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County releases regional trail plan
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 00:00

A final draft of a plan to tie the trail system in the Verde Valley together was released to the public late last month by Yavapai County.

Now the plan will be floated to local communities for input on what the county hopes to accomplish. The county defines the plan as a “long-range vision for how trails and open space networks could fit into the future vision for the Verde Valley” and “a practical resource and guide for all of the communities and land agencies.”

The plan has been years in the making.

In 2004, a group of trail advocates and representatives of several agencies throughout the Verde Valley got together with the idea of creating a master trail plan for the area.

The group worked with local governments and other organizations to study the then-current state of the trails in the region. Efforts started with collecting GPS data on the trails to create a map to work with.

The plan looks to other successful trail efforts, including the work of residents Howard Parrish, Doug Roy and Lynn Reddell, among others, to reestablish the old Camp Verde to Payson mail trail. The connected trails in red rock country were also put forward as an example of successful trail-building efforts.

The group spells out specific goals for the trails plan, hoping to promote connectivity between local agencies to manage a Verde Valley-wide system of trails. The plan also looks at ways a regional trail system could be funded, including money from the 2009 federal stimulus bill, or the American Recovery and Investment Act.

Other potential sources include federal transportation dollars for nonmotorized trails and state funding and grants. The current economic situation led the state to suspend much of this type of funding, but the plan looks to the long term.

Revenue bonds, hotel taxes and development impact fees are addressed in the plan as other potential sources of funding.

The plan argues that trails “positively impact individuals and improve communities by providing not only recreation and transportation opportunities, but also by influencing economic and community development. Trails provide countless opportunities for economic renewal and growth.”

An established and maintained trail system also has the benefit of reducing the number of social trails people create, trails that have the potential to cause damage to the local environment and ecosystem, a particular concern in a valley where one of Arizona’s only year-round flowing rivers is located.

The plan’s authors also cite a 1992 National Park Service study that showed trails provide economic benefits to surrounding areas, bringing in visitors who spend money at local businesses.

Also included in the plan are more technical descriptions of ideal trail maintenance standards and the stories behind some of the historic trails in the area.

Camp Verde and Cottonwood have already had a look at the plan. It will be sent around to other communities, both incorporated and unincorporated, in the coming weeks before being sent back to the county Board of Supervisors shortly after the new year.

The entire 90-page plan is available for review online at www.co.yavapai.az.us.

 

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