Friends of Northern Arizona Forests



State of the Organization

October 2016

President’s Annual Statement on FoNAF

President Tom Mackin provided an overview of Friends of Northern Arizona Forests status and accomplishments for 2016 at the annual meeting on October 19, 2016. 

From many perspectives he stated it has been a very good year for FoNAF, and he thinks we’ve again made many significant contributions to the Forest Service and northern Arizona forests in general.   The number of projects completed and areas of involvement have continued from the upward trajectory established in 2015.

He acknowledged the continuing efforts of the Aspen Team to move toward more diversification in geographical and project interests beyond fences in the immediate Flagstaff forests.  Examples he noted are assisting with pronghorn fence modifications, building log worm fences, wetlands preservation, expanding to the Mogollon Rim area for protection of sensitive riparian meadows, aspen regeneration along highway 180, and providing support to Ralph Baierlein with construction of experimental aspen sapling locations.

Tom feels these expanded opportunities are due in part to improved interface with the National Forest agencies we support.  He expressed his appreciation to the Forest Service representative in attendance for providing trucks, UTV’s, and equipment.  Mark Nabel has done an outstanding job in acquiring crews to assist the Aspen Team.

Since FoNAF’s founding in 2009 the Aspen Team has been the focal point of most activities, and 2016 was no exception.  But Tom is also very pleased with the other two primary FoNAF activities:

  • Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) coordinated by Bill Waters, and
  • Back Country Permits at the Snowbowl, coordinated by Dave Downes.

As he indicated, PSAR is an evolving effort in cooperation with the Forest Service and NAU that will be expanded next year to help more hikers and improve early awareness.  Back Country Permits has been an ongoing service and will again be on FoNAF’s agenda for this winter.  

Tom highlighted other significant items and they are as follows:


  • FoNAF contributed over 4000 volunteer hours this year to a variety of events and projects.  The Aspen Team exceeded 2000 hours and did them without an accident or injury.
  • Treasury is very strong due to the Forest Service ability to provide surplus fencing and building materials, sharing tools, and receiving grant funds for propagation projects.
  • Conversion of the Newsletter to computer generated and delivery tools also had a positive effect financially by saving around $1200 in expenses.
  • Although membership numbers have dropped, many of the new members are active volunteers in our outdoor projects and have helped to spread the load out


In summary, Tom is very pleased with the organization, its membership, and the working relationship with the Forest Service.  He’s looking forward to another amazing year in 2017.  He is very proud of what we achieved in 2016 and thanked everyone for all their time and effort in making 2016 so successful.

State of the Organization

October 2015

President’s Overview

In addition to our maintenance of over 65 aspen protection exclosures, we built a third aspen propagation study exclosure near Fern Mountain, issued over 250 Back Country Permits at Snowbowl, worked on meadow restoration exclosures on both the Mogollon Rim District and the Flagstaff District.  Our new projects included the construction of several log worm fences to reduce unauthorized access, and to support a new Forest Service Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) program at the Humphreys Summit Trailhead with the Sheriff’s Office and NAU.

With such a broad base of projects to choose from, we think there’s now something for everyone.

Expanded Scope of Projects Beyond Fences

  • We planted almost 300 aspen suckers in the third and final propagation study to find browse resistant clones,
  • FoNAF teamed with the Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife crews and other volunteers from the Arizona Antelope Foundation and Arizona Elk Society to modify miles of range and allotment fences to make them more wildlife friendly and easier to traverse. This project will continue for a few more years as wildlife staff has identified over 50 miles of fences needing improvements. 

New Silviculturist Welcomed

We welcomed the arrival of the new Flagstaff Ranger District silviculturist, Mark Nable, from the Kaibab NF and we quickly filled his plate with construction tasks. Included were two new aspen exclosures near Wing Mountain and two more near Mormon Lake. Mark was invaluable getting preparation done at both of these sites, working with fire crews in removing snags and conifers, as well as ripping the soil to stimulate sucker growth.

Membership and Board of Directors

Our membership has also improved this year with almost a 10% net increase in members and, hopefully, with the diversity of our projects and activities, we can continue to attract folks that want to be a part of the solutions we work on. At our annual meeting we elected two new board members, Tony DeCou and Bill Waters, both very active volunteers for some time now. Unfortunately we also bid goodbye to two longtime FoNAF supporters, Mary Natali and Bill Rahr and they’ll be sorely missed. I’m very proud to be a part of this organization and I want to thank each and every member and supporter for all of their dedication and hard work. 

Specific accomplishments are outlined in the summaries below for each area of interest.

Aspen Team

2015 has been one of the most productive years since FoNAF’s inception for the Aspen Team: 

  • We built five new exclosures for aspen: two at Maxwell Spring, two at LaNegrita Tank and one off FR151 for the aspen propagation project. 
  • In addition we built a large exclosure at Buck Spring (Mogollon Rim District) to protect a riparian area and a small exclosure near The Nature Conservancy; both contain some newly planted Bebb willows. 
  • New to the Aspen Team was constructing two log-worm fences, one at Brolliar Park and one at Babbitt Spring.Working with some of the wildlife crew,
  • We rebuilt several miles of pasture and right-of-way fences, replacing the bottom strand of barbed with smooth wire to facilitate the passage of pronghorn on the Flagstaff District. 
  • We did all the above while monitoring and maintaining more than 65 exclosures on the Flagstaff and Mogollon Rim districts. 

Our Aspen Team is now at 20 and we were delighted to welcome five new members this past season – Ron Bauman, Mea Stees, Trevor Hinckley, Vince Stento and Chuck Adams.

Back Country Permits

FoNAF volunteers issued 351 Back Country Permits during the winter months at the Snowbowl.  We normally have two volunteers on winter weekend mornings from 9:00-11:30 issuing free permits at Agassiz Lodge.  Before issuing a permit we provide applicants with information on the dangers they face related to weather and avalanches, and on essential equipment they should carry with them. 

Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR)

The PSAR project involved 20 FoNAF volunteers that were organized by FoNAF board members John Holmes and Marty Lee to support the USFS Flagstaff District project to reduce search and rescue incidents on the trail up Arizona’s highest peak, Mt. Humphrey.  Brian Poturalksi, Recreation and Wilderness Staff Officer, with Laura James, Forestry Technician/Recreation, and Darcy Lewis, a seasonal volunteer, were the drivers within the USFS to encourage FoNAF to lead the volunteer program.  Marty Lee linked this program to her forestry students at NAU recruiting Mike Suggs, a graduate student in forestry, to be project head for the PSAR effort.

Volunteers were at Mt. Humphrey’s trailhead each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm mid-May to Labor Day, to provide those starting the climb with information that would help them make good decisions.  Hikers were advised at both the trailhead and as we hiked the trail. 

Note:  This program has replaced the Trail Ambassadors sub-group.


State of the Organization

October 2014


Aspen Team

            Dave Downes continued with his coordination of the Aspen Team, 14 FoNAF members responsible for the maintenance of over 50 existing exclosures as well as the construction of new protected areas. Volunteer hours by the Aspen Team included 770 working on needed repairs to 20 exclosures, 350 hours on repairs or modifications to 6 wet meadow protection fences, and 98 hours in support of the aspen propagation project.  In total, the group provided 1218 hours that was worth approximately $25,000 to the FS.




Back Country Permits

            Dave Downes also coordinated the project to issue back country permits last winter at the Arizona Snowbowl.  Numerous FoNAF members contributed 180 hours on ski season weekends, a total of 31 days and while the back country received little natural snow, some weekends the volunteers were quite busy, issuing 254 permits for the season.  Dave will coordinate again in the coming winter. 




Trail Ambassadors

            This year the Trail Ambassador program met with little support and involvement, in spite of the numerous efforts and actions by program coordinator John Holmes. Discussions and plans for next season are currently underway and some new ideas have been presented to the

Forestfor consideration.



Propagating Aspen Clones

              FoNAF has a five-year grant to find aspen stands that resist browsing and to propagate those clones.  In 2013, the first exclosure was constructed and over 300 seedlings planted. This year another exclosure was built and 330 additional seedlings were planted, both inside and outside the new exclosure. In response to the high mortality observed this year to the 2013 planting, primarily from gophers and other possible small mammals, chicken wire protective cones were installed for each seedling planted in 2014. To date, we have not achieved any of the hoped for browse resistance but we’ll continue to monitor for that outcome.





            Thanks go out to Mary Natali and Marty Lee for once again handling the publishing of our Spring newsletter.  Right now, Mary and Marty are working on the Fall issue and short articles of interest are always welcome.




Miscellaneous items

            At the request of the FS, FoNAF volunteers worked on several wet meadow/riparian area exclosure fences, on both the Flagstaff Ranger District and the Mogollon Rim Ranger District. We plan to continue these efforts and possibly expand these volunteer opportunities as there are many similar areas needing protection.






Grants and Special Income

            In its four and one-half years of existence, FoNAF has received five   grants.  Two of them remained active:


  1. RACor Forest Service.  $28,000 (plus overhead).  A five-year grant to support the project to propagate browse-resistant aspen clones.
  2.  OHV & Polaris.  $10,000 to purchase trail signs for OHV traffic to help the FS implement the Travel Management Rule. Expenditures are now complete and this grant has been finalized.


        Prepared by Tom Mackin,President



State of the Organization

in October 2013


Back Country Permits
     Last winter, Dave Downes coordinated the project to issue Back Country Permits.  The volunteers at Snowbowl issued 342 permits, an astonishing number.  Speaking for the Forest Service, Pat McGervey noted that this was the first year in his memory that all the permits were issued by volunteers: no need for Forest Service staff.  I’d add that all those volunteers were members of FoNAF. Dave will coordinate again in the coming winter and welcomes your participation. 

Trail Ambassadors
     Mountain bikers, equestrians, and hikers filed 35 reports in 2013.  Those reports were filed by only 10 persons and totaled only 60% of what was achieved in 2012.  John Holmes, our coordinator, certified one new Trail Ambassador, Dave Hall.  We’ll need to find ways to increase participation.  It’s on our agenda for 2014.

OHV & Polaris
     FoNAF received a grant of $10,000 to purchase trail signs for OHV traffic.  The signs have been purchased, and the Forest Service has installed them.  We closed out the grant in September.  The Forest Service was highly pleased with the administrative help that Dave Downes, as FoNAF’s treasurer, provided.

Aspen Fencesundefinedand Willow Fences, too
     Dave Downes led our efforts to repair and build fences.  Our previous silviculturalist for aspen projects, Patty Ringle, moved to a Forest Service job in Oregon late last year.  In June, Shawn Martin moved from the Mogollon Rim Ranger District to become our silviculturalist for aspen.  Shawn and the Aspen Team quickly developed excellent rapport, and we’re glad to have Shawn as a partner.
     Because of the transition, two other projects, and the inability of the Forest Service to prepare sites, FoNAF sponsored only one public work day for exclosures: an event in August to build a new exclosure in the Bebb willow restoration area, just south of the Nature Conservancy’s Hart Prairie Preserve.  We also placed informative “Willow Restoration” signs on the new exclosure plus two willow exclosures that we repaired in 2012.  An example appears below.

     Dave now keeps records on 55 functioning exclosures.  They’re in the best shape they’ve been in since their constructionundefinedsometimes 20 or 30 years ago.
     Moreover, both Tom Mackin and Dave Hall have been certified in chain-saw work by the Forest Service.  No longer does FoNAF need to wait months to have someone in the Forest Service cut out a tree that’s fallen on a fence.  In fact, in late September, Tom set the current record for speed by cutting out a tree within one day of its falling.
     The Forest Service’s fiscal year runs from October 1st through September 30th.  For fiscal year 2013, the total volunteer hours on the public work day, by the Aspen Team, and by stewards exceeded 1,530 hours.  Already at the minimum, the time was worth approximately $31,900 to the Forest Service.

Propagating Aspen Clones
     FoNAF has a five-year grant to find aspen stands that resist browsing and to propagate those clones.  Again we had a successful year.  Bill Kluwin, John Holmes, and I collected 36 meters of aspen roots.  At the NAU Greenhouse, Phil Patterson incubated the roots and has produced some 350 healthy saplings from this year’s roots. 
      The big news, however, focuses on the saplings that Phil grew from the roots collected in 2012.  At the end of July, a crew from the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps planted 380 saplings on a test site that lies on the north-facing slope of the Hochderffer Hills.  Of those saplings, 130 were planted inside an exclosure, where they serve as controls.  Outside the fence, 250 saplings are being prepared to test their resistance to browsing by elk and deer.  For the first year, those saplings are being protected by plastic cones and mesh sleeves.  The protection will enable the saplings to send out lateral roots and establish themselves.  In July 2013, we’ll strip off the protection and see how the saplings fare when exposed to the browsers.

      Here are some photos.

Aspen saplings ready to leave the greenhouse


CREC crew member Kat planting a sapling.

 The CREC crew watering the saplings: a gallon each



 Informative signs like this appear at each corner of the site 

    The sequestration of federal funds has reduced the funds available for the propagation project.  In fall 2012, FoNAF was invited to apply for an additional $8,400.  The money would have enabled us to hire a CREC crew annually through July 2016.  The dollar amount was then cut back to $7,600, but the smaller number was approved.  During the spring and early summer of 2013, we waited for the funds to be released by the Washington office.  When the release came, sequestration had cut down the total money available to the Forest Service, and FoNAF’s grant proposal was eliminated entirely.
     Our original grant (of $28,000) remains intact and will pay for greenhouse work through July 2016.  Funds to hire a CREC crew, however, will reach only through July 2015undefinedat most.

     To read more about this project, click on Browse-resistant Aspen.

Pronghorn Project
     In Kendrick Park, FoNAF worked with AZ Game & Fish and other groups to shift three miles of cattle fences back from the highway so that pronghorns can cross the highway more readily.  Aspen Team members devoted 43 person-days to the project.  (That’s more than 320 volunteer hours.)  Also, FoNAF arranged for a fire crew from the prison complex in Winslow to help out.  A crew of 18 inmates worked hard and enthusiastically. 
     If you drive out to Kendrick Park and look around, you’ll see that most fences are now more than 500 feet from the highway.  The pronghorns can crawl under a fence and relax in a wide swath of meadow before they cross the highway to another equally wide and psychologically comfortable swath of meadow.


Scotty attaching barbed wire to a vertical post that FoNAF had cemented into place.

     In Mary Natali’s absence, Marty Lee and I published a Spring newsletter.  Right now, Mary and Marty are working on the Fall issue.

Historical Markers
     At the request of the Forest Service, FoNAF has adopted three historical markers or sites: near Snowbowl, near Mormon Lake, and in the cinder hills north of Doney Park.  The stewards are Collis Lovely, Norm Mayes, and Dave Hall, respectively.  The cinder hills site was a training ground for the astronauts who traveled cross-country on our moon.

The year in a nutshell
     All in all, FoNAF had a highly productive year.  Moreover, we achieved that productivity while maintaining a wonderful camaraderieundefinedor perhaps because of that camaraderie.  FoNAF is a great group to work with.

Notes by Ralph Baierlein, President





A brief chronology shows our accomplishments prior to 2012:

Winter 2010-11. Again, FoNAF coordinates the issuing of backcountry permits at Snowbowl.

December 2010. FoNAF submits its second grant proposal: Propagating Aspen Clones: Survival in the 21st Century. The Arboretum at Flagstaff joins FoNAF in this ten-year project to propagate aspen clones that can flourish without the protection of fences. [Approval received in early January 2011.]

May-November 2010. FoNAF and the public repair and raise six miles of exclosure fences. Value to the Forest Service: $35,000.

April 2010. FoNAF receives its first grant ($1000 in matching funds) for the Greater Hart Prairie Aspen Protection Project.

Winter 2009-10. FoNAF coordinates the issuing of backcountry permits at Snowbowl and provides most of the volunteers.

November 2009. First public workday to protect young aspen (by repairing “exclosures:” fences seven feet high that exclude elk, deer, and livestock from stands of young aspen).

August-October 2009. FoNAF staffs fire lookout towers.

August 2009. IRS grants tax-exempt status to Friends of Northern Arizona Forests (FoNAF).

April 2009. The Forest Service in Flagstaff invites volunteers to form an organization similar to Sedona’s Friends of the Forest. (Five volunteers show up--not a great start.)














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