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National Public Lands Day
September 26, 2020

Since 1994, National Public Lands Day (NPLD) has historically been the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. Held on the 4th Saturday in September, this event draws thousands of volunteers across the country to support their local public lands. They’re called public lands but they include rivers, lakes and reservoirs, as well as national parks, monuments (like Ironwood Forest), wildlife refuges, forests and grasslands as well as state, county, and city parks that are managed by federal, state, and local governments. Our public lands offer outdoor spaces for us to explore year round, something that has become even more important during the pandemic. And to make sure these places are kept in good condition for generations to come, we must make a commitment to care for them.

For several years, Friends of Ironwood Forest has coordinated a volunteer event on NPLD where volunteers have gathered to clean up trash, remove old fencing, replace signage, replant vegetation, and more. This year, to support public health recommendations, Friends of Ironwood Forest held a virtual visit. Public lands supporters were able to tour three important sites in the IFNM from their computer. The event helped raise awareness about IFNM and how volunteers support its continued protection. The goal was for participants to get inspired to visit and ideally volunteer on their public lands including the amazing Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Titan Missile Site (map)
Located near the Waterman restoration site, about ¼ mile south of Avra Valley Road, this piece of land is a decommissioned Titan II missile site, still owned by the United States Air Force and managed by the BLM as an interpretive site. In 2020 volunteers will plant native palo verde and ironwood seeds to promote native plant restoration within the perimeter of the memorial. Read more here.

Silverbell Group Camping Site (map)
The only dedicated camping site in IFNM, this site was enhanced by the BLM and volunteers to accommodate multiple vehicles. The objective was to allow visitors to camp in IFNM without needing to travel undeveloped roads to get to a site.  Read more here.

Waterman Restoration Site (map
Located on the north side of the Waterman Mountains, about ½ mile south of Avra Valley Road. Arizona Native Plants Society has led a project to restore 18 acres of desert that was bladed with a bulldozer in the 1980s. Restoration activities at the site have included soil preparation, various native plant propagation techniques, vertical mulching, and water flow mitigation. Read more here.

Join Friends of Ironwood Forest for a LIVE virtual visit of Ironwood Forest National Monument on Saturday September 26, at 9am. More information is on our Facebook event page.

Meet our interns!

Partners who also offer volunteer opportunities:
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
Arizona Native Plants Society, Tucson Chapter
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Beat Back Buffelgrass program

Public Lands Links
NEEF National Public Lands Day webpage
Search for public lands in Arizona on the Public Lands Interpretive Association website
Overview of Federal public lands by the Department of the Interior


Hike the Monument (HTM) 2019

The Friends of Ironwood Forest had just over 60 hikers come out and enjoy the treasures of the IFNM on Saturday, November the 9, 2019. The weather was spectacular and three hikes covered many of the special attributes of the Monument. The hike to Cocoraque is always special due to the spiritual and cultural importance of the petroglyphs and other archeological artifacts. The hike was lead by doctoral candidate Kirk Astroth and everyone was thrilled to see the early first people’s habitation. The hike to the southern face of Waterman Mountain included numerous rare and endangered species, explained by botanist and geologist, Bill Peachey. Everyone also kept an eye out for the Desert Bighorn Sheep that are indigenous to the IFNM. The educational nature walk was lead by Reis Linley and Bill Thornton around the major Restoration Site that is steadily returning a former rock processing area to natural vegetation. We appreciate the hikers that venture out each year for this HTM event. Getting to know the Ironwood Forest up close is the very best way to encourage its future preservation.