the Board (if you haven’t already) and learn about our 2018 achievements. In addition, the City of Flagstaff Water Conservation Program will provide an introduction to their current strategic planning process.

We will also host elections for Board of Directors. Vote online now  or in person at the potluck. 

Bring a friend and your favorite dish to share in this year’s feast!

We’re Hiring a Watershed Group Coordinator!

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We’re Hiring a Watershed Group Coordinator!

The Friends of the Rio de Flag is hiring a Watershed Group Coordinator who will: 1) lead in the development of a Watershed Group composed of a diversity of community stakeholders, and; 2) write a watershed restoration plan for the Rio de Flag river. In addition, the Coordinator will conduct public outreach and education throughout the watershed planning process to ensure that the watershed restoration plan (“the Plan”) captures the local community’s vision for watershed restoration. The Coordinator will work closely with a facilitation team and other partners to organize and carry out stakeholder interviews, watershed group development, and public meetings. Insights from these interviews and meetings will be used by the Coordinator to write a watershed restoration plan for the Rio de Flag. The Coordinator will augment the plan with reference to relevant reports and planning documents.

This is a part-time position. A full position description is available here.

Those interested in applying should send a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and two references to Chelsea Silva at deflagrio@gmail.com. Please state: Watershed Group Coordinator in the subject line. Application deadline January 31st, 2019. Interviews will take place during February 2019. Position start date: ~ March 1st, 2019.

Qualified individuals with disabilities and those from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. We provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals upon request.

The Friends of the Rio is a small, nonprofit organization that works to protect, restore, clean up, and improve theRio de Flag stream and its tributaries in order to maximize their beauty, educational, recreational, and natural resource values, including the riparian habitats they provide.

We Need Your Help to Keep Chelsea Silva on the Job in 2019

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Thanks to the generosity of our donors last year, Friends of the Rio de Flag -FoRio- raised matching funds that allowed Chelsea Silva to serve for a second year as a VISTA member engaged in wide range of Rio de Flag issues, including educating elementary school students using the Rio de Flag as an outdoor classroom. Remarkably, she also made time to serve as our unpaid Executive Director, which has benefited us immensely.

One of her great accomplishments has been a successful application for a WaterSMART Grant from the Bureau of Reclamation. This summer, we learned that FoRio’s application received a very high score and has been selected for a $100K grant to work with the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, and other stakeholders to develop a Rio de Flag Watershed Plan. 

This is fabulous news, but…there is lots of work to do and a short deadline to complete the requirements to actually receive this grant. We are to develop a detailed system for complying with all federal grant administration requirements including how we will ensure that our subcontractors’ financial management systems adhere to Bureau of Reclamation terms and conditions. We’ll also need to conduct the search for an employee to manage the grant for the next two years.

This is a huge task and we’ll need Chelsea’s continued dedication to be sure we receive the final go-ahead with this funding. We can’t ask Chelsea to take on all this additional work without compensation. 

FoRio Board members have already donated $2,500. Please help us to match this with another $2,500 to pay Chelsea for the many hours of work necessary to ensure we get the final approval for funding. 

Tax-deductible donations can be made through PayPal by clicking the DONATE button at the top right corner of our website. Every dollar helps!

Or put a check in the mail to:

Friends of the Rio de Flag

PO Box 151

Flagstaff, AZ 86002

Friends of the Rio de Flag is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose goal is to protect, restore, clean up and improve the Rio de Flag and its tributaries to maximize their beauty, educational, recreational and natural resource values, including the riparian habitats they provide. 

December 7th: Mountain Sports Gives 10% to Friends of the Rio

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Friday, December 7th: Mountain Sports Gives 10% to Friends of the Rio de Flag

Need to pick up some outdoorsy holiday gifts? Make sure your gift counts! Save your purchases for December 7th (First Friday) at Mountain Sports when the shop gives 10% of sales to Friends of the Rio.

We will have Arizona-themed Christmas ornament making, mulled wine and hot cocoa, and a “Tour de Rio” through photography from 6-8pm.

The Friends of the Rio de Flag is a nonprofit that works to protect and restore the Rio de Flag for the benefit of Flagstaff.

Support your river and shop with us on December 7th!

Mountain Sports is located at 24 N San Francisco Street in downtown Flagstaff.

Nov 1st: Wet/Dry Mapping and Recreation along the Rio

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Wet/Dry Mapping and Recreation along the Rio

Flow Monitoring Crew poses at Frances Short Pond before heading out to collect data along the Rio de Flag on May 19th, 2018.

When: Thursday, November 1st, 6:00p-7:30pm

Where: Joe Montoya Communter Center, 245 N Thorpe Road

Friends of the Rio has been lucky to mentor several interns and NAU student-led projects in 2018.

Join us on Thursday to hear from these individuals. John Leary, NAU Masters in Environmental Sciences & Policy student, will share his work on wet/dry mapping of the Rio de Flag. John helped developed protocol for wet/dry mapping in Flagstaff and worked closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to organize a citizen science event that engaged volunteers in collecting data along the Rio. John will share maps and camera footage that help us better understand flow regimes of the Rio de Flag.

We will also hear from Casey Langstroth, Victoria Hess, and Ryan Turley, three NAU undergraduate students who worked as a team to collect observational user data on two segments of the Rio de Flag. The intent of their project was to document how many users use the FUTS trails during sample periods.

Please join us this week to hear about the great work being done by these NAU students.

October 4th: What’s Up with the Friends of the Rio?

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Public Meeting: What’s Up with the Friends of the Rio?

Attendees at a workshop focused on stormwater in the Southside Neighborhood discuss the future of the Rio de Flag in their neighborhood with City staff. The meeting was co-hosted by the City of Flagstaff and Friends of the Rio de Flag.

What: Public Meeting

Where: Montoya Community Center, 245 N. Thorpe Road

When: Thursday, October 4th, 6:00-7:30pm

Friends of the Rio de Flag has been busy over the last year. Join us October 4th to learn more about where we are at and where we are headed.

Last fall, the Friends received and EPA Environmental Justice Small grant aimed at building partnerships and gathering information in the Southside Neighborhood where the Rio de Flag and localized flooding have caused issues for generations.

As our EPA grant wraps up, we are preparing to receive a WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management grant from the Bureau of Reclamation. The WaterSMART grant will help us gather input from key stakeholders and the public for a watershed restoration plan.

Join us to learn about these projects and how you can be involved moving forward! Presenters include Chelsea Silva and Matt Muchna.

September 25th: Rio de Flag Cleanup and Mini-Citizen Science Workshop

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Rio de Flag Cleanup and Mini-Citizen Science Workshop

The Rio de Flag is Flagstaff’s river. Like many rivers and streams in the Southwest, “the Rio” appears as a dry wash for most of the year. But when winter storms roll through Flag, and monsoon seasons pick up, the Rio flows through town and makes its way to San Francisco Wash, a tributary to the Little Colorado River.

We will host a Rio de Flag cleanup event and mini-citizen science workshop as part of Colorado River Days (bring your smart phone!).

Time and Date: The citizen science workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 25th from 4:00PM – 6:00PM. The cleanup will follow and we will wrap up by 6PM.

Location: Meet at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (additional parking available at police station east of the center).

Note: Please dress for weather. Long pants and close-toed shoes recommended. Bring a smart phone and a water bottle. Gloves, trash bags, and trash grabbers will be available for use. Please follow instructions to download and install the Arizona Water Watch phone app prior to the event: http://azdeq.gov/arizona-water-watch-mobile-app.

Contact Chelsea Silva at deflagrio@gmail.com to RSVP.

September 20th: Hike with Mayor Coral Evans

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Hike through the Southside with Mayor Coral Evans

 

Thursday, September 20th, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Mayor Coral Evans will walk us through the Southside Neighborhood to discuss the history of flooding in the neighborhood and potential solutions to address the issue. Mayor Evans is a third generation Southside resident who has lived and experienced the challenges of flooding in her community. We hope you can make it to this informative hike!

Meet at the northwest corner of Phoenix Avenue and Beaver Street.

Reflecting on an Internship with Friends of the Rio de Flag

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Reflecting on an Internship with Friends of the Rio de Flag

This is a reflection written by James Archuleta in May 2018 and published on August 21st, 2018. James graduated from Northern Arizona University in summer 2018.

James Archuleta stands outside the Tourist Home, a historic structure in the Southside Neighborhood.

My name is James Archuleta. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University majoring in political science with a minor in psychology. This spring, I worked as an intern with the Friends of the Rio de Flag on their Rio de Flag and Southside Neighborhood project funded by an EPA Environmental Justice Small grant. My internship focused on increasing community awareness about the history of the neighborhood and Rio flowing through it. My main tasks included: 1) building a social media campaign to provide our Facebook followers the chance to learn more about their local community, and; 2) canvassing along with staff from the Community Development section of the City of Flagstaff who are working to update the Southside Neighborhood Plan through resident-driven process and input. This door-to-door outreach allows us to collect information from residents about their experiences with flooding of the Rio de Flag and how they feel this issue should be addressed.

This project is about education, outreach, and most importantly, building relationships with Southside Neighborhood residents in order to better understand their experiences. The Rio de Flag runs through the heart of the Southside Neighborhood (Figure 1). Like all rivers, the Rio de Flag has a floodplain, or area of low-lying ground adjacent to the river that is subject to flooding. Figure 1 shows the delineation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “100-year floodplain” which encompasses a large section of the Southside. The area within a 100-year floodplain has 1 in 100 chance of flooding every year.

Figure 1. Rio de Flag flowing through Southside with FEMA designated 100-year floodplain. Pre-1920s channel shows Rio flowing along railroad alignment.

This is problematic for the residents of the Southside Neighborhood, but it’s more complicated than that. Flooding in the Southside is a matter of environmental justice. Historically, the Southside Neighborhood was a segregated community. In the early 1900s, the Rio was diverted into the neighborhood. The new channel was built with insufficient space to carry small floods let alone a 100-year flood. This history put low income, minority families of the Southside Neighborhood at a disadvantage. Today, those multi-generational families still bear the burden of this diversion of flow.

The residents of the Southside face a multitude of problems related to flooding. The designation of a FEMA 100-year in their neighborhood means that they have an added cost to their home ownership in the form of paying legally-required flood insurance. In addition, if Southside residents want to renovate their homes, they must follow what is known as the “50-50” rule. This FEMA rule means that residents are required to follow FEMA building requirements for any renovation that is equal to or greater than 50% of the value of the structure being renovated. Often times this means “building out of the floodplain” for such renovations, or literally raising the foundation of the structure above the height of the 100-year flood water levels. The thing is, if they don’t renovate, their properties are in the path of the waters if the Rio ever does flood. It’s a catch 22 situation: pay the high costs needed to renovate, or keep paying flood insurance and leave your property susceptible to damage by flooding.

The City of Flagstaff has been trying to address this issue through a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their partnership, known as the Rio de Flag Flood Control Project, began in 1995. While parts of the project have been completed, but project design has yet to be completed, let alone the on-the-ground work needed to protect residents from a 100-year flood. In addition, over 20 years have passed since the Southside residents have been approached for their input on the project design.

The work I carried out with the Friends of the Rio will give Southside residents a chance to share their insights. What do these residents want for the future of their neighborhood and river? What issues are they facing and what opportunities do they perceive?

The burden of flooding ultimately falls on the Southside residents. Their livelihoods and their businesses are those that would be directly affected if a flood were to hit. They are the ones who will directly deal with having to clean up, move, or deal with the destruction of their personal belongings. Their voices need to be heard and collecting their input and engaging them in the process is a step in the right direction to addressing the problem of flooding.

Matt Muchna, the Friends of the Rio’s Education and Outreach Project Manager, illustrated an important point about natural disasters: they illuminate and exacerbate social problems that are already in place before the disaster hits. “Social floods” disproportionally affect minorities and low-income communities after a natural flooding disaster strikes. If you have the means and are wealthy, the disaster is tough to deal with, but isn’t anything that can’t be solved with a little time. On the other hand, if you do not have the means, then you end up stranded on a roof top, waiting for help, trying to figure out the stress of how you’re going to get your life back together, paired with the stress of the fact that your life is in danger, and you need supplies and other necessities to stay alive. Flood disasters hold at risk communities back.

For that very reason, finding a solution to potential flooding is important because those pre-disaster inequalities can be rectified; proactive plans can be made. Floods never have to be a problem if the area is properly prepared and managed to handle large water flows without community flooding. Flood planning and prevention matters because it helps everybody out, not just those at risk. It helps keep those inequalities from becoming worse and it allows people focus on the day to day needs that are important. It enables residents to receive the proper payment for their homes and properties, enables renovations, and provides them with a little peace of mind that does not often exist when living in a vulnerable community.

Thank you to James for his dedication to community and eagerness to always keep learning! Best wishes in life’s next journey.


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