Did you know that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows individuals to donate up to $300 to nonprofit organizations and taxpayers will be able to claim the deduction next year without having to itemize? This is a direct response to COVID-19’s devastating economic impacts to nonprofit organizations nationwide. At the Arizona Trail Association, we are anticipating at least a 35% drop in revenue this year, which will have significant impacts to trail operations, volunteer program, youth outreach and education, staff, and really everything we do. Please support the Arizona Trail by making a donation to the ATA today. You can donate online here, or mail a check to our office: 738 N. 5th Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85705. With your help we will be able to sustain the Arizona Trail as a unique encounter with the land – today, tomorrow and into the future. DONATE AZT Remains Open
Despite recent closures to parks, trailheads, campgrounds and other developed recreation sites throughout Arizona, the Arizona National Scenic Trail remains open and welcomes you to hike, run or ride as a means to stay healthy during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Arizona Governor’s recent Executive Order to Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected provides guidance for limiting time away from home but encourages “engaging in outdoor exercise activities such as walking, hiking, running, biking or golfing, but only if appropriate physical distancing practices are used.” The Arizona Trail Association is proud that our efforts to build, maintain and protect the AZT over the past 26 years have provided a scenic refuge for you to use during this stressful time. In an effort to maximize safety, we encourage you to follow these guidelines:
If you are feeling ill or exhibiting any symptoms, stay home!
Only travel to trailheads and trail access points that are within close proximity to home, not requiring stopping to refuel or other services that would require close interaction with others.
Don’t touch anything at trailheads, including register box, signs, benches, etc.
Maintain six feet between yourself and other trail users.
Pack out all of your trash, and don’t pick up others’ trash.
Know your limits – now is not the time to rely on emergency medical services.
Please consider sharing your Arizona Trail experiences with others through social media. We can all work together to stay healthy and connected, and inspiring photos can really brighten someone’s day. Keep up-to-date with closures and Arizona Trail information as it relates to COVID-19 online here. Grand Canyon National Park Closed
On April 1, 2020, Grand Canyon National Park received a letter from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the full closure of Grand Canyon National Park. Upon receiving this request from the local health department, acting Superintendent Mary Risser, with the support of the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice. “The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will continue to follow the guidance of state and local health officials in making determinations about our operations,” Secretary Bernhardt said. “As soon as we received the letter from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the closure of Grand Canyon National Park, we closed the park.” Arizona Trail Thru-Hikers and Riders will need to abandon their adventure prior to reaching Grand Canyon National Park, and are encouraged to utilize a variety of ground transportation options within the City of Flagstaff to return home, including Amtrak, Greyhound, rental car agencies, and shuttle services. Daily flights from Flagstaff to Phoenix and Denver are available through Flagstaff’s Airport just south of town. To learn more, visit the Grand Canyon National Park News Releases web page. Temporal Gulch Passage Reroute Approved
Over the past decade, the ATA has been working to find a safer, more scenic alternative to the trail’s current alignment near the town of Patagonia, which includes 3 miles of paved roads and 12 miles of dirt roads. The segment between Harshaw Road Trailhead and Walker Basin Trailhead is among the most disliked of the entire Arizona Trail. This is in stark contrast to the gateway community of Patagonia, which is one of the most beloved trail towns and a majority of thru-hikers report they’re likely to visit again. Due to lack of public land surrounding Patagonia it has been difficult to secure easements allowing the AZT to cross private property, especially when there are numerous private landowners. So the trail remained on Harshaw Road (paved) and Temporal Canyon Road (dirt), which wasn’t ideal but wasn’t all that bad either. That changed when increased mining activity south of Patagonia transformed a quiet rural road into an industrial route. Up to 50 large trucks travel along Harshaw Road each day, carrying chemicals, explosives, and other hazardous materials to support mining operations. The importance of moving the AZT off Harshaw Road has never been more important for the safety of long-distance trail users (who have to walk or ride along Harshaw Road for three miles) and day trippers driving to and from the trailhead. A potential route was discovered near Big Casa Blanca Canyon that would only cross two parcels of private land, owned by Wildlife Corridors and Hudbay Minerals. Once approval was secured, the ATA began working with the Coronado National Forest and other agencies to take the necessary steps to approve the trail project, including comprehensive biological and cultural surveys. After years of hard work and determination, the Arizona Trail Association received approval to proceed with the Temporal Gulch Passage Reroute Project last week. Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry signed the Decision Memo authorizing trail construction, with concurrence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the trail project is not likely to adversely impact threatened and endangered species. The project includes 32 miles of new trail construction, connecting existing AZT near Red Rock Ranch Road (AZT mile 44.5) with Gardner Canyon (AZT mile 71.1). In addition to scenic, sustainable singletrack through beautiful biomes in the Canelo Hills and Santa Rita Mountains, this project also includes a connector trail from Temporal Gulch Trailhead to the new AZT. The entire project lies outside designated wilderness, allowing mountain bikers to enjoy the new trail. Volunteers will be needed to help with trail construction after the COVID-19 crisis has subsided, and donors are being sought to help fund professional trail construction in the more remote areas. With ample community support, we hope to finish the last mile of trail construction before 2025. Download a map of the project here, and stay tuned for volunteer opportunities by becoming a fan of Passages 3 and 4 through our Volunteer Website to help us build the next great piece of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. Thanks to everyone who has helped transform the Temporal Gulch Passage Reroute from concept to reality, including the Town of Patagonia, Mountain Empire Trail Alliance, Coronado National Forest, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Game & Fish Department, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlife Corridors, Hudbay Minerals, Red Rock Ranch, South32, Arizona Trail Association stewards, volunteers, staff and supporters, and members of the Arizona State Legislature. U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Approve Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act
On March 30, the House of Representatives voted to advance the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act with a 236-185 vote. The bill sets a permanent moratorium on new uranium mining claims on just over 1 million acres of federally protected public lands to the north and south of Grand Canyon National Park. “We wouldn’t be here without a truly historic level of dedication by people across the country, and I want to thank all the tribes, outdoor advocates, businesspeople, sportsmen and sportswomen, and everyday Americans who have poured their heart and soul into this fight,” said Raúl Grijalva, Congressman for Arizona’s 3rd District and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “Some issues are powerful and popular enough to blast right through the usual Senate deadlock, and protecting the Grand Canyon is one of them.” The vote comes ahead of the United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s deadline to provide recommendations to the President on boosting the U.S. nuclear industry. Mining executives are heavily pressuring the group to recommend opening public lands to new uranium mining, which could include areas protected by the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act. In a recent letter to President Trump, executives from Energy Fuels Resources and Ur-Energy urged the President to establish a strategic uranium reserve, potentially by utilizing the Defense Production Act. Click here to read the letter. “The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act must be passed into law because this region is not now, nor will it ever be the right place to mine uranium,” said Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director, Grand Canyon Trust. “While Americans are still holding the bag from the last time the government prioritized uranium mining, research has underscored the erratic nature of groundwater flow in this region, and government records have shown just how little the region holds of known recoverable domestic uranium. Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon amounts to little more than an unnecessary gamble of a sacred landscape, a worldwide wonder, and a primary driver of the Northern Arizona economy.” The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act now makes its way to the Senate, and Arizona residents encouraged to reach out to Senators Sinema and McSally to encourage their support of signing the bill into law. If your Representative voted in support of the bill (Gallego, Grijalva, Kirkpatrick, O’Halleran, Stanton) please reach out to them with thanks. If they voted in opposition (Biggs, Gosar, Lesko, Schweikert), tell them how you feel. Engaging with our elected officials is an important part of protecting public lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, important water sources like the Colorado River, and the livelihood of Arizona's indigenous people.