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Physical work begins on Copper Canyon trailhead
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Thursday, 04 August 2011 03:00

It took more than a decade of talking, planning, wrangling and waiting, but initial work finally began last week on the construction of a permanent usable trailhead at Copper Canyon.

U.S. Forest Service employees and volunteers were out at the site before 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, July 28, marking off some of the boundaries of the future site.

Survey flags flutter in the breeze at the Copper Canyon trailhead after initial work on the long-anticipated project began Thursday, July 28. Brush clearing to create a parking area is expected to begin this week.The trailhead is along a dirt road near where Oasis and Salt Mine roads meet, heading into the canyon bordered on one side by I-17 as it winds up through the Black Hills and Prescott National Forest land on the other.

The site is now surrounded by posts with tiny colored flags fluttering in the breeze to mark the boundaries of where workers will clean out brush in the next phase. The phase was expected to start as early as Monday, Aug. 1, Camp Verde Mayor Bob Burnside said.

Now the area is filled with bits of broken beer bottles, scrub brush and a few horse apples, but soon it will be cleared out for an attractive area that includes parking, culverts, concrete walkways and bathrooms. There will eventually be a smoother crushed-stone entry road and Burnside said there was enough money left over in the project to put up two ramadas with room for picnic tables and some grills.

Funding for the project is being provided through a $178,000 federal grant that was awarded two years ago. While the grant is two years old, this project has been something many residents have wanted to see come to fruition for at least 12 years, if not longer. It had been discussed frequently by the town’s now-defunct trails and pathways committee.

At least five Camp Verde mayors and at least five different head rangers have come and gone since the first efforts to build a trailhead got under way. The project had also been put on the back burner while the Forest Service worked on building its new multimillion ranger station for the Verde Ranger District. The new building, funded in part by money the Town of Camp Verde paid the Forest Service for park land, replaced an old structure that had been in use since the 1950s.

The town is spending $1,000 donated by the Verde Valley Horsemen’s Council to erect an informational kiosk at the site.

Other donations include labor from local companies, everything from the installation of fencing to other materials. Yavapai County has even volunteered employees to help survey and prepare the site. All in all, the value of these donations rings up at around $31,000, according to Tom Palmer, a ranger with the Prescott National Forest.

Burnside, who helped work to get the trailhead project rolling again, said he expected the brush clearing to take about a week. After that, Burnside said notice will be given to a local contractor to start the bulk of the construction phase. Burnside said he wasn’t sure how long that phase would take, but estimated that it could be ready in less than a month.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Burnside said. “I’m glad it’s up and running, and hopefully soon we can put this puppy to bed.”


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