On Sunday, July 21 the Museum Fire erupted on the Coconino National Forest just north of the City of Flagstaff. The human-caused blaze quickly grew from 5 to 1,900 acres and has been almost entirely extinguished by monsoon rains. The Arizona Trail is currently closed along Passage 32 (Elden Mountain) from Little Elden Spring Trailhead (AZT mile 587.4) and the Weatherford Trailhead, also known as Schultz Pass Trailhead, (AZT mile 590.4). Please use FR420 (Schultz Pass Road) instead.
The Arizona Trail is also closed along Passage 33 (Flagstaff Urban Route) from Buffalo Park (AZT mile 7.3) to the intersection of Passage 32. Please follow the Flagstaff Urban Trail System from Route 66 to Schultz Creek Trailhead, then follow the signed detour along FR420 and the Chimney Trail to the Moto/Chimney Trail junction (AZT mile 594.4).
You can see a map of the August 6 closure area here. Details have also been uploaded to the Guthook smarthone app to help trail users navigate closures and detours.
Archiving the History of the Arizona Trail
The Arizona Trail Association is partnering with the Special Collections Department at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library to archive historic documents and materials that relate to the Arizona Trail. What better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Arizona Trail Association than undertaking a project that will preserve the history of the organization and the trail?
If you have important pieces of AZT or ATA history, please consider adding them to the archive. The Cline Library is not interested in physical objects, but would rather have digital versions. The ATA has set up a Dropbox account which can be used by any member to store photos and digital documents. If you have anything to contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description and we will send you an invitation to access the Dropbox account.
In addition, Darwin on the trail is in the process of producing a comprehensive AZT documentary. Darwin will be attending Arizona Trail Day – Flagstaff on September 14 and will be interviewing individuals who have been involved in the development of the trail and the ATA. Arizona Trail Day - Flagstaff is also a great place to share your Arizona Trail artifacts, and special tables will be designated for this mini Trail Museum.
A $5,000 seed grant from the US Forest Service is supporting the Cline Library in their work to document and preserve archival materials. Additional support from ATA members is requested, and can be made securely online or by mailing a check. Please help us preserve the legacy of the Arizona Trail for future generations.
Rosemont Re-route Project Update
On June 21, the ATA announced that the Las Colinas Passage of the Arizona Trail would be undergoing a significant transformation due to 11 miles of new trail construction to avoid impacts of the Rosemont Copper Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson. At that time, the mine had been approved by the US Forest Service and received its final federal permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers. However, a lawsuit initiated by Tribal governments and numerous conservation organizations sought to block the mine’s development. On July 31, U.S. District Judge James Soto overturned the Forest Service’s approval of the mine and its final environmental impact statement (released in 2013). Soto ruled that Hudbay Minerals can’t put its mine tailings on Forest Service land even though it has mining claims on it because it has failed to prove the claims are valid.
The decision has been appealed by Hudbay Minerals to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and could eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.
The Arizona Trail re-route and trailhead construction have been put on hold since the US Forest Service’s Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement – the documents authorizing construction of the trail – have been determined by Judge Soto to be flawed and in conflict with existing federal laws. The Arizona Trail between Oak Tree Canyon and Lakes Road remains unobstructed and unchanged for now.
To learn more, read this recent article in the Arizona Daily Star. You can also read the entirety of the Judge’s ruling here.
New AZT Hat Celebrates the Sonoran Desert
Our friends at Crown Trails Headwear have produced these functional and fashionable new hats for your adventures on the trail and around town. Made of durable and comfortable material, we are proud to carry this trucker-style hat featuring an AZT Sonoran Desert scene complete with saguaros and ocotillo and a natural color version of the AZT logo with a curved bill. 100% poly material.
Order yours today for $25 from the Online Store (ATA members login to get a discount) or from your favorite local outdoor retail outlet.
Happy Jack Singletrack Progress Report
The ATA continues to make excellent progress with the Happy Jack Singletrack Project, which will transform Passage 28 from its former alignment along Forest Service roads into sublime trail through the ponderosa pine forest south of Mormon Lake. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, conservation corps members, equipment operators and our partners at the Coconino National Forest, only a few miles remain of this 18-mile trail construction endeavor!
Recently, ATA volunteers affectionately known as The Usual Suspects spent a few days installing six steel gates along the freshly-built trail. They also installed wooden signs directing trail users toward water sources, and metal trail signs to assist with navigation. Thanks to funding from the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA) steel rollover options will soon be added to some of the gates along the route.
We have a Volunteer Vacation scheduled for October 22-27, and hope to finish the final Shuffs Tank segment around that time. Please consider joining us for this historic event! Then, plan to hike, run or ride this beautiful, sustainable new portion of the Arizona National Scenic Trail this year.
Tremendous gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the Happy Jack Singletrack Project thus far with a donation of dollars and/or volunteer labor. We couldn’t have made it this far without you.