A creek flowing through a brightly colored forest.
Arizona Forest West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon in Coconino National Forest, Arizona. © Gavin Emmons

Stories in Arizona

Restoring Arizona's Forests

Forests provide essential services to people and nature. Join us as we work to restore Arizona’s forests!

Working to Save Our Forests

Collaborative efforts are underway throughout the state to minimize the occurrence of mega-fires and improve forest health.

Arizona Forest Restoration Learn about how The Nature Conservancy is using innovative strategies to restore ponderosa pine forests in Arizona.

Healthy Forests Are Essential For Abundant, Clean Water

Healthy forests allow more water to reach our underground aquifers and our streams and rivers. In Arizona and the Southwest, where extended drought and increasing demand are putting pressure on our limited water supplies, Arizona’s forests are clearly critical to our water future.  

Arizona: Water's Journey From snowmelt in high country forests to the Verde River, water makes an amazing journey before it ultimately flows in the river that provides drinking water, crop irrigation and recreation.

Unfortunately, our forests are overcrowded and unhealthy. 

Years of fire suppression in our forests have created dense stands of small trees. After years of drought, these overgrown forests are at high risk of large, catastrophic mega-fires that put our communities and water supplies at risk. The small trees are like straws competing with each other to suck up precious groundwater. They also are like match sticks waiting to combust and flame the fires. Recent severe fires, including the Wallow Fire, burned homes, forced evacuations, degraded water supplies, restricted recreation, forced wildlife relocations and caused damaging erosion. The economic impact to Arizona citizens and businesses counted in the tens of millions of dollars. 

The Urgent Need:  Restoring Arizona’s Forests

The Nature Conservancy is a leading advocate of thinning our forests to restore a more natural, healthy balance and increase our water yield. New research now awaiting publication shows that forest thinning in the Salt and Verde River basins could yield substantially more water from the forest because there would be fewer trees competing for underground water. More underground water could mean more water for the streams and rivers, possibly offsetting water losses predicted from warming and drought conditions. Accelerated forest thinning would also reduce the risk of catastrophic forest fires that could befowl our streams and reservoirs with sediment and ash.  

Forest Management and the 2011 Wallow Fire In 2011, the Wallow Fire in Arizona's White Mountains burned almost 539,000 acres, becoming the largest megafire in the state's history.

What You Can Do

Join The Nature Conservancy in our critically important effort to restore Arizona forests and secure our water future. With your help, we can revive the important services our forests provide to people and nature.