The Forest Lakes area is one of the busiest recreation spots on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests with nearby ATV trails popular off-highway routes. The trails accommodate hundreds of off-highway enthusiasts every year, but the area outside these trails and other numbered roads are closed to off-highway vehicles, the Forest Service announced last week.
Over time, well meaning recreationists have blazed new trails in the closure area that have invited others to follow, creating a maze of unwanted trails. These unwanted social trails have had a detrimental impact on the forest’s natural and cultural resources and have caused unsightly scars on the landscape. The social trails also cause compaction and erosion of the soil and destruction of vegetation as well as root damage to trees and shrubs that effectively alter the natural beauty of the area.
To help restore the health and beauty of the area, the Black Mesa Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, has begun a rehabilitation project along the Forest Lakes ATV trail system. This is a long-term project aimed at improving the ATV trails and returning the area to its natural beauty. Crews will be working to remove fallen logs, install better signage, and to block off, obliterate, and rehabilitate all unauthorized trails in the closure area. Two new informational kiosks will also be installed in the area to offer ATV rider information and area trail maps.
The success of this project is dependent on the cooperation and support of users of the trail system. The staff of the Black Mesa Ranger District is encouraging the development of an Off Highway Vehicle User’s Group.
The group would work cooperatively with the Forest Service to help maintain existing trails, provide input and assistance to improve these trails, and propose new trails. This will give local and frequent users a voice for the maintenance and development of new trails in the future. It is our vision to eventually extend and improve the OHV trail system on the Black Mesa Ranger District to a system of OHV trails that will stretch from one end of the district to the other.
Contact Recreation Staff Officer, Meckenzie Helmandollar, at the Black Mesa Ranger District for more information, (928) 535-7300.