Foundation’s Arizona Work Serves As Model for National Programs
On Saturday, October 6th, the National Forest Foundation received the top honor at Arizona Forward’s 38th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP. The organization’s Northern Arizona Forest Fund received both a Crescordia award as a “Sustainability Champion” and the President’s Award, beating out dozens of other organizations for the highest honor of the evening.
“We are so proud to be honored by Arizona Forward and to share the stage with so many other great environmental initiatives across the state,” said Rebecca Davidson, the NFF’s Southern Rockies Program Manager. “This award highlights how partnerships and a long-term commitment can make a real difference.”
The Northern Arizona Forest Fund is a program that leverages private and public funding to improve forest conditions on National Forests in Northern Arizona. These publicly owned forests supply much of the water to the Salt and Verde Rivers, which supply water to Phoenix and other southern Arizona cities, but have been impacted by declining federal budgets, wildfire and climate change.
“We are thrilled to be recognized for the Northern Arizona Forest Fund. This approach is one example of how we work across the country to improve these incredible landscapes. From Arizona to Alaska and New Hampshire to Florida, the NFF is creating innovative conservation partnerships like the Northern Arizona Forest Fund that leverage funding to make lasting improvements to America’s 193 million acres of National Forests.”
In addition to receiving this high-profile award, the NFF recently received $13 million from CALFIRE for cross-boundary forest health and restoration work in California and Nevada’s Tahoe/Truckee region – the largest single grant given out in this year’s grant funding.
The NFF first launched the Northern Arizona Forest Fund in 2015. Since that time, the Fund has invested more than $2 million into projects that reduce the risk of severe fire, reduce sediment in streams and reservoirs, and improve wetland and spring function across the Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests. By combining funding from Arizona businesses, local municipalities and other sources with federal funding the NFF receives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund has achieved significant results for Arizona’s National Forests.
“We are grateful for all of the partners who have supported the Northern Arizona Forest Fund since we first launched it,” said Davidson. “Our focus on high-priority projects that deliver real benefits to watershed health and therefore water quality and quantity has allowed us to make a meaningful difference for the forests and for the communities that depend on them.”
Northern Arizona Forest Fund projects have included fire-risk reduction work on Bill Williams Mountain, which helped protect private property, sediment reduction on Schnebly Hill Road, which helped improve water quality in Oak Creek and reduced E. Coli transmission, meadow and spring improvement projects and trail erosion control projects. All of the projects improve water quality and quantity or reduce the risk of severe fire, which can negatively affect water supplies.
“The declining health of Northern Arizona forests puts the state one catastrophic wildfire away from an impact on its water supply. The Northern Arizona Forest Fund has made substantial progress in improving forest health, and also provides a model for other regions across the nation facing similar challenges.”
As the congressionally chartered nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, the NFF works across the country to engage Americans in the restoration and enjoyment of the National Forests.
Learn more about the Northern Arizona Forest Fund and the National Forest Foundation at nationalforests.org.