For its first grantee, the Overland Expo Foundation provided funding for Natural Restorations for two weeks of replanting projects at Four Peaks and Lower Sycamore in the Tonto National Forest, an overlanding area with iconic views.
The five-member dedicated Restoration Team was able to salvage and save hundreds of amazing cacti (saguaro, ocotillo, fishhook barrel, hedgehog, beehive, and teddy bear, staghorn, & chainfruit cholla) from construction & private land sites that would have otherwise been destroyed. They transported cacti to the burn scar areas, dug holes to the appropriate depth and width, strategically placed cacti where they would have the best chance of survival, and replanted cacti.
On February 19, 2022, Natural Restorations then hosted a volunteer replanting event for community members, in which 87 volunteers, including 17 youth volunteers, donated 287.15 hours of their time to replanting.
Overall, the dedicated team replanted 656 cacti in the Bush Fire Burn Scar, with volunteers helping plant 145 cacti and spread 198 packs of Sonoran Desert Wildflower seeds donated by SWCA Environmental. Volunteers removed 297 pounds of trash, 2 tires and helped remove 100’s of bunches of invasive buffelgrass to help reduce fuel for future fires.
These beautiful areas are perfect for overlanding, camping, off-highway vehicles, hiking, and more. Anyone visiting these areas — the overland community, the outdoor community, Arizona residents, and out of state visitors — can see an immediate impact of the native desert restoration efforts.
Replanting this burn scar not only improves the appearance of the area, it also improves the usability and safety of the for the outdoor community. Bringing native plant communities back to these watersheds helps soil stabilization, reduces the effects of erosion caused by water and wind, and wildlife will also benefit from the replanting of their native habitat, providing a healthy ecosystem.
This project also benefited the Military Veterans working on our team by providing opportunities to make lasting impacts on Arizona’s outdoor recreation and wilderness areas while working side-by-side with other veterans.
The replanting of the burn scar at the Bush Fire is an ongoing process. If you’d like to find out more or take part in the next volunteer event, visit naturalrestorations.org.