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Sun, Oct. 20

New Prescott Forest road map now available

The Prescott National Forest has produced its first new road map in at least seven years and, for the first time, it's free.

The large folded maps with detailed motorized road and trail listings are available at all the Prescott National Forest offices in Prescott (344 S. Cortez St.), Chino Valley and Camp Verde. The map also is scheduled to be online at www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott.

The 2005 National Travel Management Rule requires all national forests to identify vehicular use areas on maps.

It also requires national forests to prohibit vehicular travel off the designated system of roads and trails.

Unlike some other national forests in Arizona, the new rule won't produce much change on the Prescott National Forest because its forest plan has prohibited off-road travel since 1989.

Now that the maps are out, forest users will be responsible to use them to avoid violating road-use laws, forest officials warned.

The new free maps are less detailed than the usual national forest maps that cost money, although they do show topographic features. They are not in color, they don't include non-motorized trails, they don't show developed recreation areas, and they don't display township, ranges and sections.

The new maps contain a handy inset for the Prescott Basin that makes it easier to see roads than previous smaller maps.

And the new maps show which roads are accessible to all vehicles or restricted to only certain types of vehicles such as motorcycles because they are narrow.

Additional written information about road rules is featured next to the maps of various forest districts.

The large maps include about 1,500 miles of motorized roads and 410 miles of motorized trails.

While the maps are more accurate than previous maps, they still could contain mistakes. Users who find mistakes can call 443-8000.

The Prescott National Forest will review the accuracy of the maps annually and may produce errata sheets or new maps, recreation staff officer Bruce Fahrni said.

"We tried to verify as many roads as possible," he said.

The maps note that people can drive as far as 300 feet off the road to a primitive campsite or wood-gathering site anywhere on the forest outside of the Prescott Basin. In the basin, that travel is limited to 50 feet for day-use or fuel wood gathering. Camping is prohibited in the basin outside of developed campgrounds and sites designated with numbered posts.

While the Prescott Forest waits for the neighboring Kaibab and Coconino forests to produce their new travel maps, hunters will not be able to travel more than 300 feet off roads to retrieve game, either.

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