During the spring of 2007, a group of long-time river activists wanted to take a more “hands-on” approach to protect the longest free-flowing stream in Arizona, the Verde River.
At the same time, Arizona State Parks was seeking a non-governmental partner to assist with conservation and public outreach efforts to support the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area. Friends of the Verde River (at that time called Friends of Verde River Greenway) emerged as an affiliate of Arizona State Parks Foundation committing to river restoration and enhancement projects as well as introductory canoe trips on the river. In partnership with other environmental and civic organizations, Friends conducted regular weekend volunteer projects to protect and enhance this delicate riparian corridor while promoting stewardship in the community.
In late summer of 2009, with the assistance of the Arizona State Parks Foundation and the Verde Watershed Association, Friends embarked on a course to build capacity within the organization and expand community participation in support of its mission.
In 2010 the Walton Family Foundation provided funding for the development of the Verde River Cooperative Invasive Plant Management Plan (CIPMP), a five-year plan that outlines goals to manage invasive species while supporting our local communities both socially and economically. Friends was a significant contributor to plan development.
In December 2011, Friends of the Verde River (at that time called Friends of Verde River Greenway) was established as a 501(c)3 and became independent of Arizona State Parks Foundation. Friends continues its close partnership with Arizona State Parks.
In early 2012, Friends hired its first employees and took on a leadership role in the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) a public/private collaborative charged with implementing CIPMP.
2017 has been a busy year for Friends, as we have merged with two of our partner organizations: the Verde River Basin Partnership (Partnership) and the Verde River Valley Nature Organization (VRVNO).
Bringing in the educational outreach and scientific resource strengths of the Partnership, as well as the natural history and outdoor education event expertise of VRVNO, Friends has been able to strengthen our capacity to achieve our mission and vision. Reflective of this, is our exciting name change to Friends of the Verde River.
Currently, Friends has an expansive range of programs which include habitat improvement, channel restoration, flow restoration, and sustainable river recreation while continuing to engage the community through outreach and volunteer programs.