In August of 2012 the Forest Service completed all the environmental studies and gave us the green light to begin construction on eight miles of new trail from behind Camp Lo Mia to the Strawberry Trailhead.
The project was first conceived in 2009 as a result of a project PSFR did seeding the fuel break with native grass in order to create a low intensity fuel that can be burned off every few years, clearing the fuel break of new chaparral growth and eliminating the need for the expensive hand crews to do the mechanical clearing. While out there casting seed we saw that the section behind the neighborhoods on the north side of Pine was very hard to get to because there is very limited access and steep terrain. It’s also more difficult for the Forest Service to maintain that portion of the fuel break.
So the idea of building a new trail in the area was born. We initially partnered with the Northern Gila County Economic Development Corporation and the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona on this project. MBAA gave us a grant to hire an experienced trail designer, Mark Flint of Southwest Design Solutions, and NGCED contributed $5,000 to construction costs.
While this trail was originally planned by PSFR as a fire mitigation measure – allowing better access to the fuel break in that area for maintenance thereby reducing the type of vegetation prone to carrying fire – the Forest Service also cited the benefits of the trail as a wildlife corridor and a fire line. NGCEDC saw the economic potential of the project for the community.
While many other organizations were involved in the project from the recreation standpoint, the main purpose of this as far as we’re concerned is wildfire mitigation. This project should make not only the nearby neighborhoods safer, but the entire area.
We received a grant from Arizona State Parks for some of the construction, done by youth crews from the Arizona Conservation Experience, and used volunteers for other sections of the new trail. The Forest Service required recognized trainings and CPR classes for all our volunteers. PSFR hosted an International Mountain Bike Association Trail Building School and an Arizona Trail Training Session in addition to Forest Service hands-on trail building sessions.