Supporting Military Veterans and Local Ecosystems Through Natural Restorations' Lower Salt River Restoration Project

Supporting Military Veterans and Local Ecosystems Through Natural Restorations' Lower Salt River Restoration Project

Written by Cassandra Savel, associate analyst, corporate social responsibility

Natural Restorations’ dedicated restoration team (left to right): Justin Ballard, Nicole Corey, Justin Corey, Derick Cotton, and Sean Brooks. Photo courtesy of Natural Restorations.

Justin Ballard watering a Fremont Cottonwood. Each newly planted tree received about five gallons of water, no easy task in the middle of the desert. Photo Courtesy of Natural Restorations.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 9:30am

CAMPAIGN: ON Semiconductor Foundation


With the increasing prevalence of wildfires affecting natural ecosystems, ensuring post-fire restoration is more important than ever. Long-term recovery of fire-damaged lands is difficult to achieve naturally, but with the help of dedicated and organized efforts, the trees, vegetation and wildlife habitats once lost can be revived to their natural state.

Recognizing this need, the ON Semiconductor Foundation provided a grant to Natural Restorations’ Lower Salt River Restoration Project in the fall of 2020. This provided funds to plant 11,926 native trees within the Cactus Fire Burn scar located in Arizona’s Lower Salt River to help recover the biodiversity of native plant species. The various species of trees planted included cottonwood, mesquite, Goodding's willow and Coyote willow. Each play important ecological roles in the ecosystem and together help to provide diverse benefits to the surrounding wildlife.

In addition to clearing the Cactus Fire Burn scar site for tree planting, the project team worked on removing invasive species such as stinknet (also known as globe chamomile), due to it being a competitor to native vegetation through its ability to overrun a landscape. Its removal allowed for a greater chance of recolonization by the newly planted native trees.

The initiative provided 360 hours of paid contract work to military veterans, who benefited from employment in addition to spending time in nature with other veterans. Upon accomplishing this project, those involved felt rewarded by helping to replenish a fire scar area and supporting an impact on the ecosystem that will be environmentally beneficial for decades to come.

Justin Ballard, U.S. Air Force Veteran, expressed:

“Being able to help replant an area that I have enjoyed visiting was great and I want my kids to grow up and enjoy these same areas. The work was tough, but it made me stretch work and myself harder to ensure that we stayed on track to meet our goals in time. I was able to learn new skills related to planting trees and best methods to allow for sustained growth. I am excited to see how our work will flourish and keep the area growing for years to come.”

Collaborations with Northern Arizona University, National Forest Foundation, Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, and the Tonto National Forest assisted with this project’s success. In addition to this wide network of partnerships, Natural Restorations also strives to increase public awareness for responsible recreation through their website, social media and expos across the state.

By supporting organizations working to maintain the health and longevity of natural environments, the ON Semiconductor Foundation aligns with Sustainable Development Goals 13: Climate Action and 15: Life on Land. Initiatives like the Lower Salt River Restoration Project play a vital role in reversing land degradation and fighting against biodiversity loss while contributing to the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem. We are grateful to support Natural Restorations in their mission to keep natural areas clean and open to the public for everyone to enjoy.

To learn more about how ON Semiconductor positively impacts communities and the environment, visit:

CATEGORY: Environment