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.

If you value America’s public lands, you need to help save them

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Standard-Examiner • January 25, 2017 • Special to the Standard-Examiner by Jack Troyer

Could we really lose our treasured national forests and public lands?

The short answer is maybe. It will depend upon how much the tens of millions of people who love and use these lands are willing to become involved to save them.

If you enjoy camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, taking an OHV ride, horseback riding, bird watching, rafting, mountain climbing, and many other outdoor recreation activities without having to face a No Trespassing sign, then you should get involved in efforts to save them.

Very few of you enjoy these activities on private land. You go to the wonderful public lands that every American owns. If you do not oppose the efforts to dispose of our public lands, there certainly is a chance it could happen. It will not happen through the court system, despite the wishes of those who want to keep trying in the face of decades of settled law. But it could happen if Congress changes its mind and decides we don’t need them any more. One bill passed by Congress and signed by the president could do it.

I think President Theodore Roosevelt was right. Our public lands belong to all Americans and should be managed under federal protection. Roosevelt acted to save America’s diminishing natural resources and brought 230 million acres of public land under increased protection as national forests, refuges, parks, and monuments. These public lands are the envy of the world and managed using scientific principles that have become the bedrock of public land management policy. Go in any direction here in Utah and enjoy the fruits of those wise decisions we have enjoyed for well over 100 years.

History shows giving the national forests and public lands to the states would be a step to their eventual sale to the highest bidder. Most of the Western states have land they were given at statehood. In total, Western states have disposed of about 31 million acres of their lands, according to National Wildlife Federation data. Here in Utah, of the 7.5 million acres of state trust land Utah was given upon statehood, Utah manages 3.4 million acres.

Make no mistake about it — the next state budget crisis or $100 million fire suppression bill will bring calls to raise money from a land sale. And there goes your heritage, along with your favorite mountain or lake. Worse yet, for many of you who work in the incredibly large outdoor recreation industry that depends on these lands being available for average Americans, there goes your job.

You might have heard of the recent sale of 172,000 acres of Boise Cascade timberland north of Boise, Idaho. The billionaire Wilks brothers from Texas bought it and immediately closed it to hunting and other recreation. They cancelled leases with Valley County to maintain roads that provided access to snowmobile trails on public land. All of this is their prerogative, of course, because it is now their land. But think for a moment how you would feel if this happened to the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest you see from your front door.

The folks who want to transfer our public lands to state or private ownership won an early victory in the new Congress. On the first day of its new session, the House passed a new rule designed to make it easier to transfer lands to states, local communities, or Indian tribes by assuming these transfers would not cost the federal government anything. Not a single dollar. This eliminates one budgetary barrier to land transfer bills.

So what to do? We in the National Association of Forest Service Retirees believe the answer is to get involved in whatever way you can. If you are an elk hunter, join the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. If you snowmobile, join your local snowmobile association. If you enjoy watching birds, join the National Audubon Society. There is an organization for every outdoor pursuit. Then you can work together with friends and make a difference.

And above all, as an individual, contact all your legislators, go to their town hall meetings, and let them know what you think.

I think the saddest question I might hear someday will come from a child who asks his or her grandparents this question: What was it like when you could just go to the mountains?

Jack Troyer retired as an Intermountain regional forester after a 39-year career with the U.S. Forest Service. He serves as a board member of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees and lives in Ogden.

February 2nd @ 6pm: What Happens to the Water After It Leaves Picture Canyon?

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Membership Meeting: What Happens to the Water After It Leaves Picture Canyon?

Hannah Griscom, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Thursday, February 2nd at 6pm

Montoya Community Center

Canyon of the Rio de Flag at Logan’s Crossing. Photo courteous of Tom Bean.

Join us Thursday, February 2nd to examine the mystery of diminishing water at Logan’s Crossing through preliminary data collected by Hannah Griscom, Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hannah will discuss the factors that may be contributing to the decline, discuss the role of the County and the Friends of the Rio, and ask for your input on the future of effluent discharges into the Rio.

The Rio de Flag is an ephemeral stream that relies upon storm events to provide intermittent flow. At the same time, treated effluent delivers water to the Rio de Flag at several locations throughout the City.

Last year, community members expressed concern over diminishing water levels in the Rio de Flag at Logan’s Crossing, just downstream of Doney Park. What is happening to this water? Is there a hope of getting it back? Join us Thursday, February 2nd to find out!

***In addition to Hannah’s presentation, we will have a short conversation at the end of our meeting to discuss the current state of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project


Watershed Planning Discussion: 1/5/2017 Meeting Minutes

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Last Thursday we had an excellent turnout for our discussion on watershed planning for the Rio de Flag watershed. A big thanks to all of our attendees and to Mayor Coral Evans for joining the discussion! To view meeting minutes please follow this link.

Rio de Flag Project Receives Reauthorization Funds of $102.9 Million

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City of Flagstaff • January 3, 2017 • News Release

FLAGSTAFF, AZ – On December 10, 2016, the Rio de Flag Flood Control project received $102 million in reauthorization funds from the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000.)

This new $102.9 million reauthorization for the project was recently sent to the President for his signature. As an authorized project the Rio de Flag construction funds may be received which indicates the project will be completed in the next five to seven years.

A significant flood event would directly affect more than half of Flagstaff’s nearly 70,000 residents and would result in damages to approximately 1,500 structures valued at over $450,000,000. Implementation of the City’s Downtown and Southside Redevelopment Initiative are entirely dependent on the completion of the Rio de Flag Project. In addition to flood damage reduction, other benefits include elimination of mandatory flood insurance and restrictive floodplain management regulations.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) feasibility report proposes to contain the 100-year flood event through construction of 1.6 miles of flood control channel improvements, a 72-acre detention basin, property acquisition, utility relocations and three new bridges.


See the original news release here.

January 5th – UPDATE: Special Guest Mayor Coral Evans to Join Discussion on Watershed Planning for the Rio de Flag

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Frances Short Pond with San Francisco Peaks, along the Rio de Flag, Nov. 5, 2015, Flagstaff

Membership Meeting: Watershed Planning for the Rio de Flag

Friends of the Rio Board of Directors

Thursday, January 5th at 6pm

Montoya Community Center

In 2017 the Friends of the Rio de Flag will begin watershed planning for the Rio de Flag. These efforts cannot happen without collaboration with key stakeholders including local government agencies, landowners, and the community.

Please join us on Thursday, January 5th as we seek input on and brainstorming for watershed planning of the Rio de Flag. As a small nonprofit organization, we rely on volunteers to achieve our major organizational goals. We invite your ideas and your skills in creating a viable plan for the Rio de Flag. UPDATE: We are honored to have Mayor Coral Evans joining us for this important discussion. 

We hope to see you at the Montoya Community Center at 6pm on Thursday, January 5th! Please bring a friend!

Happy Holidays from the Friends of the Rio Board

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With the blanketing of the peaks in snow and the days of 2016 counting down, we write share our accomplishments with our FY 2016 Annual Report. Although we’ve been working in the community for over ten years (with official nonprofit incorporation in 2010), this is the first time we’ve had the capacity to release an annual report. We owe it to our supporters that we are able to grow as an organization and expand our efforts to protect and promote the Rio de Flag through education, outreach, and restoration projects.   

Thank you for your support!  

This year we will focus on two major projects. First, we aim to draft a Rio de Flag Watershed Plan in collaboration with local government and nonprofit entities and with input from the community. Second, we seek to expand the Adopt-the-Rio de Flag Stewardship program.

Please consider giving a gift this season! All donations are tax deductible. Last year we raised over $2,000 and we hope to double this amount to $4,000.

Donate today!

We also accept donations by mail. Please send your gift to Friends of the Rio de Flag, P.O. Box 151, Flagstaff, AZ 86002

Thank you for your support, and happy holidays!

Friends of the Rio de Flag Board of Directors
Rick Miller, Board President
Deb Noel, Vice President
Tom Bean, Treasurer
Malcolm Alter
Bryan Bates
Kathy Flaccus
Hannah Griscom
Allen Haden

December 1st @ 6pm: annual potluck meeting

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Rio de Flag sign on Thorpe Ave. bridge, morning after first snow of season, Nov. 5, 2015, along the Rio de Flag and FUTS trail, Flagstaff

Rio de Flag sign on Thorpe Ave. bridge, morning after first snow of season, Nov. 5, 2015, along the Rio de Flag and FUTS trail, Flagstaff. Photo courteous of Tom Bean

Another year passed, and another potluck by which to celebrate our accomplishments! Please join us on Thursday, December 1st for a report out from the Friends of the Rio Board members. We will share our past accomplishments along with our future goals as we carry on the mission of the Friends of the Rio to, “promote the Rio de Flag’s natural stream system as a unique and valuable natural resource, an asset, and amenity to the City of Flagstaff and the surrounding community.”

Please join us for a 2016 report out to membership at 6pm on Thursday, December 1st at the Montoya Community Center. Bring along a friend and your favorite dish to share in this year’s feast!

November meeting with Tom Whitham follow up: dig a little deeper

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Click the icon above to open the article in a new window. Copyright High Country News

Click the icon above to open the article in a new window. Copyright High Country News

Thank you to Tom Whitham for his fascinating presentation on creating a plant genetic repository for the future of Arizona ecosystems. We invite you to delve deeper into Tom’s discussion through this June 2015 High Country News article “Tree of Life” by Cally Carswell. The article features Tom and his colleagues’ work with the idea that, “to save the most species, conservationists might do best to save the common ones they depend on.” Thanks again, Tom, and enjoy the read everyone!

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