Marana Founder’s Day 2017

Friends of the Ironwood Forest participated in the 2017 Marana Founder’s Day. Board members helped during the day by staffing a booth, answering questions and participating in a raffle. Raffle winners had their choice of a Friends of the Ironwood Forest t-shirt or a book. Note cards and photographs were a big hit as a giveaway too.  

The annual Marana Founder’s Day is a good opportunity to share the Friends mission of protecting the biological, geological, archaeological, and historical resources of the Ironwood Forest National Monument with area residents. People that stopped by the booth requested maps and more information about ironwoods.

Marana Founder’s Day also includes a parade, youth awards, car show and vendors of all types. Watch for 2018 dates, come enjoy and learn more about the Ironwood Forest National Monument.


Titan II Missile Interpretive Site

Titan II Missile Interpretive Site
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ


On November 17, 2016 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U. S. Air Force dedicated a new destination for visitors to the Ironwood Forest National Monument!  You will find the new Titan II Missile Interpretive Site just off Johnston Mine Road.  The dedication was an inspiring event to showcase the new addition to the Monument and many dignitaries attended.  Speakers included: Pamela Mathis, BLM Gila Associate District Manager; Ray Suazo, BLM Arizona State Director; Colonel Laurie Richter, 355th Mission Support Group, Davis-Monthan AFB; and Yvonne Morris, Titan II Missile Museum Director and former Titan II site Missile Combat Crew Commander.  Also, former crew members once assigned to the 390th Strategic Missile Wing were in attendance.  The Friends of Ironwood Forest provided refreshments for the ceremony.


The U.S. Air Force and the BLM partnered in the conversion of Titan Missile Site 570-3 into a historical interpretive site, this site is one of 18 across our state.    The Titan II Missile sites were located in three places in the U.S. as a deterrent to nuclear war during the cold war period–Arkansas, Kansas and Arizona and they were manned 24/7 for 24 years, from 1963 to 1987.  Each site was capable of launching a Titan II Missile in 58 seconds in case of attack on the United States.  Green Valley is home to the Titan Missile Museum, a silo preserved in its originality for visitors to enjoy and learn more about this period in history.  Now we have another site on the Ironwood Forest National Monument for visitors to experience this history in another way. 

In order to establish the interpretive site the BLM led multiple work projects enlisting the help of many volunteers affiliated with the Friends of Ironwood Forest, Arizona Native Plant Society and others.  The volunteers provided many hours clearing and preparing the site as well as installing signage at the site.


Visiting the Titan II Missile Interpretative Site on the Ironwood Forest National Monument is easy.  Use Exit 242 from I-10 (Avra Valley Road) and travel west approximately 19.5 miles to Johnston Mine Road.  Turn left onto Johnston Mine Road.  You will find the road to the site in about .2 miles to the right.  There is plenty of parking and easily accessible flat walking areas.  The views of the Waterman Mountains are great and, if you are lucky, perhaps a Desert Big Horn Sheep or two will also be in view!  Enjoy the experience!

Big news about bighorns. Read all about it.

Click below to read the article:

Two bighorns spotted in Saguaro Park

T-shirts on Sale

Get Your Very Own Friends of Ironwood Forest T-Shirt

T-Shirts available in all sizes, Men’s and Women’s
$20 each and $3 for shipping or free local pickup
Through any of the following easy ordering options

1.  Use your credit card or PayPal:


2.  Send your request and check for payment to:

Friends of Ironwood Forest
738 N 5th Ave, Suite 114
Tucson, AZ 85705

Please include your name, address, phone number and the number of t-shirts and sizes you desire.

3.  Contact us by email at: [email protected]

4.  Friends of Ironwood Forest T-Shirts are available at Summit Hut,


Comprehensive Book About Ironwood Forest National Monument Available

book promotion flyer v2 finalA comprehensive book about the Ironwood Forest National Monument and the Sonoran Desert is available.  Dr. Royce Ballinger, former Board of Directors member for the Friends of Ironwood Forest, retired professor of herpetology at the University of Nebraska, and resident of Marana, has put together the definitive introduction to the natural history of the Ironwood Forest. In addition to being a good read, the book features the stunning photography of Young Cage.

This book is self published locally and can be purchased through Rusty Lizard Press P.O. Box 68058, Oro Valley, AZ 85737. $35 (check or money order); plus shipping and handling ($5 priority mail anywhere in U.S.; we only ship priority). Inquiries at [email protected].


“…a wonderful introduction to…geography, plants, animals…scientifically accurate but…easy to read…will make you want to visit in person…”

Dr. Mark Dimmitt, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum naturalist retired and lead scientist for initial biological survey of IFNM

Friends on Arizona Illustrated

Friends of Ironwood Forest Executive Director, Lahsha Brown, was a guest on Arizona Public Media’s Arizona Illustrated show on February 17, 2014. She was one of three Friends group leaders featured in a discussion about the public lands our groups care for. The show also highlighted the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act taking place that year.


New Interstate 11 would run right through Avra Valley

This map shows the route of the proposed Interstate 11, which would significantly alter the Avra Valley. The interstate would run between Ironwood Forest National Monument and Saguaro National Park (West/Red Hills).

A similar proposal was opposed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 2007. The same concerns would be valid – “negatively impacting Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Arizona Project Canal mitigation area, and important elements of the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan by slicing through sensitive areas, severing linkages between important habitat areas, and disturbing an unknown number of archeological sites”.

In a July 2, 2013 letter to the Pima Association of Governments, County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, discusses the impacts of this proposed route. But he only mentions the direct impacts to parcels of land on which the interstate would be built. This letter minimizes the impacts to adjacent properties, including areas conserved for wildlife and cultural and historic interests. It significantly downplays the impacts to the City of Tucson’s proposed Avra Valley Habitat Conservation Plan permit area, which includes 22,000 acres of former agricultural lands in the Avra Valley purchased by the City in the 1970s and 1980s for water rights.


Ironwood Forest National Monument Anniversary Reminds us the Antiquities Act is an Important Tool to Preserve our Heritage

On June 9, 2000, strong community support led to the creation of a National Monument just 25 miles Northwest of Tucson. Previously unprotected public lands in the Silverbell, Ragged Top, Sawtooth, and Waterman Mountains, now make up the spectacular Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Ironwood Forest is just one of Arizona’s eighteen National Monuments that protect our natural treasures and boost our economy. Presidents using the Antiquities Act of 1906 designated sixteen of those.

We are blessed that the highest density of irreplaceable Ironwood Trees in the world has been protected. Fortunate that the desert bighorn sheep in the Monument were recognized as “the last viable population indigenous to the Tucson basin”. And, wise to conserve the ancient legume and cactus forests, which contain objects of scientific interest throughout.

Now Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has introduced legislation prohibiting Presidential use of the Antiquities Act in Arizona. Ironically, HR 1495, the Arizona Land Sovereignty Act, would gut the very law that has put Arizona on many visitor and residents’ radar screens.

If Rep. Gosar’s legislation had been in effect in 1908, the Grand Canyon might not have been protected from mining interests and go on to become one of our most beloved National Parks.

Spanning more than 100 years, sixteen presidents of both parties have used this Act. It is essential that the president have the ability to rise above the politics of the day and protect some of America’s best remaining natural, cultural and historic areas.

The Antiquities Act does not lessen Congress’ role and authority to declare national monuments, determine the level of resources for the management and maintenance of national monuments, to re-designate any monument as a National Park or other federal reserve.

It is too bad Representative Gosar is acting ridiculous and wasting taxpayer’s time and money.

Instead of looking for ways to spout anti-federal rhetoric, Rep. Gosar would be better off looking for opportunities to better protect the amazing natural and cultural resources found in Arizona, many in National Monuments.

Rep. Gosar, our National Parks, Monuments, Forests and Wildlife Refuges are an important part of our Arizona identity. Use your position to find funding to take care of our natural treasures, instead of trashing a process you clearly do not understand.

Ironwood Forest National Monument represents the best of the Sonoran Desert and of Arizona, appealing to those who enjoy wide open spaces with hardly anybody around. With such a rugged and remote place less than an hour’s drive from Tucson, we are lucky to have these incredible wild lands to explore.

You won’t find paved roads, a visitor center, or manicured trails, but you may discover a sense of wonder, exploration, and adventure in a landscape of humbling beauty.

We are fortunate to have places like Ironwood Forest and other National Monuments in Arizona – our inheritance and our legacy.


Recreational Target Shooting Prohibited after 6 years of advocacy

BLM issues long-awaited Final Resource Management Plan ending the destructive practice.

This is a significant change in the way this national treasure is protected and will improve visitor and volunteer safety like no other single action could. 

We are very pleased with this outcome and will be working with the Bureau of Land Management in whatever way we can to support this decision.

This final decision closes all Ironwood Forest National Monument lands to recreational shooting.

Today (Feb. 25, 2013) the

New signs inform visitors that recreational target shooting is no longer allowed.

New signs inform visitors that recreational target shooting is no longer allowed, January 2014.

Bureau of Land Management published the Record of Decision for the Final Resource Management Plan for the Ironwood Forest National Monument. It can be found at

Summary and Proposed Action from the Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan:

The preferred management action in the Ironwood Forest National Monument (IFNM) Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) to prohibit target shooting in the monument generated a great deal of controversy and public interest. BLM received many comments both in favor of and against the prohibition. Due to the number of questions regarding the prohibition, and the high level of public interest surrounding it, BLM chose to re-examine the decision and go through a well-documented, methodological, and transparent analysis to determine if there are areas on the IFNM that could potentially support the continuation of target shooting into the future, given the management constraints, safety considerations, and protected status of the IFNM.


Of the 128,000 total BLM acres in the IFNM, 47,017 acres of BLM land were found to be within “potential shooting terrain” (see Map I-9). Of those 47,017 acres, 2,965 acres did not conflict (or overlap) with the 86,244 acres already eliminated from consideration, as identified above. These 2,965 acres are depicted on Map I-10, and were further scrutinized during on-site visits, as described in section 2 below. The remainder of the IFNM was not considered further in this analysis.

The entire site specific analysis is available here – IFNMRMPRecreationalShootingAnalysis

The Resource Management Plan and other information is available from the Bureau of Land Management through their web site


BLM’s target-shooting ban was wise

Fri Mar 15, 2013 Arizona Republic

As a fifth-generation rancher and sportsman in southern Arizona who grew up near Ironwood Forest National Monument, I appreciate the multiple uses of this special place. Almost daily, I hike, recreate, commute through or graze cattle in this area.

That’s why I and many others in my neck of the woods were so happy to see a balanced decision by the Bureau of Land Management recently in banning target shooting here.

I am a gun owner and hunter who supports target shooting in designated areas, as in shooting ranges.

While out looking for cattle, we have had too many close calls with stray bullets from target shooters who have no idea what, or who, is in the distance. We’ve also seen many of our signs and water tanks shot up for no reason.

The target-shooting ban represents not only a balanced decision on behalf of multiple uses, but it helps ensure the safety of all who visit the area. I’m glad to hear that the land managers have common sense.

Anyone opposing this decision has no idea what it’s like to have to duck stray bullets daily and clean up the mess left behind by target shooters.

– Jesus Arvizu, Marana

Public lands should not be sacrificed to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’

Thomas Hulen and Lahsha Brown Special To The Arizona Daily Star 12/13/12

The impending “fiscal cliff” is on the minds of many Americans, and most agree that something needs to be done to make sure our economy runs smoothly and that all citizens, present and future, have the opportunity to live the American Dream.

President Obama and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are at an impasse about whether to increase revenue through tax increases, cutting deductions and/or reducing spending on entitlements and other government programs.

Selling off our beloved public lands is not the answer.

Recently Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Steve Pearce, R-N.M., sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner outlining their plan to reduce spending and find alternative ways to increase revenue without closing their favorite deductions and increasing taxes. One idea they propose is to dispose “of unneeded land” by “divesting the federal government of its vast land holdings.”

This proposal is the most ridiculous response we’ve heard for solving the fiscal cliff.

Yes, the federal government “owns,” or more accurately “manages,” hundreds of millions of acres in trust for all Americans, and over “90 percent of this land is in the Western states.”

However, these representatives are dead wrong in saying that “most of it we do not even need.”

Aside from Arizona’s famous national parks, the lesser-known National Conservation Lands protect 3.3 million acres of unspoiled country and more than 100 miles of scenic and historic national trails.

Locally, you may be familiar with the Las Cienegas and San Pedro areas, or the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

These special places are virtually unchanged from a time when our nation was new and these lands were the wild frontier.

Some of the most rugged and remote lands offer visitors plentiful solitude and a rare escape from civilization.

At Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert National Monuments you can experience such a place, a landscape shaped by nature, undeveloped and beautiful.

A quick look at the Arizona Office of Tourism website will demonstrate that our most popular destinations are the natural wonders found on our public lands.

All Americans contribute toward the costs of maintaining these lands.

Imagine, if privatized, how some company would pay for firefighting costs? Suppose you wanted to go to your favorite hunting or fishing spot on the new “Shareholders R Us” Forest? Well, you would have to pay to do that if our public lands were sold off to the highest bidder.

Our public lands are not just assets that the government “owns” – these lands protect watersheds that provide clean drinking water for our communities, critical wildlife habitat, great hunting and fishing opportunities, historic sites to inspire our children’s imagination and numerous recreational opportunities.

Last month, Arizonans soundly defeated Proposition 120, a measure in which the state Legislature proposed to take control of federal lands and resources within the state.

The rejection of this measure by the voters sent a clear message, one that has been repeated since the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s: We care about our public lands – don’t mess with them.

Voters understand that any shortsighted gains made for monetary benefit do not outweigh the long-term costs of stealing an irreplaceable legacy from our children, grandchildren and future generations.

No other nation has the kind of freedom Americans have to enjoy public lands. We can and do choose to fund public parks, forests, wilderness and other lands for the benefit of all Americans.

Fiscal cliff or no fiscal cliff, the proposal by Reps. Bishop and Pearce is nothing more than their continued attack on one of our greatest assets – our nation’s public lands.

Americans deserve real solutions, not political posturing, to solve our financial situation. Selling off our public lands is not the answer.

Thomas Hulen is executive director of the Friends of Sonoran Desert National Monument. Lahsha Brown is executive director of the Friends of Ironwood Forest.