Friends of Northern Arizona Forests

Role of the Stewards of Aspen Exclosures

Friends of Northern Arizona Forests is currently responsible for some 50 aspen exclosures in the Flagstaff Ranger District. Each of these exclosures has been adopted by a member of Friends of Northern Arizona Forests. As stewards of these exclosures, our obligations include three maintenance phases.

1. Inspection

At least twice a year, we are to inspect each exclosure, do what repairs we can do on the spot and report any work that should be undertaken and is beyond our individual ability. Needed work should be classified as that which should be done quickly or the exclosure will be compromised versus work that needs to be done to make it more effective in the long run. The routine inspections are usually done in the spring and fallundefinedafter the snow has melted but before the elk have returned and in the fall before hunting season. It is not a bad idea to also check them in the winter after wet/heavy snowfalls and after wind storms. While one person can usually do an inspection, we always recommend traveling in pairs for safety reasons. We should direct our reports to the Friends of Northern Arizona Forests aspen project coordinator and to the Forest Service silviculturist responsible for all the exclosures on the Flagstaff Ranger District.

In summary, here’s a good inspection schedule.

Spring: as soon as the snowpack has (largely) melted; hence April or May.
Late summer: before woodcutting and hunting start in earnest; hence late August or early September.
Early winter: after woodcutting and hunting have (largely) ended; hence mid- December. Recommended if the weather cooperates and you have the time.

We are trying to determine which groups are cutting fences and why. If we see a suspicious break, we should try to determine the cause, for example, by following tire tracks in the grass and finding signs of recent woodcutting. We should include such information in our report. If we observe a perpetrator in the act, we should call the FS Dispatcher at 928-527-3552 for immediate assistance.

2. Urgent repairs

Friends of Northern Arizona Forests will provide assistance to a steward who has identified an urgent problem with an exclosure. The Friends of Northern Arizona Forests aspen project coordinator will ask members of a crew of Friends of Northern Arizona Forests volunteers who are committed to providing assistance of this type to undertake the work as soon as possible. The crew will need to know what types of repairs are needed and what equipment and material are required.

3. Long-term maintenance.

Finally there are the long-term improvements that are needed to insure that the exclosures can be effective until it is safe to remove the fences. This could involve cutting down dead trees that threaten the fence, stretching sagging sections, redoing old repairs, replacing 8’ T-posts with 10’ T-posts and raising the fence in areas where it was either built less than 8’ high or the posts have sunk. On the larger exclosures, these activities will usually be undertaken on a Saturday workday when other members of Friends of Northern Arizona Forests and the general public are invited to participate.

Currently, the Friends of Northern Arizona Forests aspen project coordinator is Dave Downes (

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