explore, enjoy and protect arizona with the palo verde group!

The Sierra Club's Palo Verde Group serves Central Arizona and the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.
We promote environmental stewardship while enjoying the great state of Arizona and all its splendors

march program:
befriending the tonto with patti fenner

thursday, march 19, 2015 | 6:30pm to 8pm

the living space at rollover donuts
10 west vernon (encanto light rail station)
across central avenue from the heard museum in phoenix

Join us in the living space at Rollover Donuts as we celebrate OUR Tonto National Forest with a presentation by Patti Fenner of Friends of Tonto National Forest!

Managing a national forest like the Tonto not only requires the efforts of dedicated employees, but also of partners and volunteers who contribute to the continued health of the forest.

Friends of the Tonto National Forest is a group of volunteers who assist the U.S. Forest Service in its critical mission of natural and cultural resource management. They promote public understanding of the Tonto's policies, programs and projects through community outreach, projects and outings. Their partners include a number of Federal and State agencies,  conservation and recreational groups, universities, and private citizens.

Patti Fenner recently retired from the Tonto National Forest. Being unable to kick the habit, she has founded a new non-profit organization, Friends of the Tonto National Forest. In this month's program, Ms. Fenner will introduce her organization and discuss ways we all can enjoy and protect the Tonto.

Ms. Fenner earned a degree in Botany at ASU, then went on to a Master’s program in Natural Resource Management, to put the botany degree to practical use. As she graduated in 1980, the Tonto National Forest created a new Range Conservationist job on the Cave Creek Ranger District, in partial fulfillment of terms of a lawsuit by the Audubon Society to improve grazing management along the Salt and Verde Rivers. From her initial job, she learned that it is infinitely better to manage grazing than to plant cottonwood poles and saplings along the Verde River. In 1990, her son was born at the same time she was promoted to Range Staff on the Cave Creek Ranger District. 

In 2003, she was offered the chance to create the Forest’s first Invasive Plant program. She spent many hours discovering infestations and mapping them across the entire Forest; and working with District personnel, volunteers, and other organizations and agencies to control them. She developed a program with ADOT so that no equipment can move dirt in new highway construction projects through the Tonto until all invasive plants in the right-of-way have been controlled. 

She retired in March 2014, and immediately began work to create a non-profit organization to help the Forest with natural and cultural resource management projects, as federal budgets and staffing have made it difficult for Tonto employees to do their jobs. A part of the Friends mission is to do outreach with the public, informing them of Forest policies, programs and projects. The Friends now has a website, a Board of Directors, and has completed their first event, a litter cleanup along the Lower Salt River. They have adopted the Forest’s riparian photopoint program, which includes photopoints at nearly 1100 sites. They look forward to taking on a wide diversity of interesting projects and working with partners such as the Sierra Club.

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