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Friends of the Rio de Flag

Promoting 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. The goal of FoRio is to protect, restore, clean up and improve the Rio de Flag and its tributaries to maximize their aesthetic, educational, recreational, and natural resource values, including the riparian habitats* they provide


Thursday, July 2nd Public Meeting
5:30 pm at Snowbowl Road (see location details below)

Education walk to Leroux Springs with Friends of the Rio de Flag Board Member Deb Noel

First water flows at Big Leroux Springs, June 30, 2013, first free flowing water in over 100 years, Coconino National Forest, north of Flagstaff

Join us for our monthly membership meeting to be held on Thursday, July 2nd. This month's meeting will be led by Deb Noel, board member of the Friends of the Rio de Flag. Deb will lead an informal walk to Leroux Springs where two years ago the Friends of the Rio de Flag led successful efforts in resurfacing water at the Big Leroux Springs site.

Deb will discuss the connections between the City of Brotherly Love and science, and how that period of "natural curiosity" influenced some of the young men who later traveled through the greater Flagstaff area, collecting and recording both in written word and art.

Please meet at the Leroux Springs parking area at 5:30 PM this coming Thursday. From Highway 180 turn onto Snowbowl Road, drive one mile to the big righthand turning area on Snowbowl Road. Parking area is at the turn.


Evening Rio de Flag Walk Series with Jack Welch
starts June 6th at 6:00 pm

Jack Welch. Photo by John Grahame.

Join Arizona Daily Sun columnist and Flagstaff treasure Jack Welch for a series of walks exploring the natural and cultural history of the Rio de Flag from its source at Leroux Springs to its terminus at the Bottomless Pit. All walks begin at 6:00 pm.

The series kicks off on SATURDAY 6 JUNE at LEROUX SPRINGS.
Start Location: Leroux Spring parking area.
Directions: Turn right on Snowbowl Road from Highway 180. Go straight for one mile to the first sharp right hand turn. Parking area is at that turn.
Time: 6:00 PM
Description: Walk Into Big and Little Leroux Springs. Big Leroux now flows on the surface for the first time in decades. See the NAU Arboretum, CCC encampment and old Mormon cabin, plus turnaround for the Moqui Stagecoach. About 4 total miles total walking.

Complete schedule here.


Restoring the Rio

Arizona Daily Sun • April 28, 2015 • By Emery Cowan

David McKee with the city of Flagstaff's stormwater management department stands above the Rio de Flag waterway. The city of Flagstaff is in the midst of a project to restore the river's historic watershed. Photo by Emery Cowan © AZ Daily Sun.
David McKee at Wildcat Reach

After it winds through Flagstaff, squeezing between homes, under roads and through culverts, the Rio de Flag ends up on the eastern edge of the city.

Here, boulders decorated with ancient petroglyphs rest in the shadows of construction trucks, and wildlife tracks appear just feet from a Cemex building materials work yard.

Here, the industrial uses that have been pushed to the city’s edge run up against, and tumble into, a rare ribbon of riparian habitat.

“A lot of this area was taken for granted as a trash dump for a long number of years,” said Andy Bertelsen, the county’s director of public works.

This is also the place where the city of Flagstaff has spent the better part of the past decade restoring the Rio de Flag’s path, step by step. The final vision is to extend the Flagstaff Urban Trail System for 3.3 miles along the newly restored riparian area. The trail would connect Doney Park to the existing FUTS trail near the Flagstaff Mall and wind through Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve. (read more...)


Reclaiming Rio will pay off in many ways

Arizona Daily Sun Editorial • April 30, 2015

The purple dashed line shows the proposed Flagstaff Urban Trail System alignment from Old Route 66 to Townsend Winona Road. The proposed trail will pass through areas where the city and the county are working to restore the Rio de Flag riparian area.
Picture Canyon Trail

When it comes to the Rio de Flag, Flagstaff can’t give the little ephemeral stream too much attention.

At nearly every twist and turn, the city and volunteer groups have lavished it with trails, holding ponds, marshes, interpretive signs and regular cleanups.

And if there are sections without those amenities, then there are plans to change that. It’s a far cry from when townsfolk referred to the “River de Flag” and used it to dispose of trash – or worse.

In recent decades, the portion of the Rio de Flag that runs through downtown has surfaced as a major flooding threat, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. But although the Corps has placed nearby properties in a 100-year-floodplain, thus limiting their development prospects, it hasn’t come through with much money to fix the problem. After years of delay, the cost to widen and deepen the channel has ballooned to $90 million, although some locals believe the city could do it for about $30 million less. (read more...)


More news...


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

*Riparian habitats are water-dependent ecosystems characterized by rich and diverse groups of plants and animals. A vanishingly rare community resource for Flagstaff, riparian ecosystems play a key role in reducing flood peaks, enhancing water quality and groundwater replenishment, as well as providing wildlife habitat, open space and recreational opportunities.


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