News From District Ranger Kevin Warner
(July 11, 2015)
It has been quite a while since I last sent out an update to the community about happenings related to the Cave Creek Canyon Sustainable Recreation efforts that were initially kicked off in response to the flooding last September. I apologize for the long span of time in-between updates and the correspondingly long e-mail update here, we have had a busy spring/summer here on the Ranger District with a great youth based watershed project in the southern end of the Chiricahuas, two good sized fires in the Peloncillos, plus a bunch of other great activities. It is good to be busy!
Now, I will outline a few of the developments since last time that I sent out an update and I hope that it will not be so long until the next one. Please pay special attention to the last bullet as it talks about future planning efforts.
· Sunny Flat, Stewart, and Rustler Park Campgrounds were re-opened March 27. Sunny Flat and Stewart saw good public use for a few months and now have dropped off for the hotter summer months. With the monsoons upon us we will be monitoring the weather forecasts closely and may need to temporarily close Sunny Flat and Stewart throughout the rainy season to better ensure a safe public recreation experience.
· The South Fork Road has remained closed to vehicular travel since September. Like many recreation based issues I have been receiving unsolicited reports from users of the area, some love the peace and quiet of the walk along the road (and of course the birds that they see), and others are frustrated with the extra walk that is now required to get further up into the South Fork drainage. I am taking them all into consideration as we work to come up with a long-term solution.
· The road repairs in the canyon as well as other areas in the Chiricahuas are currently still on schedule to begin in early to mid-September and last for 3-4 months. At times this will require up to 30 minute delays on the main road, but the contractor will try to keep them to a minimum. Later in the project the main road over Onion saddle and the road to Rustler Park will be totally closed to traffic for an unspecified amount of time, but most likely it will take 1-3 weeks. This will be timed to have the least impact to residents, tourists, recreationists, and hunters and at the same time we recognize that it is an inconvenience.
· The team of individuals that agreed to work on volunteer coordination met on April 4th and put together a collaborative plan with both the Forest Service and the community working together to attract more volunteers for the Visitor Center and as camp hosts. Since putting this plan into action we have been able to staff the Visitor Center seven days a week for much of the time and we have had only a short lapse in camp hosts. We have been receiving many more volunteer inquiries than we have in the past, so please continue to encourage others to put in their application at the volunteer.gov website https://www.volunteer.gov/ Thanks to everyone that has helped in this effort, and special thanks to all the volunteers that have chosen to spend their personal time volunteering for the betterment of public land management!
· The South Fork Trailhead has become more of a challenge than originally imagined. On March 31st we conducted a field trip to discuss different options for relocating the trailhead. The options included two locations just upstream of the recreation residence cabins, one location at the junction with the main road (current location of the road gate), and one location in-between. While there was not 100% group consensus it was generally agreed that the location in-between appeared to be the most sustainable long-term and had good potential to provide appropriate public service/access. There were some assumptions that went along with the in-between option, including a trail paralleling the road that would be friendly to those with disabilities, some road work being completed for access to the cabins, and the same trailhead amenities would constructed in the future. Unfortunately the Federal Highways Administration (entity funding the road repairs) later determined that they could not assist the Forest Service with construction of the trailhead at the preferred location. The current plan is to have the Federal Highways Administration reconstruct the South Fork Road to a point just upstream of the recreation residence cabins and create a small vehicular turnaround, but not a trailhead. This action will be completed as part of the overall road reconstruction contract beginning in September, and after the turnaround is completed I will then determine if the turnaround is adequate to allow vehicles to that point in the short-term. We will be addressing the issue of the South Fork trailhead relocation in the larger discussion around recreation in Cave Creek Canyon that is the focus of the last bullet in this long line of updates.
· In mid-April the community came out in force to help maintain and reconstruct the Nature Trail. Thanks to all the hard work put in by many volunteers that day the Nature Trail is again in good shape. THANKS!
· As you should recall, getting the campgrounds open to the public is only a short-term fix until we can create a long-term solution to providing the public a safe camping experience in the Cave Creek Canyon Recreation Area. It is now time to embark on the long-term recreation planning effort that was discussed in the public meeting back in February. This planning effort will include discussions around developed camping, developed day use, the South Fork trailhead and other potential recreational opportunities in the Cave Creek Recreation Area. I have a list of approximately 15 individuals who indicated that they would be willing to participate as part of a team in this planning effort and I will be reaching out to those individuals shortly to confirm that they are still interested. This effort will most likely include meetings on a monthly basis for a while and potentially some research work to be done outside of the meetings. At certain intervals along the process the long-term recreation planning team will provide information to the rest of the interested public that is not directly involved as part of the team. If there is anyone who was not at the February public meeting that believes that they would like to be part of this long-term recreation planning team, please contact me via e-mail or phone call by July 20 so that I can get you included.
I know that I did not mention some other great projects going on in the area that were not specifically tied to the Sustainable Recreation Efforts, but please let me express my sincere appreciation to the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon and the Sierra Club for a couple of volunteer projects that have taken place recently involving young people from Tucson. Thanks to everyone.
Trail and Spring Update
Zac Ribbing and a volunteer trail crew did a great deal of clearing of some of the upper trails during the week beginning September 19th. The Crest is clear from Rustler to Sentinel. A lot of good work was done on Upper Bootlegger, Crest 270b (Chiricahua saddle to Junction saddle), 270d (Chiricahua saddle to Aspen saddle), and Fly peak is clear on both sides to the peak. 270b still needs some work but they managed to get some of the biggest problem trees cleared.
If you know of a section of trail that needs work, particularly if it's a recent development, Zac would like to hear from you with the details. Zac's contact information is:
Coronado N.F. Border Zone Trails Foreman
office (520) 378-0311(no voice mail)
Cell (520) 559-1000
All springs encountered have been flowing great this year. Expect to find normal to above normal flows at the springs in the mountains as we come into the fall.
Many trails have been getting long needed maintenance this year and should continue improving throughout 2011. Work has been, and will continue to be focused in the Chiricahuas. The following will cover work accomplished, and projected areas of work into the spring of 2011. Most of the work to come will be funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contracted through various conservation corps*, as well as from our dedicated volunteers.
#228 Raspberry Ridge – Lower end of trail was cleared last fall and upper end should be cleared in early September 2010. Work done with CREC* funded by State grant and ARRA, entire 4.6 miles when complete.
#243 South Fork – About the first 4 miles of this trail is in great shape due to many local volunteers, and fire crews in the area during the Horseshoe fire. The trail should see more work in the future with local volunteers (Portal area and Sierra Club).
#246 Snowshed – Lower end maintained by ACE* funded by State grants. Upper end, above Pine park, maintained by CREC funded by ARRA. The upper end of the trail still needs lots of work. It is now cleared of down trees and brush so one can at least find the trail much easier compared to recent years. More work will be aimed at maintaining this trail to complete the entire 10 miles of trail.
#247 Booger spring trail – This short trail (0.2 miles) was cleared with help from local volunteers and the Sierra Club in June.
#248 Greenhouse – This trail was maintained by CREC up to the “Cima Barn” funded by ARRA (4.0 miles). In addition the trail from the “barn” to the Crest trail junction was maintained by the Sierra Club.
#252 Jhus – This 1.1 mile trail was cleared by local volunteers in May/June.
#257 Bootlegger – The upper 0.7 miles of this trail was cleared from the junction of the Crest to the junction of the Rock Creek trail by local volunteers in June.
#270 Crest – The trail was cleared with help from local volunteers and Sierra club. The section of trail from Rustler to Aspen saddle (just past Chiricahua Peak) was maintained in June totaling 6.5 miles. More work is planned to get the trail cleared out to Monte Vista in September with ARRA funding a CREC crew. Also local volunteers may be able to clear out some of the trail past Aspen saddle in mid September.
#270a Chiricahua Peak – this 0.7 mile trail was maintained with the Sierra Club in June.
#275 Rattlesnake – This 4 mile trail was maintained with lots of help from a wide mix of local volunteers over the past year. Many volunteers came from the Tucson area and Portal area to make this possible.
#277 Middlemarch – This 2.3 mile trail located in the Dragoon range was brushed and cleared out by ACE in the early part of the year funded by a grant from the State.
#279 Cochise – This 5 mile trail in the Dragoons was maintained by ACE in the spring. Due to time constraints they could not get to all the maintenance needs from the “divide” to the end of the trail on the west side of the range. This would account for 1.5 miles of trail that still needs maintenance. Past work was funded by a grant from the State. At this time no work is planned on the last 1.5 miles of this trail.
#280 Silver Peak – maintained by CREC in the spring this 4.6 mile trail still needs work to the upper end of the trail and to sections in the middle to improve the out slope of the tread. Funding for this was provide by ARRA and will most likely see more work in 2011 using ARRA.
#333 Bear Wallow spring trail – This 1.0 mile trail was maintained with help from local volunteers and Sierra Club in June.
#334 Centella – This 1.9 mile trail was maintained with help from local volunteers and Sierra Club in June.
#337 Fly Peak – The first 0.7 miles of this trail has been maintained from the “Fly Peak junction” on the Crest trail. Sierra Club and local volunteers helped maintain this trail in June. More work may be accomplished in mid September with help from volunteers to get this completed.
Other plans for Chiricahua trails in 2010-2011:**
- NYC to work on trails in the Pine Canyon area and Witch Ridge area in 2011.
- Sign repairs with help from local pack stock to haul materials into the back country.
- Display map for office and Portal visitor center with color coded trail conditions that can easily be understood and updated. This map will not be for public purchase, its purpose will be for providing locals, fellow employees, volunteers and public with the most current information possible at a glance.
All of the springs encountered have been doing well this year. The big news this year is Sprung and Bellow spring are running well again.
Many of the main trails got cleared this spring to clear the mess of down trees from the heavy snow and high winds we had over the winter. The big news in trails here is the completion of the Arizona Trail from Oak tree canyon to the northern Forest boundary line in the Santa Ritas. Also this year the Arizona trail was officially designated as a National Recreation Trail.
#67 Gardner Canyon – Lower end of trail from trail head to Walker Basin trail junction was cleared by fire crews this spring accessing the Walker fire.
#77 Vault Mine trail- was cleared by CREC funded by a combination of State grants and ARRA.
#88 Madera Nature – Local volunteers in the Green Valley Hiking club cleaned portions of this trail in the spring.
#134 Super – This trail was cleared by CREC, funded by a combination of State grants and ARRA.
#136 Walker Basin – Trail was maintained by fire crews this spring after the Walker fire.
#140 Agua Caliente – This trail was cleared from Josephine saddle to Vault mine by CREC, funded by a combination of State grants and ARRA.
#144 Crest – Trail cleared by CREC, funded by a combination of State grants and ARRA.
#145 Florida – Lower end of trail was maintained by Wilmont State Fire crew. They also helped install the new gate on the fence line close to the Florida Work Center.
#149 Cave Canyon – Trail cleared by Wilmont State Fire crew.
#372 Old Baldy – Trail cleared by CREC, funded by a combination of State grants and ARRA.
# Carrie Nation Mine trail – Cleared by volunteers from the Green Valley Hiking club in early spring.
Other Plans for 2010-2011:**
- Wilmont State Fire crew to work on Gardner, Florida and others as needed.
- ARRA funds to work on Florida, Sawmill and upper reaches of Gardner.
Sierra Vista District:
All springs and seeps encountered this year have been doing well. Expect to find normal to above normal flows at the springs and seeps this fall.
Several of the trails have been receiving maintenance work this year on the east side of the Huachuca range. Expect to see more trail maintenance this fall as well as a large trash clean up effort in the Miller Peak Wilderness.
#102 Reef Townsite loop – This trail was brushed and cleaned by Scout Troop 444 this month. In the near future we would like to add some more signage to clarify some of the trail locations as well as fix existing signage.
#104 Lutz Canyon – Trail was maintained by CREC funded by ARRA early in the year. The crew was able to make good improvements to the trail above the old mine equipment site a couple miles up the trail. This trail still needs some work to the very upper reaches of the trail where it junctions with the Crest trail. This leaves less than a mile of trail work to go to complete this trail. This could be completed with a crew in October, however this would be the last task on there already full list of trails to maintain.
#106 Miller Canyon – Trail was maintained by CREC funded by ARRA early in the year. The crew was able to clear up the canyon about 2.5 miles or so. There is still a hand full of down trees in the last mile to Bathtub spring, however for hiker this should not be a problem. Another crew planned for October may be able to finish this trail.
#110 Ida Canyon – Trail was maintained by CREC, funded by ARRA early in the year. The crew maintained the trail from the Wilderness boundary to Bear spring. This leaves a short section of about a half mile from Bear spring to the junction of the Crest trail that was not worked. However this trail should be in fair shape, although there may be some down trees making it difficult for horses to navigate.
#111 Hunter Canyon – This 1.1 mile trail was maintained from Miller canyon to Hunter canyon by CREC, funded by ARRA. The crew was able to make some good improvements to the trail as well as repairing and replacing all needed signs.
#112 Oversite Canyon – This 2.5 mile trail was maintained about a mile and a half up from the end of the road. Work was accomplished by CREC, funded by ARRA. This trail is still in need of a lot of work in the upper reaches of the trail to junction with the Crest trail. It is not recommended to use this trail if you are not familiar with the area as there are many user made spur trails in the upper reaches of the trail. More maintenance will come, but most likely not until fall of 2011.
#122 Hamburg – Trail was cleared of downfall early in the year up to the junction with Pat Scott Canyon and Wisconsin Canyon.
#123 Pat Scott Canyon – Trail was cleared from the junction of Wisconsin up about a mile. This trail still has maintenance needs to clear it up to the junction of the Crest trail. Hikers would be okay to hike the trail but horses would have a difficult time navigating the trail. Horse riders would be better off using the trail up Wisconsin Canyon as it was in much better condition as of this spring.
#124 Clark Spring – This 1.6 mile trail was cleared by ACE and CREC, funded by a combination of ARRA and state grant funding. Also some brushing was accomplished by a local scout as an Eagle scout project. This work all took place in the late fall and early spring.
#125 Arizona trail (Scotia Canyon/East of Canelo Segment) – A short reroute of the trail near the road crossing of Scotia Canyon by the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) made this area of the trail much easier to hike. The work was done with volunteers from the ATA members in the local area. This reroute moved the trail off of a large hill that was heavily eroded due to road water run off and put it on a much nicer line on an old road bed in Scotia canyon. With the addition of new signs one should have no question where the trail is now.
#126 Old Sawmill Spring – This 0.7 mile trail was maintained by Scout Troop 444 in the spring.
Plans for Fall and 2011:**
- Heavy trash clean up project in the Miller Peak Wilderness
- Trail maintenance to Crest, Pat Scott, Miller Canyon, and Carr Peak trail.
- Extend Perimeter Trail from Carr Canyon to Ramsey Canyon. This short segment has many hurdles to cover as it passes over not just Forest Service land but State land and Nature Conservancy property. All parties must have proper clearances as well as addressed concerns of private landowners who still have property within the boundary of the Nature Conservancy.
- Trail maintenance to Guindani trail in the Whetstones.
*CREC = Coconino Rural Environment Corps
*ACE = American Conservation Experience
*SCC = Southwest Conservation Corps
*NYC = Northwest Youth Corps
** Please note- this is not a complete list of upcoming work plans, this is merely a list of projects in the near future that have the most realistic plans to compete at this given time.
Information provided by Zac Ribbing (Trails/Wilderness)