On Friday, September 6 the Tonto National Forest lifted the Woodbury Fire closure order that has been in place since the fire consumed 123,000 acres of National Forest land and 30 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) earlier this summer. The AZT is now open between Rogers Trough Trailhead and Roosevelt Lake, however extreme caution should be exercised within any area recently impacted by wildfire.
Unstable soils, falling trees and lack of signs to assist with navigation are all considerations, however the greatest risk is flash flooding. Vegetation burned in the fire can’t slow water naturally, and high-intensity burns often cause hydrophobic soils that slough off when wet. Flash floods during monsoon season are always a consideration in Arizona, but are especially serious within burned areas. The ATA discourages anyone using the AZT within the Woodbury Fire area until an on-the-ground trail assessment is conducted, and crews can address priority stabilization and maintenance needs.
To view photographs of the Arizona Trail within the Woodbury Fire, check out the Interactive Map online developed by the ATA’s GIS Director.
Specific questions about access and safety should be directed to the Tonto National Forest: (602) 225-5200.
Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Mason
One goal of the Volunteer Spotlight series is to highlight the various ways you can be involved with the ATA and the AZT. Many volunteers make their contribution in ways not immediately apparent to the trail user, yet without these efforts the trail might not exist at all.
Members of the ATA Board of Directors work behind the scenes and off the dirt path to ensure that the organization is fulfilling our mission. For volunteers like Rob Mason, watching the organization and the trail succeed – and knowing that he played a big part in that success – is a unique and special kind of reward.
Rob feels fortunate to have served on the Board during a time when the ATA was reevaluating its purpose and revising its mission. The completion of the trail in 2012 was a tremendous milestone, but what would become of the organization whose driving purpose to that point had been to build the trail? Helping to craft that new mission has been a highlight of his involvement with the Arizona Trail. He also served as Board President through much of the Strategic Planning process and he is proud that his work will help shape the future of the trail.
Like so many volunteers, Rob’s involvement started with a desire to get outside and get dirty. “I was preparing for retirement and saw an advertisement for a work event on the Arizona Trail. I was just going to go play in the dirt and see how it played out,” he said.
When he arrived to help trail construction on the Las Colinas Passage in 2010, he met Lee Allen and Mark Flint – both of whom are famous for spotting great volunteer potential. He also met Zach MacDonald who was doing trail work with his baby in a carrier on his back. It was just what he was looking for, and he kept coming back.
The best part of retirement, Rob says, is that he doesn’t have to do things he doesn’t enjoy. Instead, he keeps his hands in the dirt on the trail as well as in his own orchard and gardens in New River. He often camps and hikes on the Arizona Trail when he’s not seeking out secret fly fishing holes. Someone with such an active and positive life wouldn’t be sitting in Board meetings if they were boring or awful; serving is something he gets genuine pleasure from.
“I want people to know how satisfying it is to watch the organization grow knowing that you were a part of shaping that growth,” Rob said.
If you’d like to learn more about getting involved with the ATA, visit our Volunteer Website. Those interested in serving on the Board of Directors can send a letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans Trail Work Weekend
Join fellow military veterans in caring for the Arizona National Scenic Trail during a volunteer work weekend in the Kaibab National Forest on the South Rim of Grand Canyon on October 4-6. Camp out among the pine trees, learn stewardship skills, and help improve this remote and beautiful segment of trail. This project is held within a very significant ecological and cultural location, and you’ll learn more about wildlife corridors, conservation history of Grand Canyon, and some of the threats currently facing this part of the world.
There is no cost to participate, and all meals are provided. Pre-registration is required online. All ages and abilities are welcome, but keep in mind that most trail work activities involve many miles of hiking.
Registration for this opportunity is limited to 16 veterans, so sign-up today and/or share this opportunity with vets who may be interested. Please note that this opportunity is open to veterans only. It is a time for veterans to gather together as a community, share past experiences, and build new experiences working together on the Arizona Trail.
Portion of Blue Ridge Passage To Be Closed for Prescribed Burn
The Coconino National Forest recently announced that the northern portion of the Blue Ridge Passage #27 will be temporarily closed for public safety while the forest conducts a prescribed burn. If proper burning conditions present themselves, the Forest intends to burn approximately 12,000 acres starting September 30, 2019. This will impact the AZT between East Clear Creek (AZT mile 490) and Blue Ridge Trailhead (AZT mile 496.6).
Since there is no viable detour around this area, southbound thru-hikers and riders who encounter this prescribed burn will need to skip Passage 27 entirely between Highway 87 and Forest Road 300. Unfortunately, the only route to do that is Highway 87 to Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) near the town of Strawberry. AZT travelers are discouraged from hiking or riding along Highway 87. Purists wanting to experience every inch of the trail that is legally open and safe will need to travel north on the AZT from Forest Road 300 to East Clear Creek (8.7 miles), then backtrack and continue southbound.
In addition to 6.6 miles of the AZT being closed for the prescribed burn, Rock Crossing and Blue Ridge Campgrounds will also be closed.
For more information, please contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at (928) 477-2255.
Celebrate National Public Lands Day on September 28
National Public Lands Day is coming up on Saturday, September 28 and organizations nationwide are hosting meaningful volunteer events to get American citizens involved in the stewardship of our public lands. The Arizona Trail Association is hosting two trail work events in Flagstaff and Tucson with support from REI Co-op. Please join us!!!
Northern Arizona Come join some great people for some good times as we team up with REI Co-op and the Coconino National Forest to finish the 5-year-long project of re-routing section 31A of the AZT! We’ll start the morning with a safety talk, grabbing our tools, loading up with water and snacks (provided by REI) and hiking one mile to the work site. Once there, we’ll be working to rough in the final few hundred yards of trail and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. At 11 a.m. we’ll hike back to our vehicles where a lunch buffet and raffle of REI Co-op gear and stewardship T-shirts will be waiting as a reward for your volunteerism. Register online here.
Southern Arizona Head into the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson to help with some much-needed trail maintenance along the Temporal Gulch Passage. We will meet at 8 a.m. at the Apache Spring Trailhead off Gardner Canyon Road. Expect to hike between 2 to 3 miles over the course of the day, carrying tools over rough terrain. There’s many different tasks to undertake, which means there’s something for every level of fitness and experience. Lunch is provided, as well as stewardship swag from REI Co-op. This is the perfect chance to learn more about what makes trail work such a rewarding volunteer experience! Register online here.