Frances Short Pond

Tom Bean Pond Photo.jpg
Photo courtesy of Tom Bean. This photo cannot be used without his permission.
Frances Short Pond Improvement Project and
Long-Term Maintenance Plan

This project is intended to resolve the short term maintenance issue and develop a long term operations and maintenance plan for Frances Short Pond. Currently the pond has vegetation levels well above the design specifications. This problem has negatively impacted the water quality as well as habitat, recreational use and outdoor classroom benefits.

The project goals are to return the pond to a healthy state similar to the condition after the 2005 restoration project. Additionally an operations and maintenance plan will be developed and implemented to ensure the condition of Frances Short pond is maintained on a regular basis.

Team Members and Direct Stakeholders:

City of Flagstaff: Public Work, Utilities and Management Services
Agencies: Arizona Game and Fish and Flagstaff Unified School District

Here is a great comment posted recently on the Arizona Game & Fish Blog:

"I just wanted to give the City of Flagstaff and the Arizona Game and Fish kudos for the improvements made at Francis Short Pond. I stopped by today for the first time since the “weed removal” project. I have to say WOW!!!

It looks amazing. Tons of new shore space for anglers (there were multiple times in the past I had to turn around and go home due to no room to drop a line). The pond is also full of water from the recent rains. I was unable to fish today but saw a couple guys catching bluegills one after another. I can’t wait until it is stocked this fall for trout.

As an angler of this pond for over six years now I am excited to see what the future holds. Thanks again for making this a great local fishing hole."

— Daniel L.
Link to blog post

The fish re-stocking will take place once the sediment has settled and the oxygen levels are acceptable.
We will start hauling the removed vegetation and sediment once it has had a chance to sufficiently
de-water. This much needed material will be going to another City of Flagstaff project adjacent to the
Rio de Flag near our Fire Training Center.

The Frances Short Pond
and surrounding area will be this year’s
Make A Difference Day project
October 24, 2015

Project Manager: David McKee, (928)213-2474,

Frances Short Pond underwent a grant funded restoration project that was completed in 2005. The photos below show the increase in vegetation over time
Pond in 2007
Pond in 2007
Pond in 2013
Pond in 2013
Maintenance / Treatment Narrative: (Image below)
1. Areas outlined in red labeled A. will have vegetation removed while maintaining edges along embankment
This will be accomplished with rented track hoe equipment
2. Areas outlined in blue labeled B. will have the subsurface vegetation removed

Treatment Plan

About Frances Short Pond

The Frances Short Pond on the Rio de Flag was named for late educator and city councilperson Frances Short. But many long time residents know it simply as the “duck pond” because there are almost always some resident ducks paddling around in it. It’s a popular local fishing hole and good habitat for water-loving birds. It’s easily accessible to much of downtown Flagstaff and the San Francisco Peaks form a scenic backdrop.

The Pond may have started out as a water storage 'tank' for Sante Fe Railroad steam trains. But in the 1920's a low dam was built just upstream to catch the Rio’s flood waters and make a swimming and skating area. Over time, sediments washing down the Rio filled it in, along with street sweepings dumped in by the city. By the late 1960's, there was talk of filling it in completely and making a parking lot. But activists pitched in to rejuvenate the pond. In the 1970's Flagstaff school teacher Jim David, his students and many others from the community helped dredge out the sediments and used them to create the crescent-shaped island in the middle of the pond improve aesthetics, increase wildlife habitats, and provide for outdoor classroom activities. They also planted shrubs - junipers, willows, narrowleaf cottonwoods, and Russian olives, which have matured around the pond.

After 18 years of little or no maintenance, the pond was restored in 2005 with funding from the Arizona Department of Game & Fish under the Heritage Fund program.
To help protect the pond from chemical-laden storm runoff and sediment accumulation, the city has built a sediment clean out area and a small spillway just upstream. There’s also a bioremediation rain garden — a small wetland with plants that help “pretreat” some of the contaminants in runoff from the ballfields and the nearby dog park. A solar-powered aeration system helps keep the pond oxygenated in summer, and some of the shallower parts ice-free during the winter.

Though it’s close to downtown, the pond attracts wildlife throughout the year. Shallow-water plants like cattails and bulrushes provide food, cover, spawning, and nesting habitat for fish, birds, and small mammals.

Pond Photo
If you would like to share your pond photos, memories, historic documents, artwork, etc.
please email or call David McKee:
(928) 213-2474