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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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5/3/2013 10:00:00 PM
TRAILBLAZERS: Group aims to reduce illegal paths, conflicts
Joanna Dodder/Courier Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance members help re-vegetate and hide an illegal trail on the Prescott National Forest a few years ago near Thumb Butte.
Joanna Dodder/Courier
Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance members help re-vegetate and hide an illegal trail on the Prescott National Forest a few years ago near Thumb Butte.
Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - A new effort kicks off Monday to bring various trail users together and create a long-term vision for a Prescott-area trail system.

The kick-off workshop takes place at 6 p.m. at the Adult Center of Prescott, 1280 E. Rosser St. The next workshop takes place on June 17.

Prescott National Forest officials hope the collaborative effort will help meet the needs of all kinds of trail users. That would help reduce conflicts and hopefully stop an increasing problem with illegal trails, said Jason Williams, trails and wilderness manager on the forest.

"People want more trails and more opportunities," Williams said. "A good system of trails will help. One of the underwriting themes for the Forest Service is... we want to see the illegal trail building stop."

One illegal trail in the Thumb Butte area destroyed a rare rock wall created by prehistoric Prescott Culture Indians. It likely was a hunting blind.

The Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance helped close and re-vegetate that trail.

A group of volunteers called the Community Forest Trust's Stewardship Forum is organizing Monday's workshop, with the help of local trails groups and local land managers including the Prescott National Forest, Yavapai County, City of Prescott and Town of Prescott Valley.

Hiking, bicycle, equestrian and off-highway vehicle groups all are involved in the Greater Prescott Trails Planning effort.

"We're looking at an ideal system 50 years out," said Jack Herring, chair of the Community Forest Trust.

Trail users, adjacent landowners and others are invited to come over Monday, look at maps and offer suggestions for ideal loops and connector trails.

"It's going to be fun," Herring said. "They'll actually get to be creative."

For a map of the planning area and other information, go online to greaterprescotttrails.net. The planning area generally runs north to Chino Valley, east to Prescott Valley, south to Goodwin and west to Tonto Road.

Examples of future trail connectors include connecting the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail to Prescott, or extending the Peavine Trail in Prescott north to Chino Valley.

A steering committee featuring all types of trail users already has created some draft map ideas.

Organizers hope to prioritize trail needs this summer, and then start implementing initial projects.

"There's been so much conflict, mostly between bikers and equestrians," Herring said. "They haven't gotten very far in trying to resolve issues."

So Herring hopes this new process will help.

"We've created a really solid basis for collaboration," he said.

Conflict between local trail users peaked a few years ago when an equestrian fell off a horse spooked by a bicyclist.

No one has reported any serious trail collisions to Prescott Forest officials during the past year or so, Williams said.

The Forest Service has erected trail signs warning people to be careful where conflicts have occurred. The agency and volunteers have redesigned parts of some trails where blind curves caused problems, too.

And the Prescott Trails Safety Coalition has created a website where people can now report trail conflicts.

Go online to ptsc-2011.blogspot.com and click on "My Outdoor Experience."


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 04, 2013
Article comment by: Edward Abbey

There are a lot of good "social" trails that should be adopted. No mention of that however. They give the "undocumented" trail builders a hard time but what the FS allowed to happen in the Butte area with the masticating machines was a travesty, all the young pine, oak and pinon were wiped out by these machines.

Posted: Saturday, May 04, 2013
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

Wouldn't it be far more appropriate and politically correct if we started calling "illegal trails" undocumented trails?



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