Friends of Verde River Greenway awarded grants

COTTONWOOD - Friends of Verde River Greenway (FVRG) has been awarded two grants to continue riparian habitat improvement activities on public lands along the Verde River. FVRG is the lead non-profit of the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC), a partnership including public land managers, local municipalities, community based organizations and more than 200 private landowners.

As part of America's Great Outdoors 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Initiative, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) launched Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists program, which is designed to support organizations like FVRG that are developing innovative job opportunities that expose young adults to career opportunities available in conservation. FVRG was awarded $49,765 for habitat improvement projects on Prescott National Forest land along the Verde River between Perkinsville and Sycamore Creek. FVRG will partner with Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) to employee Verde Valley young adults to carry out this work.

The Yavapai County Resource Advisory Committee awarded FVRG $74,005 to continue habitat improvement work at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Verde River Greenway and the Town of Clarkdale. The Verde River provides breeding habitat for many migratory birds, including the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, an endangered bird that nests in the Cottonwood/Willow Gallery Forest along the Verde River. Site evaluations and bird surveys are conducted by US Fish and Wildlife Service and AZ Game and Fish to ensure that all riparian restoration work will be done with respect to the bird populations.

Since 2012, FVRG and VWRC partners have employed more than 50 young adult and local veterans to perform habitat improvement work along the Verde River and its tributaries by removing invasive plants and restoring riparian habitat on both public and private land. VWRC begins its third treatment season in September, continuing the public/private partnership that successfully works towards healthier riparian areas throughout the Verde Watershed.

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