Near the end of the three year long National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that was required to get approval to build the Bearfoot Trail, in 2012 the Forest Service informed us that the planned route crossing Pine Creek would have to be changed due to Goshawk nesting sites discovered in the area.
We do like our wild birds! So a new NEPA was performed for an area further up the creek, and we were told that a simple bridge could be constructed quickly, easily and cheaply using materials that could be brought into site.
Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case since the only workable crossing in the new area required a 60 foot span bridge. We researched our options and settled on an E.T. Techtonics fiberglass bridge because they are lightweight structures requiring relatively low maintenance.
They provided us detailed plans, which gradually made their way through the Tonto National Forest engineering division for approval.
In the meantime, we began fundraising for the project and received two corporate grants. We want to thank Arizona Public Service and the Walmart Foundation for their generosity in donating $2,500 each to this project and showing their strong commitment to protecting the forest health in our community.
The balance of funding for the bridge project, approximately $37,000, came from our annual Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race. We thank our racers and event supporters for helping this bridge project transform from an idea to a reality we can all use.
The new bridge was delivered, unassembled, on a pallet along with many boxes of hardware, and we purchased additional materials and hardware locally to save on shipping costs. Then the fun began!
The shipment, of course, arrived during a snowstorm but, thankfully, Payson Concrete showed up with a forklift to get it off the truck. Mike (a Home Depot subcontractor) picked up the unassembled bridge from where it was stored in Pine and drove it out closer to the worksite free of charge.
Uncle Toms Kwik Stop (twice!) donated pizza to the work crews. The Pine Strawberry Fire Department sent a sawyer out to cut down a large tree for us. Home Depot gave us (2) $25 gift cards.
Chelsea Muise and Chris Welker of the Payson Ranger District provided invaluable support throughout the process.
The project could not have been accomplished without the expertise of Brennan McLaws of Blue Moon Contracting.
And of course we have to thank the many hours of hard work put in by the awesome Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Trail Crew. Several outings went as late as sunset, twice as long as our usual outings.