The Ironwood Forest National Monument (IFNM) was established in June 2000, thanks to the efforts of the Coalition. Managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the monument is located 25 miles northwest of Tucson and protects over 129,000 acres of the beautiful and rugged Sonoran Desert. Within the IFNM over 470 species and subspecies of plants thrive. The monument is home to 821 invertebrates and 177 vertebrates, which include the last remaining heard of Desert bighorn sheep in eastern Pima County.
The IFNM is one of the Southern Arizona’s natural treasures. As a community we must ensure that the monument has the highest level of protection possible. To help accomplish this, the Coalition and the Sierra Club are working in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to organize a “Friends” group for the IFNM. We are looking for the commitment and support of community members to get involved with the Friends of Ironwood Forest National Monument (FIF)!
Friends organizations are typically created by citizens interested in a particular unit of public land, who work with the land management agency staff and others to ensure protection of natural resources and native biodiversity, conduct research and restoration work, educate the public and assist visitors to the monument. The BLM only has one ranger for the entire monument, and a friends group could help in many areas. There are opportunities to raise funds for public education and outreach programs; the IFNM is experiencing Bufflegrass encroachment, illegal off road traffic in sensitive areas, cultural site vandalism, and many other issues that a Friends group could effectively address.
A Board of Directors has been formed and has decided upon the organizational structure the official Friends of Ironwood Forest National Monument; the board will now make decisions and organize the recruitment of members, build organizational cooperation with the BLM, engage in restoration projects, organize hikes, birding walks, archeology tours, and other activities within the monument.
The FIF Board of Directors attended a weekend workshop in December to train with the Association of Partners for Public Lands. The workshop, at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, was very successful by helping the FIF Board of Directors to organize. FIF is expecting to advocate for both acquisition of historic and cultural parcels within the Monument by Pima County; and the preservation of Tortolita Fan area of Marana that boarders the Monument with the Town of Marana. FIF is also participating in BLM volunteer projects on the monument like the recent highly productive Bufflegrass removal project.
The kick off project for FIF volunteers planning is underway. Please watch for the announcement here and be sure to sign up for the FIF newsletter by contacting Lori Andersen:
Friends of Ironwood Forest
Attn: Lori Andersen, Secretary FIF
300 E. University Blvd. Ste. 120
Tucson, Az 85705
To learn more about the Ironwood Forest National Monument go to: http://www.sonorandesert.org/learning-more/learn-more-about-the-ifnm