To Cave Creek 
               Canyon  Friends

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

by Tony Donaldson
[Photo by Tony Donaldson]  
Eared Quetzal

We continue to enjoy 3 or more of the very rare Eared Quetzals.  They have been seen and heard in many locations and rewarded hundreds of birders and nature lovers with great views.  

Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon
Steady Growth in Community Contributions

Over the last 9 years, FOCCC has grown steadily, investing over $300,000 in various projects. Funds have come from memberships, donations, grants and proceeds from the projects themselves. Some projects have ended but most are ongoing. We are pleased to have been able to support the communities of Portal and Rodeo and to enhance the appreciation and understanding of Cave Creek Canyon and the Chiricahua mountains.                         
  • FOCCC was established in 2011 and received its non-profit status on April 11, 2011.
  • May -  2013 Spring Garden Party by Kim Vacariu

    In 2013, with a mission of inspiring the community to understand the importance of Cave Creek Canyon and its wildlife, FOCCC instituted its first public outreach event, the "Spring Garden Party."
    The party, in the front yard area of the USFS Visitor Information Center at the entrance to the canyon, featured a free public breakfast and an array of local displays by area artists, biologists, conservationists, and native plant growers.

    Since that first Garden Party, the event has grown every year, and is now anticipated as an annual special opportunity for the public to see, touch and hear about the amazing array of wildlife, scientific and conservation-oriented services, and work done by researchers in our local area.
  • THE BOOK!  by Reed Peters
    In 2013, because there were no general interest books about Cave Creek Canyon, the board of FOCCC approved the concept of a publication to increase the appreciation and understanding of the canyon, in line with the mission statement. Wynne Brown and Reed Peters took on the project, and a list of topics was quickly produced.  The book was to be an introduction to those aspects of the canyon about which visitors most frequently asked   (What are those rocks made of?  What animals do you see here?  When did the first people arrive?  When did settlers arrive and what did they do?  Where do the kids go to school? etc.).
    With Portal's wealth of local experts, the question was not who could write about a certain topic, but rather how to choose among the many great author possibilities!  Nearly everyone we approached generously accepted the challenge, and new topics were raised that were felt worthy of inclusion.  What was initially envisaged as a pamphlet took on a life of its own and grew into a 270-some page book with hundreds of color photographs. We ended up with 42 mostly local authors, and dozens of other local people helped with artwork, photographs, proofreading, etc. It was truly a community project!  This was an expensive book to print, and a multitude of generous donors made sure we had the funds.
    It all went fairly quickly, and was ready to begin the publication process when in September of 2014, Hurricane Odile spent the night in Portal, altering South Fork and other parts of the canyon.  Pictures of this were included at the last minute, and the book went off. We had a wonderful book launch party when the beautiful books arrived in January 2015, with most of the authors signing books at tables at the Chiricahua Desert Museum. 

    The book went on to receive five awards, and after selling out most of the first edition, Wynne Brown took on the 2019 second edition, including an index, and corrections to those species names that had changed. We are all proud of this achievement.  While titled Cave Creek Canyon: Revealing the Heart of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, here it is commonly called simply The Book.   

  • by Kim Vacariu 

    Chiricahua-Peloncillo Heritage Days, celebrating its 12th anniversary next year, became fully sponsored by Friends of Cave Creek Canyon in September 2016, after taking over the community event from its founding organization, Wildlands Network.  FOCCC participated in and co-sponsored Heritage Days in prior years.


  • Event Director, Kim Vacariu, notes that FOCCC's decision to assume fiscal responsibility for ensuring the continuation of the popular event was a watershed moment for the community. "This event has helped to establish the connection between cultural and business activities and nature protection, and confirmed that those entities must exist together to form a true community," he says. "Ensuring its continuation has been so important."

  • Willow Tank Refuge
    Willow Tank is one of the very few sources of water for migratory and resident birds in addition to wildlife of all kinds.  WT is on the property of Larry Rivers and FOCCC is grateful that he has allowed FOCCC to help keep it operating as a wildlife refuge.  First Solar Corporporation donated and installed solar panels and provided additional funding which was used with FOCCC funds toward the purchase of pumps, a kiosk, and benches to make it a more comfortable and better environment.

  • Visitor Information Center


    In September 2015, the Forest Service decided to close the VIC [believed to be because of funding issues].   FOCCC, knowing how vital the VIC is to Cave Creek Canyon and the Chiricahua Mountains, decided that it must be kept open if possible.  We came to an agreement with the Forest Service to operate the VIC.  The former seasonal employee, Portal local Ron Kaczor, trained  some volunteers and the VIC was then open for 3-4 days per week.
    By 2017 it was open 7 days a week and hosts helped thousands of visitors each year.  In 2019  an official agreement was signed with the Forest Service, allowing FOCCC to put in new displays, repair the building, and offer Forest Service approved nature items for sale to the public.   A new display room was added and filled with pictures, almost all from local artists.

    In 2019 we had over 10,000 visitors inquiring for information, coming to tell the wonderful time they had and what they saw.  Many made donations and purchased items which offset some of the costs of operating and providing facilities for the VIC hosts.  Almost all of the hosts are not from this area.  They come here in an RV or trailer and stay 2-3 months.  Without them the VIC could not function.
    FOCCC has invested substantial funds and energy in the Visitor Center over the last 5 years.  It is great fun and rewarding to help community members and visitors learn about and explore Cave Creek Canyon and the Chiricahua Mountains.  

  • The Caves of Cave Creek - by Rene Donaldson
    Over 5 weeks in the summer of 2018, FOCCC, with US Forest Service (USFS) approval, sponsored an archaeological survey of caves in South Fork to understand the historical relationships to the canyon and vicinity through the lens of human use. Kelsey Hanson (University of Arizona) and Jonathan Patt (Portal, Arizona) obtained GPS coordinates for the surveyed caves in addition to sketch maps, photographs, and narrative descriptions.

    Of the 33 cave sites recorded, 12 contained either archaeological features (such as hearths) or artifacts (such as chipped stone). Of these 12, only 3 had been previously recorded with the USFS. Hansen and Patt's findings suggest that the caves were used for specific reasons depending on size, geology, elevation, and season. Hansen gave the lead talk on their results at Heritage Days last year.  
    The survey was guided by notes and photographs produced by the late Kimrod Murphy, a local retired Arizona Game and Fish Warden, plus existing documentation from the USFS archeological surveys.
                                                                                       [Photo by AR Donaldson] 
  • Education Outreach

    It was a long term goal for FOCCC to be able to offer a program with curriculum that meets Arizona requirements and provides a fun and educational program for bringing children and nature back together.

    We were fortunate to have found Carol Frischmann to lead our program, working  with Cecil Williams. Carol is a retired teacher and also author of many children's nature books and articles. She is a birder, a naturalist and former Audubon chapter president.  Cecil is also a retired school teacher and director and is on the board of FOCCC. 

    On October 11, 2018, the FOCCC pilot project in outdoor science education began when students from Apache School took a field trip to our Visitor Information Center for activities designed to help them learn about leaves and trees.


    Students have been introduced to many different aspects of nature, from flora to fauna, from weather to astronomy, with the help of many experts from the local communities.  Carol is always looking for volunteers.  If you are interested in helping the future stewards of our forests, just reply to this newsletter.  It is the best investment you can make!

Clay-colored Sparrow

An unusual visitor to the area, this sparrow was seen and photographed by Bob Rodrigues at his and Marsha's great bird feeding station.  The station is open to public viewing.  It is located on Foothills Rd., on the north side of Cave Creek.  

Photo Gallery

                Waterthrush by Lori Conrad                            Stick Bug by Lori Conrad
               Red-spotted Purple by Lori Conrad                Hummingbird swarm at the George 
                                                                                                   Walker House in Paradise  

Carol Comeau photographed this Elegant Trogon at the bridge on South Fork of Cave Creek

          Violet-crowned Hummingbird                                         Coues White-tailed Deer
Above and below photos by Debra Davison

Green-tailed Towhee

FOCCC 2020 Officers and Board

Reed Peters         President                           Other Board Members  
Sheri Ashley        Vice President                         Bob Ashley        
Mike Williams      Vice President 
                       Alan Craig        
Rick Beno 
 Rene Donaldson
Pat Parran            Secretary
Kim Vacariu
Cecil Williams 




Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon
PO Box 16126
Portal, Arizona 85632


Visit Our Website 


Thanks to our "Sustainer's Circle" and Lifetime Members 
for their generous support:  
Kirby Alguire, Tom Arny, Bob and Bettina Arrigoni, Susan Dalby & Eskild Petersen, Stephen Durkovich, L. Syrene Forsman, Mary George, Bill and Sally Hague, Paul Hirt and Linda Jakse, Fritz and Gayle Jandry, Don Hollister, Claudia Kirscher, Mike  Leuthold,  Barbara Lounsbery,  Patrick McNamara, John and Karin McQuillan, Barbara and Pete Miller, Patricia Parran, Cecilia Raak, Tom Roseman and Paula Baldwin, Delia Scholes and Ed Newbold, John and Linda Sumner, Jeff and Alice Wakefield, and Bob and Sherry Zoellick.

Please support 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 their names to check out their websites.    
                Cave Creek Ranch                          Chiricahua Desert Museum
            Naturalist Journeys, LLC                            A.S.K. Pest Control
                 Sky Island Rolfing                                          Wynne Brown 
                  Chiricahua Gallery                                     Daussin & Associates
                  Casa Petra Vera                                     Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist   
                    Umpres Propane                                      Sky Island Lodge
            Sky Island Grill & Grocery                        The George Walker House     
Portal Peak Store and Lodge                            OL' Morani Ranch          
Business Memberships start at just $50.00!