New Friends of the Forest volunteers learning about the various committees and volunteer opportunities during the annual New Member Event. Photo courtesy of Jerry Checchia.

Friends of the Forest Sedona is a 30-year old all-volunteer nonprofit. Members are dedicated to maintaining, protecting and restoring the scenic beauty of the National Forest lands in the greater Sedona area. By building a partnership with the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest, Friends of the Forest volunteers help fill the gap between the Forest Service’s needs and their resources. FOF provides manpower and financial resources to assist the Forest Service in their day-to-day operations.

Friends of the Forest’s primary goals are:

  • Help Forest Service maintain its trails and cultural resources
  • Reduce environmental damage caused by increasing human impact
  • Assist in education and improve communication with the community
  • Enhance the forest experience for visitors and residents alike

As stewards of the forest, FOF members are offered personal enrichment and public service opportunities that suit their interests and time. Friends of the Forest has over a dozen active committees that members can become involved in and range from technology support to educating visitors to maintaining trails. All committees have volunteer leaders that work together with the Forest Service to ensure volunteers have an enriching experience while achieving the Forest Service’s goals.

Training is always provided so don’t let lack of experience prevent you from joining one or more Friends of the Forest committees:

Air Quality and Water Monitoring – Volunteers assist the Forest Service with the replacement of air sampling filters at Fossil Creek and/or collecting water samples from Oak Creek and Fossil Creek. Work entails utilizing a Forest Service vehicle to reach remote sites, replacing filters, logging data, collecting samples, and returning items for laboratory analysis.

Cultural Resources – These volunteers get trained as docents who provide information to visitors about the ancient cultures that once lived or visited the Palatki Red Cliffs and V-Bar-V Heritage Sites. Additional opportunities include photographing and documenting cultural sites.

Graffiti Remediation – Working individually and/or during team outings, these volunteers remove graffiti (rock etchings, paint, rock cairns, stickers, etc.) throughout the Red Rock Ranger District.

Interpretive & Education Programs – This group organizes classroom talks, demonstrations, and hikes to learn about local heritage, geology, plants and animals.

Motorized Environmental Restoration – Volunteers focus on maintaining and restoring the integrity of surrounding habitats along motorized trails, including drainage, delineation, and restoration activities. They also work with other local volunteer groups doing kiosk and fencing installation along motorized trails.

River Ranger Support – These volunteers support the Forest Service Rangers who patrol the federally protected portion of the Verde River between Camp Verde and Cave Springs. Volunteers drop-off Rangers and their supplies at the start of their trip and pick them up several days later at the end of their trip. Volunteers will be assisted in obtaining or renewing their government driver’s license.

Trail Patrol – Wearing Forest Service volunteer identification, volunteers function as goodwill ambassadors answering questions, promoting safety, and encouraging Leave No Trace practices, while out on their own hikes. Trail Patrol also reports graffiti, potential trail issues, and the volume of hikers, bikers, and trash on the trail.

Trail Maintenance and Construction – On a regular basis, these volunteers work as a group maintaining existing non-motorized trails, assisting in building new trails, and undertaking miscellaneous labor-intense special projects. Tools, hardhats, and “on the job” training are provided.

Trailhead Beautification – First impressions are vital and these volunteers focus on specific Forest Service trailheads and parking lots. Work includes regularly picking up litter, clearing weeds, branches and brush, and repairing fencing.

Visitor Information Services – These volunteers are often the first people visitors meet at the front desk of the Ranger Station and Visitor Center. They provide information about recreation options on the Coconino National Forest around Sedona.

Wildlife/Fish/Rare Plants – These volunteers work on a host of projects that are coordinated by the district wildlife biologist. Projects range from minimizing human impact on wildlife to monitoring endangered species to removing invasive plants. “Citizen Scientists” can learn about local flora, fauna and lichen.

Additional volunteer opportunities exist on the technology team (FOF’s website, apps, and volunteer system); in providing hospitality (food and beverages) during meetings; managing FOF membership; seasonally with Preventative Search and Rescue; and other special projects.

Only Friends of the Forest members can join a committee and volunteer. Annual membership is $25 per individual and $35 per family. Lifetime membership costs $150 per individual and $250 per family. Visit for additional information and join today!

This year’s Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Event will take place on Saturday, November 4, 2023. If you join now, you’ll be able to meet not only other members, but also the Forest Service employees Friends of the Forest works with on a daily basis.

Serving Sedona, written this week by Carol Dores and Melissa Pontikes, Friends of the Forest, appears Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News.