Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Day Hiking & general trail related

Moderator: HAZ - Moderators

Linked Area  • San Francisco Peak Trails, AZ
Post Reply
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 7551
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by chumley »

Coconino National Forest is working on a new trail system in the Flagstaff area to address increased use. New trails are planned, some will be specific to various uses: equestrian, hiking, and mountain biking. (No mention of eBikes!? :stp: )

One notable thing looking at the proposed map is that there will be two new trails built that access the Elden Summit, along with improvements to the existing summit trail. The plan has not been finalized and is open for public comment.
Comments (in writing) are due by September 28, 2020.

Full Details:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino ... RDB5439778

Map of proposed changes:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/n ... 343433.pdf
What the Forest Service is proposing:
• Adding up to 55 miles of new system trails
• Modification, improvement and construction of 6 trailheads
• Guidelines for consistent management of recreation trail events
• Improvements to signs, education, interpretation, and trails
• Decommissioning at least 7 miles of unauthorized trails
Championing breakfast since 1994.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

I see a Flagstaff Pass coming.

New Trails up Mt Elden? My first reaction is why? But after inspecting the map, it would have been cool if such a system existed when I moved there 14 years ago. Loops on Elden, up and down variety, the usual.

Also, it appears that some of the worst and steepest sections of trail for the existing #4 will be reconstructed, which is good.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
ShatteredArm
Posts: 58
Joined: Nov 30 2015 2:07 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by ShatteredArm »

It looks like they're getting rid of more than they're adding. Not sure what they have against Private Reserve, that's one of my favorite trails on Elden...
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 7551
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by chumley »

@ShatteredArm I'm sure they'd like to hear from you:
The plan has not been finalized and is open for public comment.
Comments (in writing) are due by September 28, 2020.

Full Details:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino ... RDB5439778
Championing breakfast since 1994.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@ShatteredArm
Where is it on Elden?
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
ShatteredArm
Posts: 58
Joined: Nov 30 2015 2:07 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by ShatteredArm »

@Jim_H
It's the trail that goes straight up the NW side of Mount Elden. It's steep and in the shade. Starts off of Oldham a little ways up from Brookbank.
User avatar
joebartels
Posts: 7112
Joined: Nov 20 1996 12:00 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by joebartels »

- joe
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@ShatteredArm
Seems worth keeping. At least there might be other new trails.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
ShatteredArm
Posts: 58
Joined: Nov 30 2015 2:07 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by ShatteredArm »

@Jim_H
As much as I liked it, I'm sure the reason they want to get rid of it is that it goes straight up the mountain with no switchbacks, and as such would be subject to erosion.
no avatar
velvetmesquite
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 06 2018 10:30 pm
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by velvetmesquite »

@ShatteredArm
the reason is that Private Reserve is being eliminated is due to threatened Mexican Spotted Owl habitat. It runs right through a Protected Activity Center.

If you notice, there are other trails labelled as "single direction mountain biking" that are steep with no switchbacks. They are allowing a number of those.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@velvetmesquite
Oh. Well, I don't think they thinned that slope, either, so I guess it can burn up totally and nicely in the next big hot fire. So, no more owls then, and the trail can open back up. Single species management is rarely conducive to success or very practical.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
velvetmesquite
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 06 2018 10:30 pm
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by velvetmesquite »

@Jim_H
I was just telling you why they want to remove the trail. I wasn't commenting on the merits of it.

But if you want to go there... Look around and notice that the unthinned mixed conifer burned nicely in the Museum Fire. Small trees burned, leaving higher canopy intact, and the understory is returning nicely. So you never know how a forest will respond to fire until it happens.

Ideally they would manage for all the species that call the MEDL footprint home, and I have had several conversations with USFS about that. Unfortunately, because MSO is the only threatened species in the area, it is the only one they will plan around. Single species management. I agree with you, it seems inadequate.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@velvetmesquite
I wasn't directing it hostily at you, either. I, too, was commenting as well. It depends on where you go for how the mixed conifer burned in the Museum. Unthinned upper slopes near the Sunset trail burned through the crown. Being untouched and dense, if a fire heads up that north slope of Elden under similarly dry, hot, windy conditions, it will be the same.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
ShatteredArm
Posts: 58
Joined: Nov 30 2015 2:07 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by ShatteredArm »

@velvetmesquite
I'm curious on the MSO reasoning... If that were the case, wouldn't they have closed it long ago? It has been on the mountain bike maps for years...
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 7551
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by chumley »

@ShatteredArm
There's probably a newly known nesting pair they want to protect. (Which of course would prove that these animals are adaptable and perfectly capable of survival even if somebody rides a bike past them. But I digress.)
Championing breakfast since 1994.
no avatar
velvetmesquite
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 06 2018 10:30 pm
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by velvetmesquite »

@Jim_H
thank you for clarifying 😊 People get aggressive over their favorite trails so sometimes it's hard to read their emotions.
I encourage you to go and look closely at that area around Upper Sunset. You'll see where the fire enters the untreated dense mixed conifer but it then drops to the ground right away, even when adjacent to extreme high severity burns. I have a ton of photos but I don't think I can attached them here? Regardless, I'm not saying that I treated forests always burn in a healthy manner but it turns out to be what happened here.

And @shatteredarm, this project is an attempt to create a sanctioned/"official" trail system where previously there was none. The Forest Service has pretty much stayed away from enforcing illegal trail building until now, so people have used Private Reserve and other trails that went through owl habitat even though they were built without any planning. The difference now is that several other sites have burned so there is less available habitat overall. I believe there is an explanation in the proposed action, but if not I recommend contacting the Forest Service to ask about it if that trail is important to you.

And again, don't shoot the messenger! I just happen to know about this project, but I'm not saying what's good or bad, just conveying what I know.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@velvetmesquite
[ photoset ]

I did, back in May. And then also last month or maybe July I went from Mount Elden over to the Heart and inspected some of the upper sunset slope.

The results were not good whether it was never touched or it was thinned and the slash remained on the ground. If the fire was windblown in those dry conditions and blew up slope pretty much it was stand replacing, or nearly so.

That slope which is untreated and unburned has the saving grace of being on a north aspect, but after more than a hundred years of growth without any kind of silvacultural treatment, fuel loads remain unnaturally high and when another fire erupts it'll just burn right up that slope if the winds are favorable. Wind usually does not blow to the south in Arizona during High fire danger periods, but it is upslope. Had the dry lake hills Mount Elden Mountain complex been able to experience it's formerly frequent low-to-moderate intensity fires as had occurred before sheep, logging, and fire suppression, that slope may have been fairly dense for mixed conifer but when fires came through it would have burned up slope even if not through the crown. Similar north aspect areas along the brookbank trail had high accumulations of white fir both dead and standing and nearly dead well over a decade ago. That is really a relic of humans after 1850.

Some of that area was where they had created line and then conducted back burn and that did not burn with the same intensity as an upslope fire.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
velvetmesquite
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 06 2018 10:30 pm
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by velvetmesquite »

@Jim_H
I guess I'm not seeing what you're looking at. I see treated areas with no live trees left and untreated areas with live trees left. That's what I've been noticing on my inspections of the area.
Like I said, I'm not claiming that all untreated areas will burn healthy, because that's not true, but in this case a lot of the untreated mixed conifer burned healthy or didn't burn, even when very dense and adjacent to high intensity burns. It could have been because of the slash left on the ground in the treated areas, or because of the opened forest allowing the air to move through and stoke the fire (there are examples of treated areas in the White Mountains where that happened), or a combination of both, but for whatever reason, it happened. Who knows. I just hope the Forest Service puts together a lessons learned document, because there are lessons to learn.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5044
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Rancho Relaxo

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by Jim_H »

@velvetmesquite What lesson are you thinking? About the only thing I can think of is shutting down logging once conditions are dry enough.
Reaching new standards in excelence.
no avatar
velvetmesquite
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 06 2018 10:30 pm
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Re: Flagstaff Mt Elden / Dry Lake Hills Recreation Planning

Post by velvetmesquite »

@Jim_H
Well I'm not the Forest Service, but I would hope this would influence best practices so it doesn't happen again. For example, the Bill Williams project, which is very similar, is using around the clock monitoring after any sparks are observed. They could also ensure a buyer exists before log decks are stacked. Better slash management? And some research into whether the amount of cover left behind influences forest behavior.
And your idea of not logging during extreme fire weather is good.
I'm not a silviculturist... hard to say.
Post Reply

Return to “Trail Chat”