Written by Sam Baggenstos, Wild Arizona’s Conservation Associate.

On April 16, Joe and I (Sam) drove up north from Tucson to work in the wet and wonderful Fossil Springs Wilderness. We continued our journey by hiking into the wilderness on the Flume Trail. Hudson Keffer, a restoration technician and GIS specialist for Friends of the Verde, our partner for this project, joined us on the hike in and stayed until noon the following day. This was my first time on the Flume Trail, and I enjoyed the rolling grade and lovely views of the Fossil Creek watershed on the hike in.

Joe begins the process of clearing out a spring. Photo by Sam Baggenstos.

After setting up camp and sleeping for our first night, we started our project by hiking up the creek a short distance to a spot where dozens of springs pour into Fossil. However, the springs in this area are almost completely obscured by a dense wall of Himalayan blackberry. Our task was to locate and clear out the area around a particular spring at which an endemic species of snails is being monitored. Because of the continued encroachment of the Himalayan Blackberry, it proved somewhat difficult to locate the spring. After clearing out several incorrect spots we were finally able to locate what appears to be the correct spring.

The finished product of an adjacent spring to the one pictured above.

Our next task was to continue a Himalayan blackberry treatment project that Friends of the Verde has been working on for several years. It was good to see the native dewberry growing and spreading, uninhibited by invasive plants. In the spots where treatment of non-native blackberry had already taken place, it was encouraging to see even less plants resprouting than was seen in previous trips to the area. For retreatment, Joe and I carefully trimmed away all regrowth and applied a small dab of herbicide to the cut stems. After finishing that retreatment, we began an initial treatment of an adjacent patch of blackberry, making good progress.

Sam cools off after work in one of the many springs in Fossil Creek.

It’s exciting to see that the Friend’s of the Verde’s efforts are breathing life back into areas that up until recently were dominated by a non-native monoculture.

Until next time! Happy Trails!


Cacti in bloom.