Monthly Archives: October 2016

November 3rd @ 6pm: Free monthly meeting

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Combining Science and Restoration of the Rio de Flag: Creating a Genetic Repository for the Future

Thursday, November 3rd @ 6pm

Montoya Community Center

Riparian restoration on the Rio de Flag in Cheshire. Cottonwoods, willows and aspen about 15 years after planting (foreground not planted) - Photo by Tom Whitham

Riparian restoration on the Rio de Flag in
Cheshire. Cottonwoods, willows and aspen
about 15 years after planting (foreground not
planted) – Photo by Tom Whitham

Riparian restoration efforts provide the combined benefits of improving ecohydrological health and beautifying unhealthy habitats. Community members and scientists alike have conducted restoration efforts throughout the Rio de Flag watershed, using techniques specific to addressing watershed needs in the present and in the face of climate change in the future.

Please join us on Thursday, November 3rd as we are joined by Tom Whitham, Regent’s Professor at Northern Arizona University. Tom will discuss his restoration efforts along the Rio de Flag and how these have created a genetic repository for the future.

We look forward to having you Thursday, November 3rd at 6pm for a presentation and discussion of science and restoration of the Rio de Flag.

Are you interested in serving on the Board of the Friends of the Rio de Flag?

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f-or-logo-1We invite you to consider joining the Board of the Friends of the Rio de Flag (FoRIO). The functionality of any group is often related to the effectiveness and vision of the Board.  Without the engagement of members on the Board, an organization often loses its capacity to meet its mission and commitments.

To that end, we invite you to consider either nominating another FoRIO member or nominating yourself to the Board.  Board members commit to one 2 hour meeting per month and various follow-up information gathering, reading and thoughtful purposing in identifying the most critical task needed to be addressed by the Board and the FoRIO membership.

Please email with a short description of yourself, why you are interested in joining the Board, and what skills you can contribute to the successful functionality of the Friends of the Rio.

Flagstaff Trailheads: Get ready to Make a Difference

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Arizona Daily Sun • October 11, 2016 • Special to the Daily Sun by Jack Welch

They say the eating of crow is the price one (that would be me) pays for the continuous support of the baseball team from their long-ago hometown. In my case, the St Louis Cardinals.

Am I finally over my zeal for the Anheuser-Busch boys of summer? They didn’t even make the playoffs this year. And far worse, finished second to the Chicago Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs! Oh, the despair!! Will my aching heart ever mend? The next thing you know they’ll be brewing Budweiser beer in Brussels. What? The Cardinals aren’t even owned by the Busch family anymore? Arghhhh!

Back to the verbal consumption of the smaller, lesser-beaked, raven-like blackbird. Since moving to Flagstaff I have heckled my friends with known ties to the Windy City Cubbies about the annual collapse of their team. I must admit it’s been a joyful experience. My being right year after year has evolved into a treasured annual event. But now it’s time to consume a humble, but rather fowl, pie. The following is my crow-munching paragraph of capitulation.

A slight tip of my redbird cap to the team that plays home games in Wrigley Field. We devoted Cardinal fans, however, are counting on you to not allow the possible winning of a baseball World Series to become a disagreeable habit. Once every century is enough euphoria for Chicago folks. And, as an ardent Cardinal supporter, all I can say is, “Wait ’til next year!”

Now, the real reason for this column. One of the city’s newest employees is Margaret Twomey. Called Maggie by her many friends, she’s now the volunteer and events coordinator for the Flagstaff Sustainability Department. In that capacity she’ll manage the Community Stewards Program for the FUTS and city parks plus coordinate events like Earth Day, The Flagstaff 15-Minute Makeover and many other such activities.

My friend Maggie is an outdoor person with a bachelor of science degree in recreation, parks and leisure with a sports management emphasis. She’s a hard-working volunteer herself as I learned when she and husband Bill painted the inside of the Arizona Trail/Flagstaff Loop Trail tunnel under Highway 89 at Townsend-Winona Road. Together, they turned a dark underpass into a bright passageway.

Her fun-loving personality is well known and she’s a strong athlete. I’ve seen her ride a bicycle up the steep Forest Avenue hill between Fort Valley Road and Beaver Street and then pedal up the next difficult section between Turquoise and Gemini Drive.

Maggie will be organizing, along with the Natural Channel Design Company and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, the annual Flagstaff Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 22nd. They need a huge volunteer force to help in the cleanup and improvement of the wetlands from the I-40 pond westward along the FUTS. Park at the Sam’s Club parking lot (southwest corner) and follow the directional signs down to the work site. The fun starts at 8 a.m.

For more complete information or to volunteer, contact Maggie Twomey at (928) 213 2144 or e-mail

Your help with this project will be much appreciated. I know I’ll be there and we’re counting on your participation. Go, Cubs!

Follow this link to view the original article in the AZ Daily Sun.


October 22nd: Make a Difference Day

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Join us at the I-40 Wetlands on Saturday, October 22nd for Make a Difference Day. Photo courteous of Tom Bean Photography

Join us at the I-40 Wetlands on Saturday, October 22nd for Make a Difference Day. Photo courteous of Tom Bean Photography

The City of Flagstaff has partnered with several local organizations, including Friends of the Rio de Flag, Natural Channel Design, Inc. and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, for this year’s Make a Difference Day service event on Saturday, October 22nd, 8 am – 12 pm. 

We are in need of volunteers to complete a series of restoration and improvement projects at the I-40 Wetlands, a lush section of Sinclair Wash located along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.

Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Creating plant and bird species lists as part of a BioBlitz
  • Planting willow trees
  • Removing trash and debris
  • Removing invasive species and excess vegetation
  • Cleaning out a culvert to support increased water flow into the upstream wetlands

Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference in Flagstaff with family and friends on Saturday, October 22nd from 8 am-12 pm at the I-40 Wetlands! Parking will be available near the site (near Sam’s Club) There will be a 7 am start for those interested in building a bird species list with local experts.

Please contact Maggie Twomey at or (928) 213-2144 to sign up to volunteer. Please bring a hat, reusable water container, work gloves, sturdy shoes, and tools (shovels). Waders would also be beneficial. Some tools will be provided. We will also provide water, coffee, donuts, and a pizza lunch.



BioBlitz draws hundreds to Frances Short Pond

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Arizona Daily Sun • October 1, 2016

Participants collect data at the September 27th BioBlitz at Frances Short Pond. Photo courteous of Tom Bean Photography

Participants collect data at the September 27th BioBlitz at Frances Short Pond. Photo courteous of Tom Bean Photography

On Sept. 27, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, Friends of the Rio de Flag, and multiple other partners organized a Bioblitz at Frances Short Pond.

Stations were set up around the pond that collected information about water quality, aquatic insects, birds, plants and fish. More than 260 students from Marshall Elementary, Flagstaff Junior Academy, and Mount Elden Middle School measured the temperature and dissolved oxygen of the water, used microscopes to identify the aquatic invertebrates they caught, wandered the pond in search of common plants, used binoculars to spot ducks and red-winged blackbirds, fished for rainbow trout, and then pulled together what they learned by constructing a life cycle diagram of an organism of their choice. In the afternoon community members got the same chance to explore this unique ecosystem in their backyard while contributing to the survey data collection.

“The kids and families were super happy to be out conducting citizen science for such a special place in Flagstaff. Watching the binoculars focus in on mallards, coots and blackbirds, eyes grow wide at discovering beetles and bees, and screams of excitement catching their first fish- what a memorable day of science in its simplest form,” said Brenda Strohmeyer, Rocky Mountain Research Station supervisory biological science technician, and event co-organizer.

Valerie Brazzell, whose son Maddox, a 4th grader at Marshall Elementary, participated during the morning school period said “my son came home from school all excited and told me he had a lot of much fun. I decided to check it out too. We participated together in the afternoon session, had a great time, and learned a lot”.

Chelsea Silva, AmeriCorps VISTA watershed stewardship aide with Friends of the Rio de Flag and the City of Flagstaff, who was also in charge of the Plant ID station, said that everyone at her station was super engaged and excited to be part of this effort. “I can’t wait for next time” she added.

Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s executive director and one of the event’s co-organizers, concluded that the event was a huge success.

“This was a true multi-partner collaborative effort, held in conjunction with the Flagstaff Festival of Science,” she said. “I can’t thank our volunteers, experts, and helpers enough. They did such a great job and the result is hundreds of happy students, teachers, and community members who got to spend the day outside, learn about their local environment, and contribute to meaningful data collection and open space management.”

Additional event partners included multiple departments from the City of Flagstaff including Sustainability Section Open Space Program and Storm Water, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, AZ Game and Fish, local illustrator Zack Zdinak, and more. The event was made possible through a generous grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation and the AZ Game and Fish Heritage Grant.

For more Festival of Science activities, visit, and for more information about Willow Bend, visit