Date/Time Event
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

For February we will continue the work along Manville Road and do some work on the route from the Ragged Top trail head to Wolcott Saddle.

8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Meet the Monument 2019

Meet the Monument 2019, Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Friends of Ironwood Forest have set Saturday, March 16th for our annual “Meet the Monument” event. This gathering – free and open to the public – will be held again on the north side of iconic Ragged Top, approximately 20 miles west of Marana. The goal of this event is to be a learning experience – featuring informational presentations on saguaros, Big Horn Sheep, and Mojave Rattlesnakes. Additionally, walkabouts will be hosted by local naturalists specializing in the various facets of the flora and fauna of the monument. (Click here to view the flyer.)

View the speaker bios.

View the map to the event.

Watch a video from last year’s event.

The Friends of Ironwood Forest is a local non-profit organization that works for the permanent protection of the biological, geological, archaeological, and historical resources for which the Ironwood Forest National Monument was established.

We accomplish our mission by providing resources such as volunteers, expertise, public outreach, education, and advocacy on behalf of the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Want to volunteer? We will need volunteers for set up the morning of MTM, multiple activities during MTM and tear down/clean up at the end of MTM. Interested? Send an email to [email protected]

View a time lapse video from last year’s event below.


8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

Our project for this day is TBD.  Check back for details as they become available.

8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Volunteer Work Day
Ironwood Forest National Monument, Marana AZ

Go to our Maps and Directions page to see more detailed maps to Ironwood Forest National Monument, Ragged Top and the Waterman Restoration site.

As you can see from the following past and planned events, the Friends of Ironwood Forest continue to be engaged in exciting, important activities. We hope you’ll join us for future events.

Meet the Monument 2018

Watch a timelapse video of the event.

It would be difficult to script a better day for our annual Meet the Monument 2018 event—guests were treated to perfect weather conditions and a highly engaging experience. By many accounts, the day was a huge success, with close to 250 participants!

Meet the Monument allowed a diverse group of visitors to enjoy a variety of what the Ironwood Forest National Monument has to offer. This is the Friends’ yearly signature event that allows us a chance to share The Monument with the public. There is a lot to cover; this special land has been set aside to protect threatened plant and animal life, priceless archeological assets, and unique geology.

With majestic Ragged Top providing the backdrop, attendees (many first timers) enjoyed walkabouts led by local naturalists, interpretive exhibits, and representatives from organizations charged with protecting this special place.

A variety of speakers covered the topics of saguaros, archeology, big horn sheep, and the role of The Wilderness Society and BLM in protecting and preserving the assets of The Monument.

The Friends of Ironwood Forest would like to thank our speakers Bill Peachey, Claire Crow, Bill Gillespie, Mike Quigley, and Joe Sheehey, and hike leaders Reis Lindley, Rachel Feuerbach, Allan Morgan and William Thornton. Providing valuable information on the Titan II missile era was Richard Kampa, while Gary Borax shared the challenges and adventure of hiking in IFNM. Cecil Schwalbe shared his knowledge of reptiles including live “friends!” The BLM was key to staging and staffing the event, as well as providing information to the public.

Sponsors and partners for the event include The Conservation Lands Foundation, The BLM, The Wilderness Society, Patagonia, Summit Hut, Dragoon Brewery, Bach’s Nursery, Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, Rusty Lizard Press, Arizona Native Plant Society, and Ray Kuhn. Doug Kreutz of The Arizona Daily Star once again provided generous coverage of our event.

And finally, the board of Friends of Ironwood Forest is extremely grateful to the volunteers that constantly provide time and resources to The Friends in providing this event to the public. As well, those members contributing funds to the organization make it possible to maintain these events.

It takes a village; we have a great one.  

Volunteer Work Days

In order to participate in these or other BLM work projects, you need to have a “Volunteer Service Agreement” form completed and on file with BLM prior to the work day. (Click here for the form.) Email the completed form to both r[email protected] .

Wednesday, March 21 – The goal today was to record the status of the Nickels Turks Head cactus, a federally listed endangered plant, on two sample plots within the IFNM that were first inventoried in 1980. The original survey work was done by BLM shortly after the Turks Head was listed as endangered, and occurred about 20 years prior to this land being proclaimed as part of the Ironwood Forest National Monument. 

This 30-plus year old survey data is valuable information and is the basis determining how the plant has done in the intervening period. We first looked for the boundary markers from the original survey. The plots are 50X50 meter squares. Once the perimeter was found, the plot is then sectioned into 10-meter strips. The volunteers and BLM staff then begins a careful walk through looking for any sign of the cactus, dead or alive. 
The original survey left tags by each cactus they found. So, in some cases, the tag may be the only thing left. For each cactus or tag found, we recorded the tag number, the GPS location, whether the cactus was present, dead or alive, its size, and whether or not there were any pups.
With our 6-person teams, the process took about 4 hours once we arrived at the respective sites. It will be a while back at the office for BLM to carefully reconcile the new data with the original survey findings. We noted a range of other plant life, including a forest of very green ocotillos in full bloom. This was a good day!


Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17 – Meet the Monument. Thank you to the many volunteers that helped this event conducted by the Friends of Ironwood Forest! The set up on the 16th went quickly and smoothly and the MTM event on the 17th was AWESOME thanks to the time and effort you so generously provided! More details and pictures of the event are forthcoming. 


Tuesday,March 13 – We joined John Scheuring, BLM and other buffelgrass (BG) assassins, 10 total participants, to spray BG in an extensive 10 acre area on the northeast flank of Ragged Top. Since 2010 this area is now reduced from large plants in thick patches to isolated patches with smaller plants and plants/seedlings hiding under trees, bushes and cholla. With 10 folks spraying we were able to cover the entire area in one trip. This area is improving dramatically!


IFNM Volunteer Work Days are planned each month. After April, we go into summer hibernation, and then begin the projects again in October. In these projects we assist the BLM in varied tasks such as restoration, trail improvement, and sign installation.


The volunteer workdays are very productive. In addition to providing the volunteers with some exercise out in beautiful scenery, we are able to clear much trash from a couple areas, create more vertical mulch “fencing”, and perform some drainage diversion on one of the steep old mining “roads”. The two trash day efforts were in the vicinity of the missile site near Waterman Mountain on February 4th and along Pump Station Road on March 2nd.

The most notable bonus when gathering trash near Waterman was seeing a nice population of the rare and endangered Nichol’s Turk’s Head Cactus. Royce Ballinger considers these small cacti to be an iconic plant in the Ironwood Monument.
workday 2

The biggest haul of trash was East of Pump Station where the crews gathered over 1400 pounds of non-biodegradable waste. The piece de resistance was an old refrigerator, complete with required bullet holes.

The vertical mulching effort was to help block off unwanted traffic patterns into the desert. The drainage diversion was done the redirect the erosion on a steep slope leading up to Waterman Saddle. This was accomplished using the on-site rocks and gravel.

workday 3The volunteer efforts are greatly appreciated. It is a pleasure to work with the BLM on these projects and see what can be accomplished to help restore and protect this natural treasure.

For additional details, to sign up, and to get on the mailing list for future announcements of these projects, please email [email protected]




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