FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

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Oregon_Hiker
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FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Oregon_Hiker » Mar 28 2015 1:18 pm

Grasshopper and I met a Fish & Game officer on FR 203 on March 24. He was doing a survey of dispersed camping sites for the Tonto National Forest. According to him, much of this road will be closed as part of the Tonto National Forest "Travel Management Plan" because some sections of it travel through the Sierra Ancha Wilderness against wilderness regulations. The only way to keep it open will be to have congress change the wilderness boundary. Estimated availability of the final "analysis" document is July 2015. I have not seen an estimated schedule for when the new travel rules will be put in to effect. The current top contender alternative motor vehicle use map under consideration and posted on the Tonto Nat. Forest web site does not show FR 203 being closed. I will be calling the Tonto Nat. Forest district offices (Tonto Basin or Pleasant Valley) when they open this week to check the validity of what we were told by the F&G guy and post what I find out on this forum.

A quick check of the SA boundary shown in the FS Topo on Mapdex indicates that FR 203 first dips in to the SA Wilderness at Devil's Chasm traveling north. Traveling south from HW 288 at Board Tree Saddle it first dips into the SA Wilderness just past PB Ranch. Between these two points the road dips in and out of the wilderness at several locations.

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RedRoxx44
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by RedRoxx44 » Mar 28 2015 2:45 pm

But how will the pot farmers get to those crops???

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Tough_Boots
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Tough_Boots » Mar 28 2015 3:01 pm

RedRoxx44 wrote:But how will the pot farmers get to those crops???
cooking meth is just so much more convenient. ;)
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chumley
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by chumley » Mar 28 2015 3:04 pm

It doesn't really make sense... Wasn't the border of the wilderness area established to be adjacent to the existing road? That's normally how those things work. That road was certainly there long before the wilderness designation.
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Jim_H
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Jim_H » Mar 28 2015 5:27 pm

Sounds like a mystery is afoot.
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Oregon_Hiker
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Oregon_Hiker » Mar 28 2015 6:22 pm

@chumley The Sierra Ancha Wilderness was set aside as a "primitive area" in 1933 and then became a wilderness in 1964. The section of FR 203 from the Ellison Ranch north to HW288 was built in the early 1950s with funding provided by the Atomic Energy Commission for uranium prospecting in the upper Cherry Creek Canyon. According to the F&G officer we talked to, there was an error or misunderstanding as to where the actual boundary was located when the road was put in. I suspect the cold war motives to find uranium and a pro-mining atmosphere in AZ led to a disregard of any boundary concerns.

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MtnBart01
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by MtnBart01 » Mar 28 2015 8:49 pm

Definitely cut down on some the sites being "loved to death" as rwstorm put it in his recent visit to Rogers canyon ruins.
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friendofThundergod
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by friendofThundergod » Mar 29 2015 9:09 am

@Oregon Hiker
I actually have no problem with closing the road, keeps the tourists out and makes area more conducive to backpacking. I am already envisioning a Cherry Creek Road trans-Ancha hike, north to south :) I have no problem working a little to see the sites. I would propose closing road at final creek crossing near ranch.

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CannondaleKid
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by CannondaleKid » Mar 29 2015 8:56 pm

Oregon Hiker wrote:A quick check of the SA boundary shown in the FS Topo on Mapdex indicates that FR 203 first dips in to the SA Wilderness at Devil's Chasm traveling north.
Look closer... while FR230 bumps against the wilderness border at the Devils Chasm 'corner' on FR203, it does not actually cross the border.
Oregon Hiker wrote: Traveling south from HW 288 at Board Tree Saddle it first dips into the SA Wilderness just past PB Ranch. Between these two points the road dips in and out of the wilderness at several locations.
Yes, toward the north end there are a number of incursions.
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Oregon_Hiker
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Oregon_Hiker » Mar 29 2015 10:08 pm

CannondaleKid wrote:Look closer... while FR230 bumps against the wilderness border at the Devils Chasm 'corner' on FR203, it does not actually cross the border.
Yes, the maps in HAZ Mapdex show FR203 just bumping against the wilderness boundary but the 1986 and 2004 USGS Sombrero Peak Quad map shows FR203 dipping into the wilderness at Devils Chasm. There definitely is a mystery afoot.

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big_load
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by big_load » Mar 29 2015 10:19 pm

If FR203 were closed, I'd look more seriously for paths down from above. However, I like FOTG's notion of a trans-Ancha trek. I'd definitely go for something like that if the road were pedestrian-only.

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DarthStiller
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by DarthStiller » Mar 30 2015 6:50 am

My neighbor knows a guy who works for the Forest Service and he was telling me about this last weekend. He did also mention, however, that other departments like Game and Fish would have an objection to it because of how they give out hunting licenses for certain areas, managing the hunts, etc. And then it's state entity vs. federal to some degree I suppose. He seemed to get the impression that it's not a done deal yet, but definitely moving in that direction.

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Oregon_Hiker
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by Oregon_Hiker » Mar 30 2015 10:21 am

Darth Stiller wrote: He seemed to get the impression that it's not a done deal yet, but definitely moving in that direction.
That is consistent with what the Game & Fish guy, Tim Holt, told us on Mar 24.

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oceanwithin
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by oceanwithin » Mar 30 2015 7:49 pm

I asked someone I know who is involved with the Tonto FS and has been researching this issue in an effort to keep the road open to shed some light on the mystery:

In the early 1950’s, the Sierra Ancha area between Cherry Creek and Hwy 288 was classified as a Wildlands Area.
The area is home to about half a dozen asbestos mines, and about half a dozen uranium mines. Most of them are close to either Hwy 288 or Cherry Creek. In the late 1950s, the Nuclear Energy Commission (federal Government) moved Cherry Creek Rd from the bottom of the canyon to the current alignment. They made it big and wide and gentle grades so the ore trucks could haul uranium out to the processing plant that was 7 miles east of Globe.

About 1964 was when Congress declared the vast majority of all Wilderness Areas in the western U S. By this time only about half of the mines were still operating. The original Wildland Area was reduced from the original 45000 acres to the current 30000 acre Sierra Ancha Wilderness. Oddly enough, by Congressional decry, ALL wilderness areas have to be ROADLESS, and more than 50000 acres.

In 1984, Congress declared a few more of the wilderness areas, but I don’t remember which ones are the newer ones. This declaration also enlarged the boundaries of several of them, including the Superstitions. Since our government is good at moving slow, a lot of the boundaries were not posted/signed for many years. I know the current road alignment has the Wilderness Area border meandering back and forth across it. I am currently searching for maps of the original Wildland borders and also the original Wilderness alignment to see what/where everything used to be. Since the newer roadbed wanders back and forth to follow the natural contours of the land to make it easy to haul ore, I am guessing/betting that whoever drew the current Wilderness borderline was just too lazy to find a map with an accurate indication of the road, so they just kind of split the difference and drew a big gentle curve on the new map to show that the border and the road were more less in the same place. I do not think that anyone would intentionally cris-cross the road and the border. It makes no sense at all. I have been trying to find congressional documentation that spells out the border of the Wilderness from either the original Wildland designation, the 1964 proclamation, or the 1984 version. No luck so far.

Several groups have been pressuring the National Forest to close Cherry Creek Road ever since they noticed the issue yeas ago. To help keep it open, I would be contacting the Tonto National Forest Supervisor’s Office in downtown Phoenix to let them know that lots of folks want that road to stay open. I would also be in contact with all of Arizona’s congressmen, as the Wilderness Act is a Congressional Act. I do have a local source for the original USGS Topo maps, circa 1964, for that area, but I have not been able to look at them yet. Hope to do that in the next week or two.


Will post any updates I get as well. :)

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whereveriroam
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by whereveriroam » Mar 30 2015 8:17 pm

Great research oceanwithin! :app:

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mazatzal
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by mazatzal » Mar 30 2015 9:51 pm

Close it! The ruins will benefit :M2C:

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chumley
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by chumley » Mar 30 2015 11:23 pm

I was actually going to go to the map library at ASU today to research some of the old maps on file there. Unfortunately, due to a flooding event the building where the map collection is held is closed until August. (No maps were damaged in the flooding). So that resource is currently unavailable.

Now I don't know what I'll do for the next few months when I need to take a break from work and walk across campus...
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azhiker96
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Re: FR 203 Cherry Creek Road Possible Permanent Closure

Post by azhiker96 » Apr 20 2015 2:49 pm

Went to Devil's Chasm last Saturday. The road was in remarkably good shape. I had no problem picking my way through the rough spots in a stock Honda CRV. The creek crossing had been redone since the last time I was there a few years ago and looked easily fordable for my vehicle.
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