The Cinch Hook snow recreation area 10 miles north of Pine on Highway 260 will remain open this winter.
"We aren't going to manage Cinch Hook on the weekends like we did in the past," Jean Gilbertson, fire information officer for Mogollon Ridge Ranger District said.
What this also means is the Forest Service will not plow the 65- to 80-vehicle capacity parking area.
"That could change depending on weather conditions," Gilbertson said.
The problem is money.
"Short funded. It's the story of our lives," she said.
Gilbertson did not have a dollar figure for stationing rangers at Cinch Hook on Saturdays and Sundays, but said in the past, it has been pay for two rangers, usually on overtime. They drive from Blue Ridge Ranger Station, 17 miles away.
The Forest Service pursued Recreation Resource Management as a concessionaire at the site, with a percentage of sales coming back to the district, but Gilbertson said they showed no interest.
Presently, motorists seeking fun in the snow will have to drive in and out of Cinch Hook over whatever snow is on the ground at a given time.
Use common sense
The potential of people thinking, ‘the snow isn't so deep, I can get my vehicle out,' will probably make for some stuck vehicles needing a tow.
Arizona Department of Transportation does not take responsibility for whoever plowed part of the driveway into Cinch Hook, as well as a few forest road driveways further north on Highway 260 where motorists might pull over and park to play in the snow Dec. 12.
"I think it was Santa's elves that did it," Bill Williams, public information officer for ADOT's Prescott District said.
"We stick to state routes, highways and interstates. It is rare for us to go off the highways at all.
"If we get a request from the Forest Service we will help them out," he added.
"Whoever goes (to Cinch Hook) to recreate is on their own, although we did install port-a-potties and a dumpster for trash," Gilbertson said.
Potential Cinch Hook concessionaires who wish more information can contact Mindy Roth at the Forest Service's Mogollon Rim District. The number is (928) 477-2255.