Monthly Archives: April 2017

May 4th @ 6pm: Instituting FEET – Flagstaff Environmental Education Team

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The Rio connects Flagstaff, and we can use it for collaborative educational purposes.
Photo: Chelsea describes watershed features during Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017. Photo courteous of Anya Nova Metcalfe.

Instituting FEET: Flagstaff Environmental Education Team

Speaker: Dr. Neil Cobb, NAU Research Professor and Director of the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research

Thursday, May 4th at 6pm

Montoya Community Center

As America’s 1st STEM Community, Flagstaff is poised to integrate a robust education-outreach program that will take advantage of the 20+ STEM-oriented local organizations and schools, by engaging students in science through inquiry-based curricula and activities.

Join us on Thursday, May 4th as we hear from Dr. Neil Cobb on Instituting FEET: the Flagstaff Environmental Education Team. Neil is a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University and Director of the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

In coordination with organizations throughout Flagstaff, including the Friends of the Rio de Flag, Neil is leading the FEET team to engage the community in local education, research, and restoration.

We hope to see you next Thursday, May 4th to hear from Neil, and to find out how the Friends of the Rio de Flag can best participate in FEET

Rio Awareness Wrap Up

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Chelsea points out watershed features during Earth Day 2017 at Heritage Square. Photo courteous of Anya Nova Metcalfe.

Dear friends and family,

I am overjoyed to announce that last week we met and surpassed our fundraising goal to support my second service term with the Friends of the Rio de Flag! I am very grateful for all of your support and can’t wait to spend another year giving back to this amazing community.

If you have not already, I invite you to join us for a public meeting on the first Thursdays of the month at 6pm at the Montoya Community Center (245 N Thorpe Rd). Every month we invite a different speaker to share information about ongoing projects in our watershed and other watersheds throughout Arizona. In addition, we host volunteer events during the year that we post to our website ( and our Facebook page.

I can’t thank you enough for your support for this project, and I look forward to sharing my progress over the course of the next year as I seek to provide outdoor, place-based experiences for youth in the community. And hopefully one day we’ll see these youth pursuing local careers that act to both strengthen our community and protect and restore our local watershed.

During our last week of the Rio Awareness, we introduced citizen science and its importance in protecting and restoring habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people alike. Stay in touch as we develop our own citizen science projects to collect data along the Rio de Flag! We will be rolling out these projects over the summer so that you can contribute your scientific observations about the Rio de Flag to our watershed planning efforts.

See you next time along the Rio!



Week 4 Rio Awareness

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Chelsea explains her progress over the last eight months on building the Adopt the Rio program during a membership meeting in early April, 2017.

With less than a week left of our fundraising campaign we’ve raised over 80% of our goal to support another year for our VISTA member, Chelsea. Please help us meet this goal before April 22nd by visiting our GoFundMe page, “Discovering Science along the Rio“. Thank you to all the friends and family who have helped us support Chelsea and her work!

Last week during our Rio Awareness campaign we focused on the importance of groundwater to our community and the Southwest in general. Groundwater provides environmental flows for creeks and gives of people the ability to inhabit arid regions of the nation.

We spent the first three weeks of our campaign focused on sources of water including springs, lakes, groundwater, and reclaimed water. This week and the coming week we focus on water users and their importance to the watershed.

People, wildlife, and plants make up the users of our watershed. While wildlife and plants use the watershed, people make decisions that affect the state of the watershed and, for that matter, the states of wildlife and plant life.

In order to sustainably manage our watershed, we must first understand its current state. For this reason, the Friends of the Rio de Flag is promoting youth education through the Adopt-the-Rio de Flag Stewardship program. Youth and community members alike will be better adapted to address pressing environmental issues if they understand their place and responsibility in the complex system that is a watershed.

Follow us on Facebook during our fundraising campaign to discover something new about the Rio every day!

Week 3 Rio Awareness

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Groundwater pumping directly affects rivers like the Verde River, Arizona’s last remaining perennial river. Click the image above to watch the Viva La Verde trailer produced by a group of partners in the Verde Valley.

We have reached Week 3 of our Rio Awareness campaign and this week’s theme is “Groundwater: the hidden, critical resource of the Southwest.”

Groundwater plays a vital role in supporting riparian habitats in Arizona including places like Oak Creek and the Verde River. We also rely upon groundwater for our water supply.

In Arizona, about 43% of drinking water originates from groundwater. Similarly, in Flagstaff about 40% of drinking water is drawn from the Lake Mary, Woody Mountain, Inner Basin, and local “in-city” wells. This precious resource is pumped from the C aquifer thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. The C aquifer overlies the Redwall-Muav aquifer and these two aquifers, along with perched water-bearing zones, comprise groundwater storage on the Coconino Plateau.

Recharge to the C aquifer usually only occurs when snow is melting and running off, and only 2 to 4 percent of all annual precipitation contributes to this recharge (Guest Column to the AZ Daily Sun, March 2016). While snowmelt and rainfall provide some recharge to the aquifer, groundwater pumping has and will continue to affect the environments supported by groundwater. As we plan for the future it will be especially important to consider these tradeoffs as our community grows and the climate changes.

We have just over two weeks left of our fundraising campaign and so far we’ve raised over 40% of our $4,500 goal to support another year for our VISTA member, Chelsea. Please help us meet this goal before April 22nd by visiting our GoFundMe page, “Discovering Science along the Rio“.

Follow us on Facebook during our fundraising campaign to discover something new about the Rio every day!


Week 2 Rio Awareness Campaign

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Visitors at Upper Lake Mary get their feet wet as water spills over the dam for the first time since 2010. March 17, 2017

Springs and lakes in the Flagstaff area 

During Week One of our campaign, we focused on the importance and challenges of wastewater use in Flagstaff and the Southwest. Read our guest column on the topic published last week in the AZ Daily Sun.

This week we focus on springs and lakes in the Flagstaff area. Both provide critical habitat for wildlife as well as unique recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. Consider visiting some of the springs of the Rio de Flag watershed on your own (see this list of springs with directions) or during Jack Welch’s “Where’s the Water?” walk series in April and May (here’s the schedule).

Springs and lakes supply an important source of drinking water for the Flagstaff community. Today, Upper Lake Mary is at 100% capacity meaning that a greater percentage of our drinking water will originate from the lake over the course of this year.

Follow us on Facebook during our fundraising campaign to discover something new about the Rio every day!