Pink Jeep Tours has announced a partnership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) that will help protect the Oak Creek and Verde River watersheds by funding restoration projects on the Coconino National Forest. Through the partnership, Pink Jeep Tours will collect donations from its customers for the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, a program developed by the NFF and Salt River Project (SRP) that is designed to improve forest health and water quality in the Salt and Verde River watersheds.

National Forest lands in northern Arizona are some of the state’s most popular tourist destinations and also the primary source of surface water for the Phoenix metro area. For more than 50 years, Pink Jeep Tours has provided visitors with unique access to some of Arizona’s most famous natural features, like Sedona’s red rock canyons that lie in the heart of the Coconino National Forest. Increasingly severe wildfires, drought and historic land management practices have negatively affected the health of these forests, the water they supply and the sustainability of Arizona’s tourism industry. Through this new partnership, Pink Jeep Tours and the NFF will conduct activities that enhance the outdoor experiences of visitors to the Coconino National Forest and help ensure sustainable, high-quality water supplies for downstream users.

“The reason people come to the Southwest is to experience the most beautiful scenery on earth,” explains Chris Epper, Director of Marketing for Pink Jeep Tours. “For that reason alone, sustainable tourism and stewardship is essential to our business, but our motives run deeper. Our president, Shawn Wendell, has a personal commitment to the environment, and its preservation is seen every day throughout many aspects of our business, including numerous programs that focus on preservation, conservation, and education.”

Developed in partnership with SRP, the NFF’s Northern Arizona Forest Fund works with local governments, businesses and Arizona residents that want to invest in the lands and watersheds they depend on. The NFF then partners with the U.S. Forest Service, local nonprofits and private contractors to implement projects that reduce wildfire risk, improve streams and wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat, restore native plants, and limit erosion and sediment into Arizona streams, rivers and reservoirs. Numerous other local businesses are also supporting the Northern Arizona Forest Fund to help protect the water sources that are vital to the success of their businesses and local communities.

“We are very excited that the Pink Jeep Tours is investing in National Forest lands to support sustainable tourism and help protect water supplies,” said Marcus Selig, NFF’s Interim Vice President. “This investment will allow us to accomplish some very meaningful, high priority on-the-ground activities on the Coconino National Forest in the Oak Creek and larger Verde River watersheds.”

Implementation of the Northern Arizona Forest Fund’s two 2014-15 projects is wrapping up. One project is reducing erosion and sedimentation into Oak Creek by improving drainage from forest roads on the Coconino National Forest near Sedona. The other project is reducing wildfire risk and protecting endangered species habitat near the Happy Jack area on the Coconino National Forest.

In 2015-16, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund will implement six high-priority projects on all five National Forests in northern Arizona – the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests – including drainage improvement activities on the popular Schnebly Hill Road, near Sedona.