Joining Forces to Restore the Tonto National Forest

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with an amazing nonprofit organization working to restore and revegetate parts of the Tonto National Forest that were burned in Arizona’s 5th largest wildfire, the 2020 Bush Fire. Most of the fire occurred in the Sonoran Desert, an ecosystem not evolved or adapted to wildfires.


Natural Restorations was founded in 2015 by husband-and-wife team Justin and Nicole Corey. Its mission is to remove trash and graffiti from outdoor recreation and wilderness areas, revitalize natural areas through replanting projects, and enrich the lives of military veterans & other community members.


“When we first connected and I was learning about their story, I just knew we had to develop a partnership,” The Great Outdoors Fund (TGOF) Founder, Lori McCullough said. “They are dedicated to being good stewards of our public lands and ensuring that people can enjoy them for years to come, and that’s what we’re all about.”


Natural Restorations and TGOF are working to raise about $43,000 to match with a grant Natural Restorations has already been awarded. So, a total of $86,000 will specifically support the salvaging and replanting of saguaros and other native desert plants destroyed in the 2020 Bush Fire. The fire burned over 190,000 acres of land, including over 80,000 saguaros. Most people don’t know that when we lose an adult saguaro to fire, it will not be replaced in our lifetime because they have no defense against fire and cannot rebound from fire damage. Funds raised from this effort will support an additional five weeks of cacti salvaging and replanting projects for their team and a second volunteer replanting event. 


“The saguaros we lost during the Bush Fire will not grow back,” Nicole Corey, Natural Restorations, Executive Director & Co-Founder, said. “It’s critical we do everything possible to restore the unique Sonoran Desert ecosystem and improve the appearance, usability, and safety of the area for locals and visitors alike.”


The salvage and planting effort is a manual process. Natural Restorations military veteran-based Dedicated Restoration Team uses hand tools to dig up saguaros and other native desert plants from construction sites and private properties where they would otherwise be destroyed. Their team transports and replants them in the burn scar.


“Our public lands are one of the most valuable gifts we can leave our children and grandchildren,” McCullough added. “We hope that people locally and beyond will step up and support these efforts.”


All of the funds raised through The Great Outdoors Fund’s website will go directly to the project. To make a financial gift to this program, please click here.

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