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Forest Service seeks ideas for Arizona Trail upkeep

Workshop to be held Monday in Rita Ranch

The U.S. Forest Service is calling all problem-solvers, hikers, and trail enthusiasts to workshops to discuss the upkeep of the Arizona Trail.

The path stretches from the Arizona-Mexico border to the southern edge of Utah. The 817-mile trail was first imagined by outdoor enthusiast Dale Shewalter in the 1970s, according to the Arizona Trail Association's website. It was finally completed in early 2012.

Now the Forest Service must develop a comprehensive trail-maintenance plan and is seeking community input.

Public workshops will be held Monday through Thursday. The most accessible meeting for Pima County residents will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Desert Sky Middle School, 9850 E. Rankin Loop.

“In times of shrinking budgets, the Forest Service is looking for creative ways to sustain trails and is turning to partners for help in finding solutions to trail maintenance challenges. “ said Laura White, an Arizona National Scenic Trail administrator.

Volunteers, Youth Corp groups, and the Forest Service currently tend the trails in remote, rugged terrain far from water. A week of maintenance from a contracted group can cost up to $6,000 White said.

The Arizona Trail Association is creating a website dedicated to the management plan that will provide updates and a forum for comments and suggestions.

“In other words, we want to hear from you,” White said.

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The Arizona Trail is one of five National Scenic Trails in the country.

Congress awarded the title to the Arizona Trail in 2009 after a “tremendous grass-roots effort” by the Arizona Trail Association, said White. The Arizona Trail Association is a membership based organization that supports the path.

National Scenic Trails are deemed to be historical, cultural and natural, and promote conservation of an area according to the Bureau of Land Management website.

For more information, contact Laura White at 388-8328 or by email at laurawhite@fs.fed.us.

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Arizona Trail Association

The Arizona Trail spans 817 miles from the Mexican border to the Utah border.

If you go

  • What: Forest Service Arizona Trail maintenance workshop
  • Where: Desert Sky Middle School, 9850 E. Rankin Loop
  • When: Monday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Other workshops

  • Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Superior High School, 100 W. Mary Dr., Superior
  • Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Payson Library, 328 N. McLane Rd., Payson
  • Thursday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Radisson Woodlands Hotel, 1175 West Route 66, Flagstaff