Promoting the Rio de Flag's natural stream system as a unique and valuable natural resource
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.
We will meet at the SW corner of the Sams club parking lot and walk down South Babbitt Drive to the Rio de Flag near the treatment plant. From there we will head downstream past the I-40 wetlands and continue towards the Little America property. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to walk approximately 3 miles
We are pleased to introduce you to Kelly Burke, Friends of the Rio de Flag’s new Watershed Group Coordinator!
Watershed Group Coordinator, Kelly will work with diverse stakeholders and the
public to help expand and formalize the Watershed Group and create a watershed
plan for the Rio de Flag. The goal of the plan is to outline watershed needs
and opportunities, especially as these relate to restoration. This two-year
project is being funded by a Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART Cooperative
Watershed Management grant (Phase I).
brings a wealth of experience and training to the Friends of the Rio. As cofounder
and Director of the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, a science-based
conservation organization in Flagstaff, Kelly has overseen the completion of
major restoration projects, including a collaborative riparian restoration plan
with the National Park Service for the Glen Canyon Reach of the Colorado River.
Her background is in structural geology, hydrology and aqueous geochemistry, fluvial
geomorphology, geoarcheology, and springs and riparian restoration, which she
combines with experience in coordinating field projects and conservation
campaigns, building partnerships, community engagement, nonprofit leadership,
loves people, water, and wild nature with a common concern for their health,
free movement, and full lives. We are thrilled to have Kelly join the
organization and excited to have her strong leadership and positive attitude
guide us through watershed planning in Flagstaff and the surrounding
Our walk on 6 June will start from the Picture Canyon Parking lot down to the Rio de Flag and then turn right on the FUTS route through the Wildcat Reach. This will be an out and back 2 mile walk. Jack Welch, well known and beloved leader of walks in the Flagstaff area and advocate for the Rio de Flag. He will take us into an area that he has long thought should be part of the Picture Canyon Open Space.
This is an excerpt from his July 17, 2017 Arizona Daily Sun column:
The section of the Rio de Flag east of Home Depot at the Flagstaff Mall and north of the railroad tracks has in recent years been called the Wildcat Reach. That segment of our ephemeral little river can be seen from East Route 66 down the slope from the ADOT yard.Countless years of abuse and maltreatment had that unit of the Rio looking more like an industrial dumping ground than a viable feature of a river system. Filled with trash and the coloration left from a long-abandoned paintball court, it seemed to be a permanent blemish on the body of Flagstaff.Not everybody, however, viewed the Wildcat Reach as irredeemable. Some could look past the highly damaged landscape and see an important city resource, a vital link into Picture Canyon and the possibility of a sustainable wetland.In 2008 the Flagstaff Stream Team did a survey and categorized the Wildcat Reach as one of the city locations most in need of restoration. Led by David McKee at a Make a Difference Day in 2011, a large group of citizen volunteers removed 8.2 tons of debris from the Wildcat Reach, including refrigerators, car parts and huge chunks of concrete.The unsightly paintball battlefield was completely eradicated. That space alone entailed the removal of 67 truck tires, many discarded couches and a dumpster full of invasive weeds.The Wildcat Reach of the Rio de Flag is located between East Route 66 and the Flagstaff El Paso Road. The section near East Route 66 is state trust land, then comes a segment of city owned property. The Coconino County parcel starts where the city land ends and follows a section of already constructed county trail to an open gate. From that point to the Flagstaff El Paso Road is city-owned land.Confused? Don’t be, because the county recently installed the easily identified section of trail between the two undeveloped pieces of city property and the State Trust Land still to be purchased. Once completed, the FUTS will connect East Route 66 through Wildcat Reach into the Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve.Won’t it be wonderful when the FUTS is connected all the way through the Wildcat Reach and we can traverse Picture Canyon on a completed urban trail? And why not combine the Wildcat Reach and Picture Canyon into one city/county sponsored preserve?
Join us on Thursday, June 6 to see the changes, hopes and plans for the future of the Wildcat Reach.
A walk to look at restoration potential at Cheshire Pond
Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 from 5:30pm-7:00pm
Meet at the Northwest corner of the Museum of Northern Arizona’s parking lot. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather of the day.
Pond Dam was built in the 1950s as a fishing pond. The dam location was likely
selected to take advantage of the natural gorge that drained the Cheshire
meadow before the neighborhood was developed. The resulting pond has rarely
been managed, most recently by the Friends of the Rio as a wetland restoration
on the fringe of the pond. The pond currently fills during monsoon rains and
snowmelt but can dry completely in the early summer.
with the City’s Stormwater team will provide an overview of past activities at
the pond and potential restoration and monitoring options including dredging
the core pond to provide perennial surface water, wetlands plantings to
increase biodiversity, and citizen science potential to engage the community in
local watershed protection initiatives.
Ed Schenk is a
project manager with the City of Flagstaff’s Stormwater team. He has lived in
Flagstaff for the last 4 years with additional hydrology and geology work at
the Museum of Northern Arizona and the National Park Service. Ed was a research
scientist with the USGS for the decade before moving to Arizona with river
restoration experience in more than 10 states. He has a Master’s from Indiana
University and over 30 publications on river, wetlands, and estuary ecosystem function.
The City of Flagstaff is currently considering potential new release sites for our reclaimed water, with the goal of recharging the C-aquifer that supplies the City’s water supply. This creates an exciting opportunity to create a year-round stream 1-2 miles long in the heart of the City!
Join us on Thursday, April 4th to learn about the amenity benefits from the four release sites under consideration. Paul Beier will describe the City of Flagstaff’s “groundwater recharge feasibility study” and the potential benefits to the Rio and its tributaries – and the people who love the Rio.
The speaker, Paul Beier, is Regents’ Professor of conservation biology at NAU. He is best known for his work on design of wildlife corridors, animal movement, and systematic conservation planning, and his studies of mountain lions, deer, owls, and goshawks. He is former President of the Society for Conservation Biology, and currently Secretary of the Board of the Friends of the Rio.
After record-breaking snowfall on February 21st, 2019, many Flagstaffians are feeling pretty confident about the 2019 water supply and the beautiful Rio de Flag flowing through town.
But how do our riparian communities sustain themselves during the drier parts of the year? Precious water from thousands of springs across Arizona provide are critical, sustained flows for our riparian systems.
We hope you can join us on Thursday, March 7th as we hear from Cerissa Hoglander, Land Conservation Program Manager with the Grand Canyon Trust. We’ll learn about her important work restoring springs on the Colorado Plateau.
Presentation by Tom Mackin, Friends of Northern Arizona Forests
Thursday, February 7th, 6:00PM – 7:30PM
Montoya Community Center, 245 N Thorpe Rd.
With high elevation comes snowy winters in the Flagstaff area. Locals enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and quite walks among ponderosa pine and the occasional gambel oak.
With snowy winters comes plastic sleds. Unfortunately, these disposable, flimsy sheets of plastic which bring so much joy to their users for one day often end up as broken bits of litter in our forests.
Flagstaff residents have taken action to address the mess.
The Friends of Northern Arizona Forests (FoNAF) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to assisting the resource management agencies in maintaining, protecting, and restoring the natural and cultural resources and the scenic beauty of our forest lands for the enjoyment and use of present and future generations. FoNAF assists the Forest Service and other agencies on tasks that these agencies do not have the staff or funds to accomplish.
On Thursday, February 7th we will hear from Tom Mackin, FoNAF Board President. Tom is a retired Technical Specialist with the Coconino County Sheriff’s/Flagstaff Police Department who has spent over 35 years volunteering with various agencies.
Tom will share FoNAF’s successes over the years and help members learn how to get more involved with their projects, from sled cleanups to fencing projects and more.
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!
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.
Those interested in applying should send a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and two references to Chelsea Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.