Field Trip

Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project image

Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP): a model for multi-agency collaboration and community outreach

Monday, September 11, 1 to 4 PM (Free)

Organizer: Matt Millar, City of Flagstaff 

In November 2012, the voters of Flagstaff overwhelmingly approved (74%) a $10-million-dollar bond to fund the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). This forest treatment effort, involving city, state, and federal lands, is designed to reduce the risk of high severity wildfire and subsequent post-fire flooding in two key watersheds important to Flagstaff.

Since the passage of the FWPP bond in 2012, over two thousand acres of forest treatments have been completed, with the majority of operations occurring in the Observatory Mesa Natural Area. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, FWPP personnel have planned and implemented nearly 1,000 acres of FWPP forest treatments across the Observatory Mesa Natural Area using an emerging and new forest management technology called the Digital Restoration Guide.
The field tour will take participants into a project location where the new Digital Restoration Guide technology has recently been utilized to implement forest treatments. This technology does not require trees within a treatment area to be painted or physically marked by timber crews. Instead, the written forest treatment prescriptions are used to create a geospatial database. This allows the forest treatment data to be entered into the database and then expressed in the form of georeferenced treatment maps. These maps are then displayed on digital displays in the cab of harvesting equipment, and assist the operators with real-time project implementation.

During the field tour, we will perform a walkthrough of a treatment area where the Digital Restoration Guide was used to plan and implement forest treatments in a wildland urban interface and high recreational use environment. We will discuss the successes, opportunities, and challenges of using this technology in an area highly visible to the community. We will also discuss FWPP more broadly as a multi-agency, and collaborative project. Specifically, we will share some of our insights and lessons learned on Observatory Mesa, and how FWPP has supported participation in multiple novel collaborations, implementation and testing of new forest thinning technologies, supported public outreach activities, and engaged undergraduate and graduate level students, as well as research organizations from Northern Arizona University.