Hike the Monument, November 10, 2018

Hike the Monument, 2018!!

(Click here for a PDF of the information found below.)

The Friends of Ironwood Forest invites you to join us for Hike the Monument on Saturday, November 10th. You are welcome to choose from the following activities to explore and experience first-hand the wonders found in the Ironwood Forest National Monument. This event is conducted in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Native Plant Society, University of Arizona faculty and Old Pueblo Archaeology Center.


We have three outings planned this year.

  1. Cocoraque Butte Archaeological District – moderate terrain, challenging hike to see most of the petroglyphs up close.
  2. Waterman Mountain, Elephant Trees Botanical Hike – moderate / steep hike along the south side of Waterman Mountain (you will also see the endangered Nichols Turk’s Head Cactus).
  3. Nature Hike, Sonoran Desert Botany, Geology and Cacti – easy terrain, family oriented FUN and EDUCATIONAL WALK to view and learn about the life and history of the Sonoran Desert. This hike has 4, FOUR, EXPERT leaders with decades of EXPERIENCE and the ability to relate to YOU!

The Cocoraque Butte Archaeological District and Waterman Elephant Tree hikes are LIMITED.  

PLEASE SIGN UP EARLY! (just in case you missed it) PLEASE SIGN UP EARLY!

The NATURE WALK will accommodate EVERYONE interested in a LEISURELY FAMILY ORIENTED WALK on easy desert terrain.

Please let us know the hike you’d like to go on and the number of folks you are bringing. We will send you a confirmation email letting you know if you are on the hike roster or on a wait list. Cocoraque Butte and the Waterman Elephant Tree Hikes require high clearance vehicles. Please let us know if you are signing up for one of these two hikes, have a high clearance vehicle, and are willing to drive to the trail head carrying some additional hikers.

Please remember to dress in layers, appropriate for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, lunch, and your camera (binoculars are also very helpful). There are no restrooms or other facilities available on the hikes. Restrooms ARE available at the Marana Airport before we leave for our respective trail heads.

NOVEMBER 10th, all hikes will meet at the Marana Regional Airport at 11700 W Avra Valley Road. The Marana Airport is located 5 miles WEST of the I-10 and Avra Valley Road, exit 242.

Schedule of Events
7:30 – 8:00am sign in
8:00 – 8:30am briefing
8:30 – 9:00am car pools form up and depart

Expect that hikes will complete no later than 2pm and return to the airport by 3pm. The Marana Regional Airport is at 11700 W Avra Valley Rd, 5 miles west of the I-10 and Avra Valley Road exit 242. Restrooms are available in the Marana Airport Operations building. Detailed descriptions:

  1. Cocoraque Butte Archaeological District Hike. Join Allen Dart, Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, accompanied by Lin and Gordon Hanson, Saguaro National Park West Environmental Educational Ranger and Archaeology Preservation Volunteer, on this educational hike. Cocoraque Butte is one of the sites offering abundant rock art and other archaeological objects of scientific interest within the Monument. Humans have inhabited the area for more than 13,000 years. At least 150 sites from the prehistoric Hohokam period (ca. A.D. 650-1450) are recorded in the area. Expect unusual petroglyphs that you may not have seen before and bring your camera and/or binoculars. Also, expect moderate rocky terrain on this hike. The trek from the parking area to the petroglyph sites is a relatively flat and easy hike. Getting up to the petroglyphs is challenging for some hikers because you need to scramble up and around boulders and bedrock on a 120-foot-high butte to see many of the petroglyphs. You must be in good physical condition to go on the hike. Pack water (one to two quarts), snacks, lunch and sunscreen. Don’t forget your hat and camera.
  2. Waterman Mountain Elephant Tree Botanical Hike. This is an adventurous and fun, moderate to difficult, hike that covers about 3.5 miles round trip, walking on loose rocks in steep terrain. Accumulated elevation gain is about 650 ft. High-clearance vehicles are needed for this hike and carpooling in available. Drew Milsom, University of Arizona, is leading this hike. We hike an old steep mining road in the Waterman Mountains to find the Elephant Trees and endangered Nichols Turks Head Cactus. The Waterman’s are a rare limestone uplift in the Sonoran Desert. There are lots of great plants to discuss along the way, as well as opportunities to view the unique geology of the mountains. You will also see evidence of the mining conducted in the Waterman’s. Pack water, snacks, lunch and sunscreen. Don’t forget your hat and camera and/or binoculars.
  3. Nature Hike. An easy paced 3 mile (or so) hike. Learn the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert and about the geologic and topographic variability that contributes to the area’s high biological diversity. Walk along with naturalist and botanist Ries Lindley and co-leaders Bill Thornton (the cacti know him by name), Bill Peachey, geologist and Saguaro specialist and Rachel Feuerbach, U of A geologist. This is a family oriented nature hike, children are welcome. High clearance vehicles are not required for this hike. The Nature Hike generally ends well before 2pm. Pack water, snacks, lunch and sunscreen. Don’t forget your hat and camera. There is no limit to what you may learn, how much fun you can have learning it or the number of hikers!!

To sign up for a hike – send an email message to [email protected] or leave a message at 520-628-2092, this is an unattended number, be sure to leave a message, we WILL get back to you!.

Worth repeating:
The number of participants for Cocoraque Butte and the Waterman Elephant Tree Hikes are limited, sign up early!

Please specify which hike you would like to sign up for, the number of folks with you, and whether or not you have a high-clearance vehicle and are willing to drive to the hike starting point.

All hikes will meet up at the Marana Airport on Avra Valley Road between 7:30 and 8:00 am on Saturday, November 10th. We expect to be done hiking no later than 2 pm and to return to the airport by 3 pm. The Marana Airport is located 5 miles West of I-10 and Avra Valley Road, exit 242.

Please remember to dress in layers, appropriate for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, lunch, and your camera. There are no restrooms or other facilities within the Monument. Some roads are not maintained.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

There is another Administration threat to funding for the environment and public parks, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. While this isn’t a direct threat to the Ironwood Forest National Monument, it is more of the continuing attack on DOI funding for the public’s benefit and how their funds are allocated internally away from open spaces. Read the fact sheet provided by The Wilderness Society by clicking here.

A Stealth Attack On Our Natural Heritage

This article first appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on July 24, 2018.

At this time last year, Ironwood Forest was undergoing the executive ordered “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres designated since 2000.  Read more…



Opposition to the Proposed Interstate I-11

The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying alternative routes for a new Interstate 11 highway. Their apparently favored route through Avra Valley would cut between the IFNM and Saguaro NP, Tucson Mountain Park and Tribal Lands. Such a route would seriously interrupt wildlife migration and add several kinds of pollution to these public lands. If the added traffic capacity is indeed warranted, we favor ADOT expanding the exiting I-10 corridor.

Pros and Cons of the Proposed Interstate, September 2018
Press Release Update, August 2018
Friends of the Ironwood Forest Letter of Opposition to I-11
I-11 Public Information Meetings
I-11 Coalition for Sonoran Desert ProtectionLetter to ADOT, June 2017
I-11 Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection Letter to ADOT, July 2016
I-11 Meeting Flyer
A Letter from the Avra Valley Coalition
ADOT Submission Statement on the Proposed I-11 Routes


Yesterday, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona proposed a last minute amendment, to the Department of Interior appropriations bill, that would cut off funding for the IFNM. His simple-minded amendment can be viewed by clicking here.
Last year, as you all know, the DOI “reviewed” 27 national monuments, including the Ironwood Forest. The IFNM, due in no small part to your comments and actions, was left untouched and unchanged. 
This last-ditch effort by a congressional representative to assuage a couple of his supporters is inappropriate, damaging and unfounded. 
We need you to let your representative in congress know how much you are against this Gosar amendment. It may come up for a vote tomorrow, so time is of the essence.
In particular, calls to these two Arizona representatives may be most effective:
Martha McSally at 202-225-2542
Kyrsten Senima at 202-225-9888

Get Involved in Mid-Terms

The current administration has been attacking national monuments, with tacit support from the current congress. The public has spoken, and has had some impact, but our government’s denial of climate change continues, the effort to shrink two national monuments continues, the cutting of park staff and budgets continues, allowing exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues, and the threat to the Antiquities Act itself remains. 

However, this is the year of the mid-term elections. It is an understatement to say it will be interesting to see if these elections affect the nature of congress. All 435 seats in the house and one-third of the 100 senate seats are up for a fresh evaluation by the electorate. 

As the election season heats up, there may be a number of opportunities for us all to ask questions of those running for these seats, prior to the primaries and then later, for the seats themselves. I thought it would be interesting to list some questions that one might consider asking in some of these open meetings and quorums that will be occurring around in our vicinity. 

1) Do you think the climate is warming or do you deny it? If you agree it’s warming, what will you do about it? 

2) Do you think the USA should support the Paris Climate Accord? If yes, how will you try to make this happen?

3) Do you support the continued permanent protection of all of our existing national parks, national monuments, and wildlife refuges? If yes, what will you do about it when elected? Do you favor drilling in the ANWR?

4) Do you know what the Antiquities Act of 1906 says? Do you support letting this law stand or would you favor limiting it in any way? 

5) Do you know that the Department of the Interior is cutting their budget for public lands staff and devoting more resources to support energy exploration? Do you think this is appropriate or not? If inappropriate, since congress has the final say on spending, what will you do to change Interior’s budget priorities?

6) Do you know that the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 gives congress authority over the use and management of public lands? If yes, what would you do regarding the protection of existing national monuments? 

What would you do to protect Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante from Trumps executive order to shrink them?

7) Would you consider legislative action to create or expand any national parks, national monuments, or wildlife refuges? 

Thanks to all for your actions related to protecting the Ironwood Forest National Monument and other public lands. And thanks to you for any and all of your renewed efforts to be heard as this mid-term year unfolds. 

Stay Up To Date

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Desert Bighorn Sheep Update

Arizona desert bighorn sheep thrive with help of conservationists – and hunters

Gabriel Sandler | Cronkite News
Thursday, March 22, 2018
MARANA – After a two-hour hike through rocky, cactus-studded terrain west of Marana – with a left knee that no longer bends – 70-year-old Joe Sheehey arrived at Silverbell Peak and spotted an Arizona desert bighorn sheep.

The ram stood at the edge of the summit, read more …

Harris Hawk Release

A Harris Hawk was released after last week’s press conference which Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) hosted with local environmental advocates highlighting the threat to Ironwood Forest National Monument and other national monuments across the country.

Left to right: Representative from Liberty Wildlife, Maria Klucarova from Supervisor Bronson’s office, Verlon Jose who is the Vice Chair Tohono O’odham Nation.

You can also view a video of the press conference by clicking here.

Fact v. Fiction

Bill Thornton separates fact from fiction in a letter published July 25 in the Arizona Daily Star. Bill addresses statements made by the Congressional Western Caucus, which includes three Arizona Congressman. Read Bill’s article here. Covered in the article are highlights from the letter the Caucus sent to Interior Secretary Zinke. Bill debunks statements such as the false implication that ranchers with grazing leases have concerns over access, that off highway vehicles are prohibited and that the monument has resulted in a loss of revenue for K-12 education.