Aspen Groves



Aspen Groves? No, that's not someone who went to school with you. The photo above is of Patty Ringle. Patty is with the Coconino National Forest. More to the point, Patty is looking for our help. She is coordinating a program to protect and expand the beautiful and colorful aspen groves around Flagstaff.

The Forest Service has built fences around a number of aspen groves to protect young trees from elk and other threats. With the fences to protect them, young aspen trees have a chance of growing to grow tall enough that elk can't eat the top out of them. Now the Forest Service has more fences than maintenance people... and money.

You and your neighbors... or your company can help by adopting a fence and maintaining it... once in the spring, and once in the fall. That will allow your aspen grove to mature and add color to our forest.

Here is the on information Patty's program, called the Adopt An Aspen Fence Volunteer Program.



Click on the box... and have Google start putting money in your bank account!

Adopt an Aspen Fence Volunteer Program


What is Happening to the Aspen?  Aspen communities represent ecologically unique sites within the Coconino National Forest that contribute to increased biological diversity.  Aspen stands across the forest have been in a gradual state of decline over the past 50 years due to fire suppression and extreme browsing pressure from elk.  In addition, aerial and ground detection surveys have determined a large rate of decline in aspen clones across northern Arizona over the past few years due to defoliation by a severe frost event that occurred in early June 1999.  The result of this variety of pressures is many aspen stands are nearing 100% mortality.  Monitoring plots located in aspen stands across the Coconino National Forest exhibit a combination of symptoms including reduced canopies, branch dieback, increased mortality, encroachment of ponderosa pine, and a lack of aspen regeneration.  Mortality of mature aspen coupled with continued browsing damage by elk is expected to result in an eventual type conversion from aspen to ponderosa pine or grassland. 

Aspen Fence:
Currently, the Peaks and Mormon Lake Ranger Districts have 34 aspen exclosure fences (approximately 72,000 perimeter feet) to protect aspen seedlings from elk browsing.  Of these 34 fences, 22 fences are in need of light to heavy maintenance, representing a major maintenance challenge.  Although the Coconino National Forest Leadership Team has identified the enhancement of aspen and maintenance of aspen exclosures as a goal for 2006, funding is neither forth coming nor expected.  The Peaks and Mormon Lake Ranger Districts want the help of interested individuals or groups to help maintain these critical aspen exclosures.

What Volunteers Can Do:  The Adopt an Aspen Fence Project has been developed to work with volunteers to help maintain aspen exclosure fence on a biannual basis.  Volunteers will coordinate work with a designated Forester to monitor their adopted section of fence(s) twice per year (May and Sept-Oct) by walking the perimeter of the fence to check for breaks and weaknesses in the fence.  Volunteers will also perform light to moderate fence maintenance/repair as needed at the same time.  The Forester will also help Volunteers with tools, supplies, safety information, and project direction.  Requirements of volunteers who adopt a fence are: 1) to follow all safety direction and work techniques outlined by the Forester; 2) coordinate project days in advance with the Forester; 3) report back to the Forester after work is completed; 4) become officially signed up with a simple 2 page Volunteer Agreement, which the Forester will also help coordinate.  

What is the work like and what is needed for safety?  Fence monitoring, maintenance, and repair will require walking and standing on uneven, rough terrain.  Good sturdy boots or heavy shoes with ankle support and good treads are essential to maintain safe footing and protect your feet from common forest hazards and dropped tools. Long pants and long sleeve shirts are also required for work to protect limbs from brush, wire, insects, etc.  A hard hat is required while working in aspen stands and the Forest Service will provide this to you on project days.  Most of these aspen stands have large standing dead aspen trees that pose a hazard.  Trees may fall at any time.  Care must be taken when working around these dead trees.  Fence material includes metal t-posts and wire field fence.  These items can be heavy and awkward to carry and work with, so information will be provided on how to handle these materials safely.  Heavy gloves must also be worn at all times to protect hands from sharp wire, pinched fingers, prevent blisters, etc.

Transportation to and from the work site is the Volunteer�s responsibility and compensation for vehicle maintenance; fuel; etc. are not available.  To reach many of the aspen fences, you will be required to drive on dirt roads.  Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended but not required.  Watch for potholes, steep embankments, flooded or washed out areas, wildlife, dust, etc.  Drive slowly.

For more information or to Adopt An Aspen Fence: contact Forester, Patty Ringle 928-527-8285, [email protected] or Volunteer Coordinator, Nina Hubbard 928-527-8213.


Reproduced below is the Press Release put out when the program was first publicized. The release adds more information for your consideration.


Help Aspen, Adopt a Fence

Flagstaff- Aspen need help. Not only do aspen communities provide a pleasing patchwork of color and texture across the landscape, but they also represent ecologically unique sites within the Coconino National Forest that contribute to increased biological diversity. Aspen stands have been in a gradual state of decline over the past 50 years due to fire suppression and browsing from elk. A severe frost in June, 1999 literally nipped aspens in the bud as they were leafing out, causing widespread defoliation of trees already stressed by drought. The result of these pressures is the possibility of losing a part of the forest valued by both wildlife and people.

            There is hope! Foresters have proven that constructing tall exclosure fences around stands of aspen give them a fighting chance to grow tall enough to withstand munching by elk. The Peaks and Mormon Lake Districts of the Coconino National Forest have 34 such exclosure fences protecting aspen, about 72,000 perimeter feet. That�s a lot of fence requiring regular maintenance and the Forest Service doesn�t have sufficient staff or funding to keep up on all that fencing.

            The Forest Service is asking for help and many have already volunteered to �Adopt an Aspen Fence.� Volunteers sign up to monitor and repair their adopted section of fence twice a year, May and September-October, for at least one year. Most aspen fences are within a 30-minute drive of Flagstaff. The Forest Service provides coordination, tools, supplies and safety and fencing training. Volunteers provide their time and labor.

            Several groups have already signed up as �Adopt a Fence� volunteers, including Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona (VOA), NAU Forestry Club, Flagstaff Nordic Center, as well as local families. Home Depot helped by offering a discount on fence materials.

            �Between the elk, falling snags, snow loading and lack of funding, these fences are hard enough to maintain. We�ve seen more damage caused by someone cutting the fences, so it�s nearly impossible for us to keep up with the maintenance,� said Patty Ringle, forester on the Peaks and Mormon Lake Ranger Districts. �We�re relying on people who appreciate aspen to help out.�    

For more information and to sign up, contact Patty Ringle, 928-527-8285, [email protected], or Nina Hubbard, 928-527-8213.



Return to Local News Page

About This Site Have you read this page lately?

Return to Home Page


flagstaff mortgage

Copyright � 2006 Fred Doyle. All Rights Reserved.