AZ Forest Restoration - header

Volunteer - What We Do Section Title

What We Do

AZ Forest Restoration - stream survey

Stream surveys: documenting water across the landscape

Where is it wet, and where is it dry? Our citizen scientists set out on foot to learn about surface water in northern Arizona.

AZ Forest Restoration - Stream survey (text)

Project start date: 2016

Current status: To date, we've hiked more than 100 miles off-trail along the Mogollon Rim. Our volunteers use an app on their phones to mark where they find water in creek beds, stream channels, and washes.

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Our forests in northern Arizona are unnaturally dense — the result of past clear-cutting, historic overgrazing, and decades of fire supression. In addition to posing high risk of severe wildfire, too many trees has the side effect of sucking up a lot of water. Thinning our forests, then, should free up water from root systems and result in more water flowing downstream for fish, plants, animals, and people. We’re collecting baseline information, so that as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative progresses, we can understand how forest restoration activities are affecting our water resources.

Volunteers in action


AZ Forest Restoration - Toads

Toad surveys: how many are out there?

Grab your headlamps! We're setting out after dark in search of Arizona toads. The information we collect could help the native toad species gain additional protections. 

AZ Forest Restoration - Toads (text)

Start date: 2018

Current status: With the help of college forestry students, we'll be documenting the presence or absence of Arizona toads along the Mogollon Rim by listening for their calls and looking for egg masses floating on the edges of streams.

AZ Forest Restoration - Arizona Toad

AZ Forest Restoration - Arizona Toad
Photo and sound: Gary Nafis

Arizona toad

Anaxyrus microscaphus

Size: 2-3 inches

Range: Mainly found along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona 

Habitat: Shallow, flowing, permanent water

Listen to the Arizona toad call. Listen to the Arizona toad call.

AZ Forest Restoration - Toads (text 2)

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The Arizona toad, like amphibians across the world, is in decline. The native species has disappeared from 75 percent of its historic habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the status of the toad and could list it as a threatened species. The data we collect will help the Coconino National Forest plan for Arizona toad management and recovery. 


AZ Forest Restoration - Aquatic Habitat

Aquatic habitat surveys: finding pools for native fish

We sure love a good swimming hole. Turns out fish do too. We're searching for deep pools that could make suitable habitat for a threatened species of fish.

AZ Forest Restoration - Aquatic Habitat (text)

Start date: 2018

Current status: This is a new project in 2018. We're headed to the East Clear Creek area with volunteers to inventory drainages and look for suitable fish habitat. Boulder-hop downstream with us ›

What are we measuring?

  • Stream flow — We're looking for places with slow current. It takes less energy for fish to hang out in pools than hold their ground in fast water.
  • Channel depth and width — We're looking for deep channels that will stay cool all summer long.
  • Vegetation cover — We're looking for places that fish can hide.

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What makes a good fish home? For the Little Colorado spinedace, large, deep pools in permanent streams are prime real estate. The four-inch silvery minnow used to live throughout northern Arizona but now is one of the most threatened species in the Southwest. We're scouting out potential spinedace habitat, looking for nooks in streams that will remain deep and cool throughout a hot, dry summer. The information we collect will help inform the Forest Service's spinedace management plan, as well as identify places suitable for reintroduction.

Volunteer - CTA (volunteer with us)

Volunteer with us!

AZ Forest Restoration - why care

Forests play a key role in capturing, filtering, and supplying clean water for the communities, plants, and animals that live nearby. The state of Arizona only receives about 12 inches of rain each year, so it's important to conserve and protect our scarce water resources. 

What are the threats?

Climate change — Climate change is already affecting the Colorado Plateau, and scientists agree that the Southwest will continue to get hotter and drier over the coming decades. For forests, this means increased stress from drought, invasive species, pest outbreaks, and fires.

Wildfire — Big blazes not only threaten homes and infrastructure, but they also send loads of ash and debris into our waterways, which can kill aquatic life and impact water quality.

Volunteers in Action Blog


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Volunteers do the heavy lifting so native plants and wildlife have healthy water sources in the forest.

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