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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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1/19/2013 10:02:00 PM
Prescott Circle Trail construction could be under way by summer
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierTrail construction volunteers watch as Tony Beere puts in a signpost for the Circle Trail in the Prescott National Forest Oct. 13, 2011.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Trail construction volunteers watch as Tony Beere puts in a signpost for the Circle Trail in the Prescott National Forest Oct. 13, 2011.
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - The details continue to fall into place in the City of Prescott's effort to fill the gaps in the 50-mile Prescott Circle Trail.

Eric Smith, the special projects administrator for the Prescott Parks and Recreation Department, reported this past week that two of the necessary tasks - a plant survey, and an archaeological survey - are now well under way on the 6.6-mile stretch of trail easement that the city is seeking across Arizona State Trust Land.

In addition, Smith said, the city has learned that the International Mountain Biking Association's recent application for an Arizona State Parks' Recreational Trail Program grant for the project was successful.

The grant will provide $99,000 in Recreational Trail Program money for the construction of the trail.

Smith's update came during a quarterly meeting of the Prescott Parks and Recreation Board meeting Thursday afternoon.

"The project we're engaged in right now would fill the last remaining gaps in the Prescott Circle Trail," Smith told the board members.

If all of the steps continue to proceed as planned, Smith said trail construction could be under way by this summer.

In late August 2012, the Prescott City Council approved spending as much as $120,000 from its open space fund to cover the cost of the State Trust Land easements and the related work.

The 6.6 miles includes two sections of trail - one that would run from the Turley Trail in Government Canyon to the city's Peavine Trail near Watson Lake; and another section that would run from the Pioneer Parkway area to Trail 347 near Williamson Valley Road.

Smith explained that the State Land Department required the plant and archaeological surveys to take place in preparation for the trail construction work that the city plans.

The plant survey includes an inventory of every plant species that is located along the corridor. Smith said a local botanist has been working to catalog the species.

The archaeological survey is intended to identify areas that contain prehistoric artifacts.

"(The archaeologist) already did find a few sites," Smith said. "Thankfully, we have the ability to move the trail (to skirt the archaeological remains)."

Parks and Recreation Director Joe Baynes said the archaeological sites include a scattering of artifacts.

Baynes said the Recreational Trail Program money would speed up the trail-contraction process. "It helps a whole bunch," he said of the grant. "We'll be able to contract it out, and we can get it done much faster."

Otherwise, the city would have had to rely on a combination of volunteer, community service, and city labor.

While the International Mountain Biking Association will administer the grant and will take the lead on the contract, Baynes said the city and its volunteers also would be involved.

The proposed leases with the State Land Department will be for a combination of 10-year and 50-year terms.

Ruben Ojeda of the Arizona State Land Department told the council in August that the 10-year leases would pertain to areas that have high development potential, while the 50-year leases would cover less-developable land.

The State Land Department manages its land to reach the highest use, Ojeda said, and to optimize economic return for its trust beneficiaries - the largest of which is public education.

The existing Circle Trail includes about 11.3 miles within Prescott limits, while the remainder runs across U.S. Forest Service land, Bureau of Land Management land, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University land.

The effort for a trail system that encircles Prescott has been under way for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s, the fledgling Yavapai Trails Association came up with the idea.

When complete, the trail will link many of Prescott's most picturesque areas, including Thumb Butte, Granite Dells, Granite Mountain, and Quartz Mountain.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Educated Prescottonian

If you go onto the City of Prescott website (Parks and Rec pages) - there are maps and guides for the circle trail. Isn't it worth looking before you start complaining.....

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: ziglviet b schtoonk


my thoughts exactly

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: another arizonan

Congratulations to all involved in this great accomplishment. And kudos and a big thanks to all the volunteers who have spent so much of their own time and energy to provide the rest of us with so many wonderful trails which make up this system.

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: Jim Edmiston

This trail was a great place on which to spend the open space money. The city council is to be congratulated .The trail will bring more tourism money to Prescott and benefit local hikers as well.

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

How about a map of the entire trail, so people will know where to find it and where to access.

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