Tonto NF re-routing trails in Payson area

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Tonto NF re-routing trails in Payson area

Post by chumley »

First up:
Highline Trail
AZT – White Rock Mesa Passage 25
AZT – Sunflower Passage 22
Strawberry Trail
Red Rock Spring Trail
Tonto National Forest collaborative partnership set to improve trails below Mogollon Rim

Release Date: Sep 22, 2021

Tonto National Forest officials announce plans to improve and re-route trails on the Payson and Mesa Ranger Districts through collaborative partnerships.

Payson District Ranger Matt Paciorek signed a decision memo for a plan that would re-route portions of the Highline National Recreation Trail (Highline Trail) along with portions of the Arizona National Scenic Trail and trails in the communities of Pine and Strawberry to locations that would make them more sustainable.

The Tonto worked with the Rim Country Trails Working Group to identify and develop plans and prioritize trails to improve the environmental condition and user safety on trails system surrounding the Town of Payson, Pine and Strawberry.

Forest Service officials and the working group identified the Highline Trail, Arizona National Scenic Trail – White Rock Mesa Passage 25 (White Rock Mesa Trail), Arizona National Scenic Trail – Sunflower Passage 22, Strawberry Trail, and Red Rock Spring Trail as priority trails for improvement projects.

“The decision memo I signed to move forward with this initiative represents so much more to me; a huge amount of work, challenges, working together, and in the end, this is a testament to the great partners we have,” Paciorek said. “I am looking forward to implementing this project on the ground, continuing our work with our partners and talking about next steps for the improvement of these and other trail systems.”

Re-routing sections would move these trails to a more sustainable location and provide a higher quality, non-motorized trail experience for all user groups and future generations. Projects will be designed to prevent erosion, improve watershed health and water quality, increase user safety, and reduce maintenance of these forest system trails.

The working group included a host of partners, members from surrounding communities and specialized forest user groups which included Gila County, Arizona Trail Association, Pine Strawberry Fuels Reduction Inc., National Forest Foundation (NFF), Wild Arizona, Friends of the Tonto and Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona.

According to Rebecca Davidson, NFF Southwest Region director, the foundation is thrilled to work collaboratively with partners and the Forest Service to support these improvements and facilitate implementation of the trail re-routes, maintenance, and the rehabilitation of portions of the old trail system that will now be closed.

“As part of the NFF’s Northern Arizona Forest Fund, the Highline National Recreation Trail is a priority project that supports watershed function in the Salt River system, minimizes sedimentation, improves water quality and sustainability, and protects this iconic trail and the outdoor experience for every explorer and visitor,” Davidson said.

Brian Stultz, Wild Arizona deputy director, added that his agency is proud to be joining the Tonto and partner agencies to restore the Highline Trail.

“Our mission is to protect, unite, and restore wild lands and waters across Arizona and beyond, for the enrichment and health of all generations, and to ensure Arizona’s native plants and animals a lasting home in wild nature,” Stultz said. “We're looking forward to using a collaborative approach to bring these values to a trail with such historical and recreational significance.”

Trail improvements and re-routes will comply with the Tonto’s Land and Resource Management Plan of managing recreation resources and increasing opportunities for developed and dispersed experiences through the repair, reconstruction and maintenance of five sections of trails.

For additional information concerning this decision, contact Angie Abel, Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Hwy 260, Payson, Arizona 85541, phone (928) 474-7900. ... M5OfiGKbB8
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