Habitat Restoration within Cave Creek Watershed

Cave Creek at the town of Cave Creek

Go to event descriptions and photo albums

Projects Goals

Our strategic goal on Cave Creek is to do what we can to raise the water table. We will never get it back to where it was, but changes in policy and practices by governmental agencies that control land within the watershed, private property owners, and certain interventions may reestablish flows through a great part of the year. By removing the woody vegetation that came to be there because of past management practices, this drain on the water table will be reduced. The most problematic of woody species in the area are some shrubs that were introduced more than a century ago from Eurasia. There are a wide variety of erosion control, and water-slowing and water harvesting interventions that can also contribute to water retention, regeneration of native flora, and improvement of wildlife habitat as well as aesthetic and recreational values.

A watershed is a drainage area, as the sketch above suggests. As water moves off the landscape it finds the easiest route where it gathers making a rill. Rills join together to form larger rills or rivulets. Rivulets join together to make washes then streams and finally rivers. The rivulets cover the area of the washes watershed; the washes cover the area for the streams watershed and so on. The largest unit is a basin, like the Colorado River Basin which drains from seven states and covers an area of 246,000 square miles. The Cave Creek watershed starts in the Tonto National Forest and passes through the town of cave Creek, the area of our primary focus. It continues in a southwesterly direction toward Phoenix passing through the Sonoran Preserve of Phoenix where couple of dams have been built to impound flooding--for good reason. It appears to end at the Arizona Canal near Metrocenter--engineered out of existence. DFLT and VOAz are interested in the reach from above the impoundment north to the headwaters at Seven Springs.

Several things affect how a watershed operates. For one, topography, topography is what sets the boundaries of a watershed. The local climate dictates how much water is in your watershed. Those are well beyond our scope, but other things are within our control. You might not think that we can control the depth of the water table-but we sure can influence it (that's watershed management).

For more information on Watersheds
Links: http://ag.arizona.edu/oals/watershed/basics.html

VOAz habitat restoration work within Cave Creek started in December, 2005. Work connected with the goals of this project was actually undertaken as part of other projects (listed below). Work is likely to continue for the foreseeable future." The events starting in December of 2005 have focused of Saltcedar removal. Here are some of the reasons why this work is critical to the long term health of the watershed.

Some VOAz events within the watershed involve trail construction and maintenance. To the extent they contribute to the health of the habitat by channeling public access onto planned trails and to the extent these trails minimize the damage as the result of trail use, they may be considered conservation work. When trail work results in landscape manipulations that actually contribute to ecological health, trail work can at times be instruments of restoration. Some will argue that only sequestering land from human access can contribute to conservation or restoration. We respectfully disagree. Moreover, in the context of this project this is not viable option for several reasons.

Other projects that have contributed to the goals of Habitat Restoration within Cave Creek Watershed:

Lou Menk Trail at P.A. Seitts Preserve (11/01/06 - links to be added)
Conservation work at Jewel of The Creek Preserve (11/01/06 - links to be added)
Conservation Work at P.A. Seitts Preserve (11/01/06 - links to be added)

Project Leader: Michael Baker


Completed Events

December 3, 2005
January 21, 2006
February 18, 2006
December 2 & 3, 2006
January 13, 2007

December 3, 2005

Saltcedar Removal  Photo Album

Forty-three very hard working VOAz and DFLT volunteers substantially reduced the largest infestation of Salt Cedar on Cave Creek.

Leadership Team: Event Manager: Sandra Stirnweis; Crew Leaders: Eric Anderson, Anna Ryan, and Marge Sparks, Daniel Knowmueller; Technical Advisor: Michael Baker; Tool Manager: Mike Snodgrass; Food Service: Bob Royal

Crew Members: Kirk Anderson, Judy Breen, Marc Brown, Norma Brown, William Cochran, Kris Cummings, Jesse Dwyer, Ken Gousman, Russell Hansen, Inge Harper, Robert Harper, Seth Hennessee, Helen Hill, Chuck Horner, Nancy Hughes, Amy Hyde, Els Janus, Jack Janus, Steve Jones, Gail Landry, Jason Long, Bruce McIntyre, Randy Mettler, Peter Michels, John Mullen, Laura Prato, Bob Roffler, June Roffler, Bob Royal, Ken Ryan, Sue Thiebes, Angel Vogelsang, Rick Vogelsang, Dave Weber, Wendy West (bold = first VOAz event)

Thanks to Thom Hulen of DFLT for providing the dumpster, shipper, and extra tools.

Total volunteer hours: 231

Thanks to our event sponsor: Desert Foothills Land Trust through a Healthy Forests Grant


January 21, 2006

Saltcedar Removal  Photo Album

Thirty-four volunteers braved a chilly start to the work day and provided their time and energy to cutting and removing salt cedar from an estimated 5-10 acres along Cave Creek which resulted in 30 cubic yards of ground up salt cedar. In addition, it was the 10th event (10-pin event) for Carl Golnik and the 100th event for Michael Baker. Special thanks to Thom Hulen for his Salt Cedar presentation and the post event beer and to Don Kehr for giving us access via his property to the work sites and for providing a cooler full of soda.

Leadership Team: Event Manager - Kris Cummings; Technical Advisor - Michael Baker; Tool Manager - Mike Galwey; Food Service - Bob Royal; Photographer - Gail Landry

Crew Members: Eric Anderson, Bill Beal, Rita Brady, Dennis Cooley, Melissa Geiger, Carl Golnik, Kenneth Gousman, Johnnie Grgurich, Sandy Heunisch, Bryce Holmgren, Nancy Hughes,  Monika Jankowski, Els Janus, Jack Janus, Mike Langley, Betsy Loeb, Jim Mathis, John Mullen, Ted Osmond, Paul Peterson, Troy Regan, Bob Roffler, June Roffler, Ken Satoyoshi, Wendy Satoyoski, Marilyn Schrab, Mike Snodgrass, Dave Toon (bold = first VOAz event)

Total volunteer hours: 228

Thanks to our event sponsor: Desert Foothills Land Trust through a Healthy Forests Grant


February 18, 2006

Saltcedar Removal  Photo Album

Twenty-give (25) volunteers came together on a beautiful Arizona day for the third in a series of salt cedar removal events on Cave Creek. The fearless crew worked efficiently and tirelessly and filled two bins and a trailer with 35 cubic yards of salt cedar (a bit shy of Johnnie's requested 40 tons). Additional tasks accomplished at this event: building a rock bridge across the creek, trailer rescue, and a belated birthday celebration for Michael Baker.

Special thanks to Thom Hulen for his salt cedar presentation and drinks that were provided. Also, our thanks to Don & Teresa Kehr for giving us access to their trailer and property for salt cedar removal, shaded backyard for lunch, and for Teresa's help with the work.

Thanks to the following volunteers who filled important positions: Greeter-Ben Collins; Dispatcher-Gail Landry; Parking Lot Director (PLD)-Sue Thiebes

Leadership Team: Event Manager-Johnnie Grgurich; Technical Advisor-Michael Baker; Tool Manager & Bin Duty-Mike Galwey; Food Service-Mellissa Geiger (first stint and well done); Photographer-Johnnie Grgurich

Work Crew Members: Emilie Ashby, Judy Breen, Ben Collins, Dennis Cooley, Melissa Geiger, Kenneth Gousman, Els Janus, Jack Janus, William Jones, Teresa Kehr, Gail Landry, Susan Long, Jim Mathis, Peter Michels, Mark Minisce, John Mullen, Paul Peterson, Rogil Schroeter, Linda Shilling, Greg Stipek, Sue Thiebes, Joseph Zveglich (bold = first VOAz event)

Total volunteer hours: 153.5

Thanks to our event sponsor: Desert Foothills Land Trust through a Healthy Forests Grant


December 2 & 3, 2006

Entire crew lopping, sawing and painting saltcedar

Saltcedar removal Photo Album

Thirty-three volunteers arrived early Saturday and/or Sunday to cut and remove saltcedar from the creek channel, use the cuttings to block off the abandoned road, then Sunday was spent applying the much easier "hack and squirt" method of Garlon treatment to the rest of the infestation. A whopping half mile of creek bed was treated, fountain and buffle grass were removed from the area, and closed off an abandoned road segment.

Congratulations to Mike Galwey for completion of his 50th event.  Also, leadership presentations of a water bottle, name tag, and/or shirt were presented to Lou Arminio and Johnnie Grgurich.

Thanks to the work crew members and leadership team: Lou Arminio (crew leader), Michael Baker (technical advisor), Judy Breen, Mark Brown, Barbara Bruno (food service), Pam Cissik, Ben Collins, Mike Galwey (tool manager), Melissa Geiger, Doug Gregory, Johnnie Grgurich, Marilynn Grieser (food service), Russell Hansen, Sue Heidtke, Lou Hoover, Els Janus, Jack Janus, Daniel Knollmueller (crew leader), Gail Landry, Gilbert Maldonado, Jonathan Maldonado, Peter Michels, Ken Ryan, Anna Ryan (crew leader), Marilyn Schrab (food service manager), Mike Snodgrass, Dana Stedron (event manager and technical advisor), Ed Stedron, Trudy Tanner, Nell Teter, Sue Thiebes, Doris Tillman, and Joseph Zveglich (crew leader) (Bold = first VOAz event)

Special thanks to Thom Hulen, from Desert Foothills Land Trust, for his lunch time presentation.

Total Volunteer Hours: 336.5

Thanks to our event sponsor: Desert Foothills Land Trust


January 13, 2007

Saltcedar removal

Thirteen volunteers implemented a test program of three alternative treatments. Dana Stedron, Amicorps member and VOAz Ecologist selected three similar clumps of Saltcedar. On one herbicide was placed at the base of all stems only (basal bark treatment). At a second clump, stems were scarred or broken and herbicide was placed on the breaks ("slash and treat" is a Stedron innovation).  The third cluster was give the traditional or most common treatment other than uprooting--cut  all stems and treat stumps. The first two methods definitely were less time and energy intensive. Each clump was tagged and will be visited annually for the next two year to determine the outcomes. Look for the results in the Tuesday science section of the New York Times.

Work Crew Members: Michael Baker, Marc Brown, Steve Corvin, Doug Gregory,Russell Hansen, Inge Harper, Robert Harper, Sally Kirch, Judy Mullen, John Mullen, Ed Stedron, and Nell Teter   (Bold = first VOAz event)
Leadership Team: Dana Stedron, Event Manager and TA.
Total Volunteer Hours: 52

Thanks to our event sponsor: Desert Foothills Land Trust