Courthouse Butte trail system will receive facelift over next three months
Local trails will be the focus of a renovation project this winter.
The Forest Service’s trail crew, aided by local volunteers, are gearing up for three months of work on trails surrounding and southeast of Courthouse Butte.
The project, approved by the Forest Service in 2018, will reconstruct the Dairy Spring and Pine Valley trails and perform maintenance on other popular trails near Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.
Ranger Amy Tinderholt of the Red Rock District emphasized that the main goal of the project is to improve the sustainability of the overall trail system as part of a healthy Verde Valley watershed initiative.
Amy added, “people need access to the National Forest. Well planned and maintained trails are the best way to make that happen.”
The Dairy Springs and Pine Valley trails are located north of Jacks Canyon Road and east of Big Park Loop. They are accessed from the Jacks Canyon Trailhead.
Reconstruction of nearly five miles of Dairy Springs/Pine Valley trails will improve user experience and make trails resist the damaging effects of water, wind and heavy use.
Forrest Saville, Forest Service Trails Coordinator, emphasized that “these trails were built decades ago, without best trail management practices and sorely need reconstruction to modern standards”.
According to Forrest, an eight-person American Conservation Experience (ACE) youth crew will work on the project from late February through April.
Maintenance will be done on other area trails including Courthouse Butte Loop, Big Park Loop, Bell Rock Pathway and three trails within the nearby Munds Mountain Wilderness.
The Forest Service trail crew and volunteers hope to complete at least 14 miles of maintenance.
Crew Supervisor Kyle Robb explained, “We’ll renovate drainage features and install short reroutes to improve trail sustainability in these highly erosive soils. Work outside Wilderness may include use of a mini trail excavator machine.”
It took two years and a major community fundraising effort to secure the $100,000 plus for this project, including five grants and numerous donations. Nearly half the funding was dedicated by the National Forest Foundation and matched by donations from local businesses through the local “Trail Keeper” project. In addition, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund and Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition worked together to secure grants from the Yavapai County Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), Recreational Equipment Inc (REI), the National Wilderness Stewardship Council, and The Arizona Community Foundation (ACF). Dozens of donations to the SRRTF contributed to the successful fundraising for this project.
Chris Johansen, Red Rock District Recreation Program Manager, stated, “no question, community fundraising, and grants are making this project happen.” Kevin Adams, SRRTF President added, “A lot of this work is possible because of the many donations from people who love these trails”.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act establishes Resource Advisory Committees, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and consisting of fifteen local citizens. The Yavapai RAC’s role is to review and recommend projects for approval that represent different variations of natural resource work in Yavapai County to the Forest Supervisor.
The Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest includes 560,000 acres of public lands including the area around Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, and Verde Valley communities on the east side of the Verde River.
The district contains over 400 miles of non-motorized trails which receive more than 2 million visitors per year.