ATV club members, business owners and concerned residents gathered with Forest Service officials at the P/S Community Center Tuesday, Dec. 4, to discuss the re-opening of Forest Road 708 for access to Fossil Creek.
The Forest Service closed the road in 2011 for “treacherous and unsafe road conditions.”
A fire department spokesman at the meeting stated, “The road posed a calculated risk to the fire department and search and rescue’s ability to respond to emergencies.”
Another public safety factor was increased popularity of the site and blatant disregard for park regulations.
Members of the Rim Country Riders ATV Club, who spearheaded the meeting, are a responsible group of riders who care about the community and forest and are pro-active in finding solutions for responsible access to Fossil Creek.
The popular spot attracts thousands of visitors each year who enjoy amazing landscapes, waterfalls, outdoor activities and the amenities of P/S. The closure of access to the site from Strawberry came as a blow to local nature enthusiasts and has had a profound and incalculable economic impact on the local economy. The empty hotel rooms and restaurant booths — once thriving on the weekends — have left business owners struggling.
The officials addressed concerns put forth by the group. Payson District Ranger Angie Elam acknowledged, “There is no simple solution to the problems faced by both residents and forest officials.”
Cindy Maack, Rim Country Riders Club and owner of Pine’s Ponderosa Market, is convinced that solutions they have put forth will solve the economic, safety, and gridlock surrounding the matter. When the Tonto Natural Bridge faced closure by the state, the community rose to the occasion and is a model of what can happen when agencies and towns work together. “It can happen here,” Maack said.
The 130-member Riders group has put together a plan utilizing grants, gates, public education, ATVs, team leaders and committed volunteers to restore safe access to Fossil Creek from Strawberry.
“Our community is absolutely willing to pull together and do anything to get the trail open,” said Tamara Morken of THAT Brewery and Pub.
Joyce Bittner of the Fossil Creek Creamery agreed saying, “We have the enthusiasm here in P/S to do something substantial.”
Members of the community have worked diligently and presented their ideas and expressed their willingness to make it work. All feel there is an urgency to get moving to ease the economic impact to the community.
Heather Provencio, Red Rock District Ranger of the Coconino National Forest, emphasized, “We cannot dismiss our standards. We are obligated as an agency for the public safety on roads we must maintain.”
Another member of the audience said he felt that the agencies are “getting carried away” with the engineering aspects of the road. He pointed out that the road has always been there and can be cared for, but will never be perfectly well-maintained, but it can be used and is a tremendous asset to the community.
Elam ended on an encouraging note saying, “If you can provide cohesive volunteer commitment long-term, we would be happy to work with you.”
All that remains to be said is ... let’s get moving!
Karolyn’s Holiday Wish Event
The family of longtime Strawberry resident, Karolyn MacLean, are paying tribute to her with a wonderful charity event in her honor. Karolyn always had a passion to help kids at the holidays and did so by supporting many local charity events. Karolyn is no longer here, but her generous heart will long be remembered through Karolyn’s Holiday Wish Event.
Her family will sponsor the first event this Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Flying Grizzly Bar (located next to the Windmill Corner Inn in Strawberry) starting at 3 p.m. They invite you to drop by, bring a toy or canned good and be entered in a drawing for many great prizes. There will be a dinner buffet free to everyone who brings a donation.
Karolyn’s husband Jim, son Doug, daughter Debbie and daughter Cindy are excited to hold the event that gives back to the children as she did. All proceeds of toys, canned goods and money will be donated to the Pine/Strawberry Food Bank.
This is a great opportunity to visit with friends and have fun while giving back to the community in honor of a special lady. Please bring toys or canned goods and help make Karolyn’s wish a reality.
Free Christmas Dinner
Christmas is not always a happy time for those with loss or health, financial and job worries. Family and friends live far away and can’t be together. Dave and Terry Burkhart know how a warm meal and the company of others can help. That is why they founded the free community Christmas dinner with support of the P/S Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation (SCAF) for use of the kitchen and dining room at the Pine Community Center.
You can enjoy a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, meet new people, see old friends and leave with a full tummy, full heart and good memories. If you can’t get out, someone will deliver a hot meal to your door with a smiling face and good wishes. Christmas dinner will be served in the dining room at the P/S Community Center at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 25. Everyone is invited!
A reminder that SCAF provides senior lunches on weekdays. For information on the Christmas dinner or the daily lunches, call (928) 476-2151.
Christmas Eve Service
First Baptist Church on Highway 87 in Pine will hold two services on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. There will be singing of Christmas hymns and a Christmas message. Come celebrate the reason for the season.
Don’t forget to take time to smell the Christmas trees and send your events to firstname.lastname@example.org.