We are a diverse, motivated group of volunteers working together toward common goals. Our members come from all age groups, walks of life, and backgrounds; each member brings unique skills and abilities, yet all share the love of being outdoors protecting and enhancing our forests.
A FEW REASONS FOR JOINING
FRIENDS OF NORTHERN ARIZONA FORESTS
We're dedicated to assisting the Forest Service and other resource management agencies in maintaining, protecting, and restoring the natural and cultural resources and the scenic beauty of our forest lands for the enjoyment and use of present and future generations. We are a solution-oriented volunteer group that works in partnership with these agencies to assist in tasks they do not have the staff or the funds to accomplish.
STATE OF THE ORGANIZATION 2020
After 36 years of living in Flagstaff I now realize there is no typical Flagstaff when it comes to weather or many other things. We went from an average winter snowfall season right into the driest “nonsoon” seasons in recorded history. When you add in the challenges presented by the pandemic* FoNAF volunteers once again persevered and provided a wealth of volunteer hours to the Forest Service and made our forests, near and wide, much better overall.
Our desire for more project diversification and broader geographic coverage was certainly achieved as summarized below:
The grand total for all Aspen Team activities as well as individual efforts are 4206 hours, an increase of approximately 10% and a new highest total ever. More impressive is this increase does not include PSAR and Back Country Permits volunteer hours since those two programs were cancelled for 2020.
During the year we worked with archeology, wildlife, silviculture, recreation and range crews and we greatly appreciate their assistance and cooperation. While much of our work was on the Flagstaff Ranger District, we did travel to the Mogollon Rim RD several times working on tasks associated with the three infamous U. of Montana ecological research exclosures.
In spite of numerous challenges* our membership is rebounding and the aspen team is definitely getting larger. With increased team membership and mechanization through the addition of the power pounder and power winder, we’re becoming more efficient and effective. Several team members have received additional training and certification for UTV operations and this has helped on many of our tasks, especially old fence removals.
Tom Mackin, President
*How FoNAF Addressed Covid-19 Safety Complications Yet Increased Volunteer Hours
Below is the lead article in the October 2020 Newsletter about FoNAF’s dedication to safety precautions while remaining very productive during the Corona Virus pandemic:
" It was pretty certain back in March when FoNAF President Tom Mackin announced all planned Aspen Team activities were suspended due to Covid-19 that our normal work environment would be turned upside down for the summer and beyond.
Reflecting on those initial emotions two words became the mantra: perseverance and flexibility. With the leadership and guidance of Dave Downes, Aspen Team Coordinator, a plan was put together and approved by the board of directors to move forward with caution and safety in identifying and completing projects. Although the official start for the announced outings came in late June, Dave and Tom Mackin organized small “swat teams” to work on critical issues in the forest needing immediate assistance (see the March Newsletter for details on these activities).
Tom called an emergency Zoom board meeting on May 5, 2020 to consider a motion from Dave on restarting the Aspen Team outside activities on or about May 15th incorporating a set of rules and guidelines consistent with Forest Service expectations.
Below is a summary of that meeting:
After much discussion primarily focused on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks to the team especially given our average ages, the consensus of the attendees was that it is still too early to consider restarting the whole team to undertake projects. We recognized that a few outings will be necessary to undertake “mission critical” projects such as emergency repairs to existing fences and watering of the new aspen saplings planted last year. These outings will be undertaken at the discretion of Tom and Dave and will involve as few others as are considered necessary to accomplish the tasks.
Decision: Reconvene the board on or about June 1st to revisit this issue.
When Dave contacted board members individually on June 1st the virus was only getting more invasive and prolific, requiring “flexibility” in the timing and structure of the projects to be worked under the new circumstances. Well thought- out and strict guidelines Dave and Tom proposed for the Aspen Team were accepted by the board and the Forest Service so the following rules were adopted --“perseverance.”
We will avoid any projects that require ladders so no new aspen exclosure work. Social distancing will be a firm requirement and we will ask each volunteer to remind others if he or she is concerned that another team member is getting too close. Masks will be encouraged and required for certain actions. We will not be using Forest Service vehicles so team members will be required to drive to the work site and this will be a consideration for our selection of sites.
Although these requirements provided team parameters, Dave wanted more specific rules for volunteers to agree upon and follow while working at Aspen Team projects. Each volunteer was presented with a written list of policies and asked to sign a copy to reflect their complete awareness and understanding of what’s expected. The document below states expected behaviors which are now being followed:
Forest Service restrictions of 10 volunteers per outing and one person per vehicle created additional challenges that meant less work could be completed per outing, but flexibility once again kicked in. Instead of one outing per week as the Aspen Team does in normal times, Dave and Tom felt comfortable in attempting two outings per week. This allowed for more opportunities for volunteering in case the limit of ten is met quickly and most importantly the back log of less aggressive projects could be completed quickly.
At this point in the year all is well with meeting the revised project completion goals and no reports of Covid-19 related illnesses have been made by volunteers. Volunteers have successfully adapted to the new working rules and safety requirements. But most of all everyone is happy to again be in the forest and enjoying outdoors productively.
The attention to safety rules and project selection by Dave and Tom has been successful and have allowed for continued high volunteer participation and much needed work in the forest."