Conservation Study Forum

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Conservation Study Forum 2019 Update

The Conservation Study Forum started to come together in 1998, a group of local scientists and knowledgeable citizens acting as individuals responded to the call for public input on resources for the 1998 Flagstaff Area Open Spaces & Greenways Plan, the 2001 Flagstaff Area Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan and the 2003 Coconino County Comprehensive Plan. This group came to be known as the Expert Forum with most of our members having acquired expertise in resource management through their employment and have a number of years of work in the area to their credit. Other members, who have joined over the years, offer knowledge gained through public service on boards and involvement in planning and management. Pooling their expertise, they volunteered to identify and map areas of natural, historic, and cultural significance. Following review by city staff and further public comment, planning staff incorporated much of the Forum’s information into the original Flagstaff Area Regional Plan process.

After the Flagstaff Area Regional Plan 2030 was approved by the voters in 2014, The Conservation Study Forum and Habitat Harmony worked together for three years to draft amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that would implement Resource Protection goals in the Regional Plan. The City of Flagstaff planning and zoning staff was a significant help. Background on this effort is explained in a fall 2017 letter to the mayor and council:

2018 Letter to Council

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On November 21, 2017, the Conservation Study Forum and Habitat Harmony presented a Citizen’s Petition to the city council to put Amendments to the Resource Protection section of the Zoning Ordinance on their agenda as soon as possible. All members of the council agreed. Please have a look at the petition below to see the work done to procure this future spot on the agenda:

2018 Petition to Council

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Due to loss of staff in the zoning and planning departments at the City of Flagstaff and time required to find new staff, the Resource Protection Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance are scheduled to be on council’s agenda in the fall of 2019 and winter of 2020. Here are the Amendments as submitted by the Conservation Study Forum and Habitat Harmony. We will work with zoning staff during the process of incorporating them into the Zoning Ordinance. Below are each amendment and our recommendations:

Conserving Prairie Dog Colonies in the City of Flagstaff

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Conserving Seeps & Springs in City of Flagstaff

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Conserving Rock Outcrops in City of Flagstaff

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Fences in Wildlife Corridors

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Conservation Study Forum 2012 Update

The Conservation Study Forum (CSF) has continued to meet once a month in 2012. During the summer of 2012 the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Regional Plan did not meet as a group but participated in small working group that focused on individual Elements of the Regional Plan. Several members of the CSF met with working groups including Economic Development, Design Scenarios, Transportation and Circulation. We also met with the Natural Resources Map working group. Our members contributed a large portion of the GIS information on natural resources for the Concentration of Natural Resources Map and the Natural Resources Flora, Fauna and Geology Map. See the City of Flagstaff Regional Plan website

We are currently giving input to conservation and development of state land parcels. Soon we will be reviewing the Land Use Element of the Regional Plan.

During 2012 we wrote a vision/mission statement for the Conservation Study Forum. Please click here for that document!

Throughout 2011 the Conservation Study Forum, which is an incarnation of the Expert Forum for wildlife and Open Spaces continued the work of the revision of the Regional Plan The Forum is a group of local scientists who volunteer their time and professional expertise to critically analyze draft text, goals, policies and maps during the revision of the Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan to ensure that they are informed by current scientific consensus and use appropriate vocabulary.

The group met approximately once a month throughout the year. In addition our Board Member Tish and various others attended the monthly Citizens Advisory Committee meetings.

Three major things were accomplished:

  1. A policy to implement a network of Watchable Wildlife Sites is included in the Environment and Conservation Element. Arizona Game & Fish has written a paper on what this network would look like.
  2. A policy to establish a Conservation Lands System* is included in the Open Space Element.
  3. The Development Scenario process will include information on natural and cultural resources to be conserved on both a macro and a micro level. You can learn more about the Development Scenario process on the city website at The Conservation Study Forum (Expert Forum) submitted a response to Design Charrette and Measurements – Sept. 3, 2011, which you can read at the bottom of the page linked.

The Conservation Study Forum is currently creating a structure to organize and prioritize data on natural, cultural and historical resources worthy of conservation and why this is so. Our work will be submitted to the planners and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the iteration of the Development Scenario which will include micro issues.

Habitat Harmony is very appreciative of the contribution of many scientists to this process. It is through their effort and dedication that the revised Regional Plan will have information needed to know what resources should be conserved in the Flagstaff area.

*A Conservation Land System is a process of identifying areas of biological, cultural, and historical significance that are most important for conservation. This can include habitat for wildlife species of concern, sensitive plant communities, riparian areas, archaeological sites, working ranchlands, etc. Conservation can be achieved through a variety of means, including acquisition, conservation easement, transfer of development rights, conservation-based ordinances and guidelines, and intergovernmental agreements. (From Regional Plan Environmental Conservation Element DRAFT, 2011)

A Message to Humans

"I used to be a city fellow.  I grew up with the city noises of cars and trains and machines and humans.  My family lived close to downtown Flagstaff not far from the railroad tracks along Route 66.  What a busy, frightening place it was."
Read My Letter to You

Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

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