The Verde Valley boasts an abundance of trail enthusiasts — a fact the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District hopes to use to its advantage as it prepares to begin a volunteer trail maintenance crew in Camp Verde.
“Initially, the efforts will focus on trail maintenance, but as we move forward with a very comprehensive trails analysis this year the opportunities for construction activities are likely to increase,” Thomas A. Palmer, East Zone Recreation Program Manager for the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District, said, adding that he hopes to attract a diverse group of trails enthusiasts.
According to Tony Papa, Forest Trails Coordinator for the Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District and lead contact for the effort, many trails on National Forest land are established and maintained by volunteers.
“The National Forest has had a successful volunteer trail crew called ‘Over the Hill Gang’ in Prescott since the 1990s and [we’re] looking to establish similar efforts in the Verde Valley,” Papa said. “If you are interested in giving back to your community and public lands consider joining us on Wednesdays to help build and maintain our local trail system.”
Though the start-up group’s first meeting occurs Wednesday, March 1, Palmer said that by Feb. 21 he and Papa had yet to attract any interest.
“We have been trying to raise awareness about offering a volunteer trails day in the Verde Valley but we don’t seem to be getting any responses,” Palmer said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of public involvement and volunteerism, particularly in the trails arena. As we embark on the Verde Trails and Access Plan this year, public input and support will be a necessity in long term sustainability and success.”
According to Palmer, the VTAP will address the needs identified in the 2009-10 public scoping effort and data gathered from the last half-decade of trails planning efforts throughout the Verde Valley region of the Prescott National Forest. Palmer hopes to distribute a public scoping letter by the end of March, making it available for community review and comment.
By spring 2018, Palmer stated that he should have an analysis of the data completed, giving rangers a more comprehensive view of what trails to develop.
“That being said, establishing a formal outlet for volunteers to become involved and aware of existing and new trail opportunities will be vital ... a great first step to moving forward.” Palmer added. “[We] look forward to continue working with community partners, user groups and volunteers to provide a sustainable network of trails and opportunities that effectively connect communities to their public lands.”
Anyone who is interested in taking part is asked to meet up with Papa by 8 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Verde Ranger Station, 300 E. SR 260, Camp Verde. Volunteers can expect to be out for three to four hours and should come prepared. “All volunteers must be equipped with long sleeve shirt, long pants, sturdy work boots and eye protection,” Papa said. “Tools, hard hats and leather gloves are provided.”
For more information, contact Tony Papa at email@example.com or (928) 777-2216.