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.

Saturday, September 24th: Walk and Talk to Frances Short Pond

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Walk and Talk to Frances Short Pond

Saturday, September 24th at Wheeler Park



Frances Short Pond on a beautiful September day. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

This year, the Festival of Science theme is “Change”. Join Board Member and Vice President Deb Noel for a walk and talk from Wheeler Park to Frances Short Pond at 10:30am during Science in the Park. Deb will lead participants in a discussion of the changes we see in the Rio de Flag throughout the year, and how we can document those changes through photography and other forms of technology.

Meet Deb in Wheeler Park during Science in the Park at 10:30am on Saturday, September 24th for a walk to Frances Short Pond. We look forward to kicking off the Festival of Science by focusing on the theme of “Change” within the Rio de Flag watershed. Click here to share this event on Facebook.

BioBlitz at Frances Short Pond: Tuesday, September 27th

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Collecting water quality data at Frances Short Pond. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

Collecting water quality data at Frances Short Pond. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

In celebration of the Flagstaff Festival of Science, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and the Friends of the Rio de Flag will be organizing a BioBlitz at Frances Short Pond.

A BioBlitz is an opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to work in collaboration with biologists, naturalists, and scientists to complete a formal survey or a biological inventory of the plants, animals, and other organisms that live in a particular place within a 24 hour time frame.

Between 3pm-6pm community members will be invited to collect important scientific information about water quality, insects, birds, plants, fish, invertebrates and mammals at established stations. Between 6-7pm guest experts will be giving short presentations and providing opportunities for the public to ask questions about the pond, its history, wildlife, and plans for the future.


Click on the poster icon to view full size.

The event is made possible through a generous grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation and is free and open to the public.

See Willow Bend’s event post for location and contact information regarding the event.

National Day of Service and Remembrance at Picture Canyon on September 11th, 2016

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Volunteer Event September 11th, 2016

       Please click to view the full-size flier.

Join the City of Flagstaff Open Space Program and Arizona Conservation Corps for a 9/11 Day of Service and Rememberance volunteer event at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve.

They will be removing invasive weeds (primarily kochia and diffuse knapweed) from the Rio de Flag channel and maintaining the trail to the Watchable Wildlife Site.

Please bring stury shoes, sun protection and a reusable water bottle. If possible, please bring work gloves and hand tools for yourself, or to share.

Questions? Contact Betsy Emery at or (928)213-2154. For more information, visit the Facebook Event page.

September 1st @ 5:30pm: Free monthly meeting

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Walk and Talk at Sinclair Wash and the I-40 Wetlands

Thursday, September 1st at 5:30pm

The summer monsoon season means fields of golden tickseed blooming at the I-40 wetlands. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

The summer monsoon season means fields of golden tickseed blooming at the I-40 wetlands. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

A surprisingly deep canyon cuts through Flagstaff and opens up unto a constructed wetland area at Interstate 40. I am, of course, referring to Sinclair Wash and the I-40 wetlands, a section along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System frequented by families, students, and wildlife alike.

Join us Thursday, September 1st at 5:30pm for a leisurely walk along Sinclair Wash from Willow Bend to the I-40 wetlands. Several speakers will join us to discuss current and future restoration projects, urban wildlife, and research at the wetlands on the effects of endocrine disruptor chemicals on amphibians.

Please meet and park vehicles at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. If the lot is full, additional parking is available at the nearby sheriff’s station. We will walk from Willow Bend downstream to the I-40 wetlands. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a filled water bottle.

We look forward to another summer walk and talk September 1st!


Upcoming Springs Inventory and Assessment workshops in Flagstaff, Arizona

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Springs inventory and assessment workshop, October 13-14, 2016: The Spring Stewardship Institute (SSI) will host a 2-day workshop designed to inform and educate the public, students, government agencies, NGOs, and Tribes about springs inventory and stewardship. Participants will deepen their understanding of springs ecosystems, ecological integrity, natural and cultural resources, stewardship, restoration, monitoring, field data collection, and information management. The workshop consists of classroom presentations and discussions, as well as hands-on field inventory and assessment training each day. For more information visit

Free webinar, September 28th at 9am: SSI will also present the final results of their 2-year project to support provide land managers, researchers, and NGOs with comprehensive information about springs and springs-dependent species in the Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Registration for this free webinar can be found here.

Much thanks to Fred Phillips Consulting volunteers!

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On July 12, personnel from Fred Phillips Consulting graciously volunteered their time to survey and brainstorm ideas for enhancing the I-40 wetlands area along the FUTS. Biologists and landscape architects from this award winning, local firm spent their time assessing resources and providing a preliminary sketch of how things might be better for this heavily used area.  The materials they provided are greatly appreciated and provide us all with a place to begin the conversation on how we want this area to look and perform.  We look forward to that conversation with all of our partners.  Many thanks from us to them!

I-40 Wetlands Vision Document

Please click on the image to download a larger version of this vision map of the I-40 Wetlands.



Big thank you to our guest speakers!

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The Friends of the Rio de Flag is a local non-profit operating on a small, donations-based budget. We are extremely appreciative of our monthly guest speakers who volunteer their time and energy to share their knowledge and experience about the watershed with our group!

We thank Mindy Bell of STEM City and Gary Alpert with the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) for their informative presentation on August 4th, 2016 at Coyote Springs. Mindy shared her past experience as a science teacher doing outdoor, place-based education with students at the Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, while Gary discussed his current insect sampling efforts to better understand the biodiversity supported by the springs. For more information about Mindy’s past work at the spring including student-collected data, please email To learn about her current work with STEM City, visit their Facebook page. If you would like to learn more about Gary’s insect studies with MNA, shoot him an email at

Thanks again to our wonderful guest speakers!

August 4th @ 6pm: Monthly meeting

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Walk and Talk at Coyote Springs

Mindy Bell, STEM City

Thursday, August 4th at 6:00pm

Coyote Springs site with historic box construction prior to site rehabilitation. Photo courteous of Gary Alpert

Coyote Springs site with historic box construction prior to site rehabilitation. Photo courteous of Gary Alpert

Springs of the San Francisco Peaks represent a source of life for the natural world, and humans have had historical ties to these water sources for thousands of years. With such a rich history of supporting life in the region, springs like Coyote Springs create a unique opportunity to reflect, relate, and learn about local socioecological interactions.

Please join us Thursday, August 4th at 6pm for a walk and talk to Coyote Springs. Mindy Bell, of STEM City, will give a brief overview of her past work at the springs with students from the Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy (FALA).

Following our meeting, we welcome you to join us for live music, food, and drinks at the Museum of Northern Arizona’s “Thirsty Thursday” event! Bring cash for this event.

Please meet and park vehicles at the north end of the Museum of Northern Arizona’s parking lot at 6pm. We will walk from there to Coyote Springs. Wear sturdy shoes and sunscreen, and it would not hurt to bring a filled water bottle. 

We look forward to a great summer walk and talk with you Thursday, August 4th!

Member Meeting: Thursday, July 7th

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Walk along the Rio de Flag with Coral Evans, City Councilmember

Thursday, July 7th, 6:00PM

Meet at the Bus Connection Center on Phoenix Ave.

Rio de Flag flowing in Southside after heavy monsoon thunderstorm, June 28, 2016, Flagstaff, Arizona, Photo courteous of Tom Bean

Rio de Flag flowing in Southside after heavy monsoon thunderstorm, June 28, 2016, Flagstaff, Arizona, Photo courteous of Tom Bean

Walk the Rio de Flag though the Southside neighborhood with City Councilmember Coral Evans and Friends of the Rio de Flag. Coral, who grew up in Southside, will explain some of the history here as we view areas flooded by recent heavy rains.

Volunteer Opportunity: Creating a Monarch Butterfly Way Station

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Volunteer Opportunity 
 Creating a Monarch Butterfly Way Station
Sunday, June 26th, 8am-12pm
Picture Canyon, next to the Fire Department Training Center
Hello Friends of the Rio! Please see below for an awesome volunteer opportunity!
Request for volunteers from Boy Scout Tristan Meriwether here in Flagstaff:
After the monarch wintering area got hit by an unusual spring snowstorm that killed up to 50% of the population, this summer’s generations will need all the help we can give. Tristan was one of the Boy Scouts who completed his Bird Study Merit Badge thanks to the NAAS sponsored classes that Deb James led in 2014.

    My name is Tristan Meriwether and I am creating a Monarch Way Station for my Eagle Scout Service Project. I am working with the City of Flagstaff to create a food and shelter station for Monarch Butterflies and other pollinators whose numbers are rapidly dwindling. I am in need of volunteers to make this project a reality.

I have three work days coming up. The next one is Sunday, June 26th, 8am – 12pm.

Location: Near Flagstaff Wildcat Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2800 N. El Paso Flagstaff Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86004 (about a mile behind the Flagstaff Mall off of Route 66, right next to Fire Department Training Center).

Snacks and Drinks: Provided!

Wear: We’ll be moving dirt, so expect to get dirty; work clothes, work shoes, hat, work gloves, sunscreen.

Tools: Please bring shovels and landscaping rakes (not leaf rakes) if you can; if not, some will be available.

PHASE TWO: We will be planting seeds and placing erosion control cloth down which needs to get done before the monsoons start in beginning July. We have the following dates set to complete this work:

Tuesday, June 28, 8-10 am
Thursday June 30, 4-6 pm

Thank you so very much!

Tristan Meriwether

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