Our mission is to inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon through volunteer work and outreach programs.

January 13, 2022
This photo was taken after a very brief rain shower by Alice Wakefield.
Friends of Cave Creek Canyon
2021 Annual Report
Dear Friends,

Thank you for being a Friend of Cave Creek Canyon. This is our second Annual Report, since for the second year COVID precautions have prevented our usual Annual Meeting.
As you’ll see from the following reports, much has been happening. Visitation to the canyon and the Visitor Information Center was above pre-pandemic levels, but our education outreach was hampered by school limitations.
Following are brief reports on Education, Events, Heritage Days, Membership, National Public Lands Day, the South Fork Project, Trails, Financials, the Visitor Information Center, and Willow Tank.
We have a wonderful and very active Board of Directors, and welcomed three new directors this year: Jeff Wakefield, Alice Wakefield, and Geoff Bender. We also regretfully accepted the resignation of Alan Craig, longtime Board Member who has moved away. Alan’s thoughtful insights and wisdom have been a center of gravity for the board. He will be missed. Thank you, Alan.
Finally, volunteers are at the heart of Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, and we could accomplish nothing without them. In the reports that follow you will see many of the wonderful things volunteers have done in a difficult year.  

Reed Peters, President
By Cecil Williams

After getting our education program launched, and creating numerous nature programs, Carol Frischmann is stepping down to pursue her writing career. We thank her, and are so grateful to her for a wonderful start.
COVID really put a damper on student visits in 2021. However, we will be ready when COVID begins to wane! Carol’s fantastic program boxes are at the ready in the Visitor Information Center. FOCCC also has binoculars and tablets waiting to be used. Be it birds, geology, early peoples, and more, our topic boxes can also be adapted for weekend family programs.
New faces have joined the education project. Alice Wakefield has been just fantastic in procuring Forest Service materials for the children. She has made numerous bags loaded with informative nature related treats. When children leave the forest, more education leaves with them. Teacher Michelle Ludwig is also aboard to facilitate our education project. In January, Alice, Michelle, and Cecil will meet at the VIC to review our FOCCC materials and topic boxes.
FOCCC has already established a working relationship with Southwestern Research Station regarding education. [Geoff Bender, the Director of SWRS, is now on the board of FOCCC]. Our group is also seeking further nature partnerships. Reed and Cecil had an invigorating ZOOM meeting with Deb Caldwell, head of Friends of Bosque Del Apache and Holly Mercer, one of the authors of Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul. 

In January, Reed will meet them at Bosque, and then they will visit us here . The goal is to share ideas of ways these Friends groups can create partnerships to help foster the love of nature in today’s young children and also their families.
2022 arrives with our FOCCC invigorated and ready to share the natural wonders of our forest!
By Cecil Williams

FOCCC truly missed having its traditional yearly events because of COVID restrictions, but still managed to have some outdoor mini events that were fun and well received. 

In summer, we hosted an ice cream social at the Visitor Information Center. Everyone was so happy to be outside and see their neighbors! Debb Johnson's music group planned to play for an hour, but had so much fun they stayed for the entire event! Children really enjoyed learning about Desert Museum snakes and how to handle them. Ray Mendez provided more fun with honey pot ants…delicious?!!

Heritage Days was a modified outdoor event at the Chiricahua Desert Museum. Again, folks were happy to come out .  FOCCC and the Chiricahua Regional Council had successful nature tables.  See Kim Vacariu's report below for more details about this event.

The final fun was participating in the Sew What rummage sale event. FOCCC provided hot coffee and tea….and …. early morning ice cream treats! In an hour and half over 70 cold treats were served on an equally chilly day! Yes! Portal enjoys having fun, and Sew What earned a tidy sum that rewarded their hard work putting on the event.
Heritage Days
By Kim Vacariu

Despite the cancellation of traditional Heritage Days indoor presentations due to safety concerns related to the COVID pandemic, the outdoor Market and Crafts Fair at the Chiricahua Desert Museum and the Mountain Wildflower Walk in Cave Creek Canyon continued to draw local and regional attention. 
More than 100 people attended the Market/Crafts Fair on September 11, which featured 14 vendors from around the region, a live music performance by Dennis Hanisch and Friends, and delicious tacos provided by the on-site “Migration Taco Stand.”

The popular Wildflower Walk on the following day was lead by local wildflower enthusiasts Elaine Moisan and Dave Jasper and drew 25 participants.
Membership Report
By Mike Williams
FOCCC membership continue to expand and we had a good year with the number of memberships up 16%. We now have 190 individual/family memberships and 20 Business Members. 
Our Lifetime Membership list also grew nicely in 2021. There are now 10 Lifetime Members [$1500]. We greatly appreciate the support of the local community and businesses, and all the visitors that have joined and support FOCCC.
National Public Lands Day - FOCCC Partners With Forest Service
Article by Rolf Koford, photos by Armando Arvizu

Sept. 25 was National Public Lands Day, when volunteer projects throughout the Nation celebrate our public lands. Projects are educational and focus on conservation. This year, Cave Creek Canyon had its first project in ten years. With a recent increase in local Forest Service staffing, this may become an annual event, as the Forest Service takes the lead. FOCCC helped recruit local volunteers.

Five local volunteers assisted on two tasks. Old pipe was removed from the South Fork of Cave Creek from the berm to the bridge. This pipe originally carried water to the campground that used to be at the end of the road.
The other project was pulling horehound in the Sunny Flat Campground. It is likely that contaminated dirt from elsewhere was the source of this invasive species. We got perhaps a quarter of it. Local work crews may have an opportunity to make more progress in the near future.

The Forest Service supplied work gloves, goggles, safety vests, and even distributed Smokey buffs to the volunteers. Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers. The willingness of community members to give their time and energy to community projects is a big part of what makes this such a special place.

National Public Lands Day Volunteers
Elly Van Gelderen
Elisa Lewis
Winston Lewis
Rolf Koford
Reed Peters
South Fork Project
By Mike Williams
The South Fork Day Use Project was delayed until some time late in 2022 due to objections from many parties. Many of those objecting, including FOCCC, were very opposed to the proposed closing of South Fork Road for 3-4 months of the year. The Forest Service will be revising their plan and, hopefully, will present a revised plan in 2022.

Because of the delay we had to return a $20,000 grant we had received to help fund this project. Additionally, as a 200+ yard trail suitable for mobility impaired people was removed, a $5,000 pledge was withdrawn.
Trails Report
By Jeff Wakefield

FOCCC members provided volunteer trail maintenance support along the Crest Trail above Cave Creek and Rustler Park and down into Barfoot Park in May.  FOCCC board approved a pledge of $10K of matching funds for a grant proposal made by Wild Arizona for work on the upper section of the South Fork Trail and beyond. 

As that grant proposal was not funded, a reworked proposal to a different funding source is being developed by Wild Arizona and FOCCC has pledged $20K for that effort. In addition, a few members of both FOCCC and the Chiricahua Regional Council (CRC) met to discuss trail maintenance priorities for both trails in the upper Cave Creek watershed and trails in the more immediate area of Cave Creek.
Treasurer’s Report
By Rick Beno
To all, here's my wish for a much healthier 2022. Starting there, I must say that financially we had a pretty good year. Our gross account balance is currently $41,000 greater than that of December 31, 2020. Most of that comes from our membership and net Visitor Information Center sales. Donations and grants also contributed greatly to our revenue.
Our expenses last year are far lower than expected due to the Forest Service not being able to start the South Fork project, and delays in the education program due to the COVID virus. Expenses in normal operations categories have been pretty normal.
Because of on-going delays in the South Fork Project by the Forest Service we had to return a $20,000 grant we had received toward this project.
So, here's to more normalcy in our future and thank you to all who contribute both financially and physically to our joint causes.

Visitor Information Center
By Rolf Koford
It was nice to be open every month of 2021. COVID precautions continued and visitors had access only to the yard, the outdoor bathroom and the front porch of the VIC. The two picnic tables in the front yard got used by picnickers and hummingbird photographers. Many of our returning VIC Hosts rode out the COVID storm here; at times, we had three sets of hosts. Linda, a returnee, served through the summer and then retired from VIC hosting; we will miss her. We welcomed new hosts in October, November and December. Mike Williams passed the management reins to me. 
Visitation sprang back as people felt comfortable traveling. In fact, in every month of the second half of the year, visitor numbers exceeded those in 2019 [our most recent “normal” year]. Sales were also up. We depend on sales to pay the VIC expenses. We will finish 2021 in very good shape.

Visitor Information Center Volunteers
Don Arneson
Lorraine Barden
Linda Castor
Bill Chilson
Alan Craig
Pat Crowley
Debra Davison
Rene Donaldson
Marilyn Forestell
Judy Geiger
Larry Geiger
Susan Kocis
Rolf Koford
Bonnie Koford
Sharon Korb
Michelle Ludwig

Glenn McElfresh
Laura Paulson
Steve Paulson
Paul Readhead
Marsha Readhead
Joan Schneider
Richard Schneider
Lee Simpson
Kevin Streat
Kim Vacariu
Jimi Walker
Mike Williams
Laura Zeuner
Willow Tank
By Rene Donaldson
Willow Tank is one of the very few reliable sources of water for birds and critters on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains and has also been used by the Forest Service in controlling fires. It is located in Arizona, west on Sulphur Canyon Road off of State Line Road south of Rodeo, New Mexico, and is managed by FOCCC on property owned by Larry Rivers.
The first week of 2021 started off with high expectations and high water levels which attracted the following species [from WT Logbook]: Great Blue Herons; Ruddy Duck; Pied-billed Grebe; Black Phoebe; Sage, Vesper, White-crowned, Brewer's, and Black-throated Sparrows; Lark Buntings; McCown’s Longspurs; American Coots; Loggerhead Shrike; Sandhill Cranes overhead; Ring-necked Ducks; Hooded Merganser; Gambel’s Quail; Pyrrhuloxias; Eastern Meadowlark and Common and Chihuahuan Ravens.

April brought Lucy’s Warbler, Vermilion Flycatchers, and one Sora with a peak of at least 40 White-faced Ibis and 4 Wilson’s Phalaropes. Also seen were several species of warblers and 11 American Avocets. Species began to plummet in May and remained low throughout the summer and into the fall.
Because of the heavy monsoonal rainfall in the summer, we were kept busy eliminating Russian thistles (tumbleweed). At one time the Tank looked like a golf course with emerging thistles. Many volunteers and I put in lots of laborious hours with a hoe eliminating them while I was gone for two weeks in July and August. I made up for it on my return, working over 100 hours just on thistle removal from March 22-November 6.

This year FOCCC lost its wise historian and collective memory of Willow Tank when my friend and long-time board colleague, birder par excellence Alan Craig resigned. While Willow Tank will suffer from the loss of Alan’s wisdom and bird expertise, we wish him sunny skies, many birds and no thistles in his future.
While Willow Tank experienced an exceptional monsoon season with over 20 inches of rain, it probably arrived too late for the birds. Hopefully they went elsewhere and will return in 2022. Keep logging in your sightings whenever you visit the Tank because it helps us to maintain records. A shout-out this year to P. D. Hulce, Dave Jasper, Peg Abbott, and Reed Peters for consistently logging their sightings.
Tumbleweed Work Day: Observing the 50th anniversary of World Wetlands Day on February 2, ten hard-working volunteers met at Willow Tank and bashed the aggressive, non-native, dried-out and miserable Russian thistles (more commonly known as “tumbleweeds”) to oblivion.
A huge thank-you to all who sweated and labored to demolish these skeletons. The purpose of the World Wetlands Convention is to raise global awareness about the critical role of wetlands for people, wildlife and our planet.

Burrowing Owl Nest Boxes:
In February we installed two artificial burrowing owl nest boxes and four tunnels. The “For Rent” sign is still out and the boxes were emptied of pack rat debris at our Work Day on November 6. If we see signs of owls in the spring we will give the boxes another housecleaning. Volunteers Rene and Tony Donaldson, Reed Peters, Bob Hautman, and Bob Downs made this project possible.
Lucy’s Warbler Nest Box: There were no occupants in the nest box installed last year.

Falconry Event: A Harris’s Hawk named Norman, born and raised in captivity, and Pablo, a Barn Owl—both southern Arizona species—delighted over 40 spectators at Willow Tank’s first Sky Island Falconry.
Sky Island Falconry Experience offers classes, hawk walks, and more. Our hosts were Nate and Amber Danforth, both experienced falconers.

As a bonus, Early Birds to the event saw 10 Snowy Egrets, 8 White-faced Ibis, and a Wilson Snipe at the Tank.
   This event—a first—drew locals, visitors, campers, and families on Tuesday, April 6, where a hefty wind discouraged Pablo from showing his stuff but all were able to admire what a handsome fellow he is.
Agricultural Pump: Thanks to a very generous donation from Leslie and Bruce Weertman we will be replacing the agricultural pump which will allow us to top off the Tank to keep up with evaporation in the summer. It will also allow the Forest Service to use the water as a resource in fighting local fires. Tony Donaldson spent many days researching alternatives for the pump and then explaining the options to me and others.

Community Work Day: Fourteen volunteers showed up to oil the two blinds and kiosk, prune mesquites, and plant seeds. It was our warmest Work Day ever and because the thistle population had been eliminated earlier, workers could devote their energy to other tasks this time. We thank all who participated and gave so generously of their time.
   Bullfrogs. They are plentiful and persistent.
   Erosion. Susan Dalby and Deborah Herczog planted mud balls of milkweed and coyote gourd seeds in the erosion-caused gullies at the Community Work Day on November 6. Both species will help to control erosion. We are also putting shrub cuttings from pruning efforts into the gullies to slow water flow.
   Replace agricultural pump
   Research erosion control measures
   Plant weeping willow (namesake of Tank) and mulberry
Special thanks to:
   To Tony Donaldson, Bob Hautman, Bob Downs and Reed Peters who made the burrowing owl nest box project a reality;
   To Linda Castor who watered and weeded while I was on vacation;
   To all the participants at the Community Work Day in November;
   To all the logbook listers.
Willow Tank Volunteers:
Linda Castor
Alan Craig
Susan Dalby
Debra Davison
Rene Donaldson
Tony Donaldson
Bob Downs
Bob Hautman
Deborah Herczog
Rolf Koford

Reed Peters
Eskild Petersen
Jessica Pretty
Ron Quinn
Bob Rodrigues
Joan and Rick Schneider
Aaron Smith
Jeff Wakefield
Mary Sue Waser
Steve Wolfe
Northern Cardinal by Tim Lawson
Friends of Cave Creek Canyon Board Members
Bob Ashley
Sheri Ashley
Geoff Bender
Rick Beno
Rene Donaldson
Rolf Koford
Pat Parran
Reed Peters
Kim Vacariu
Jeff Wakefield
Alice Wakefield
Cecil Williams
Mike Williams
Help us thank our Business Members who have given generously to Friends of Cave Creek Canyon. Without their assistance, we would be hard pressed to accomplish our goals. Click on the underlined names to check out their websites.    
A.S.K. Pest Control 
Chiricahua Chef
Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist
Painted Pony
Sky Islands Grill & Grocery  
Cable Publishing
Daussin & Associates   
Migration Taco
OL' Morani Ranch 
Sky Island Rolfing  
Terry Miller
Umphres Propane
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