BLM proposes trails, campsites at Agua Fria Monument
With only two short trails on the 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument and no campgrounds, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials are considering adding two more trails as well as campsites, an equestrian staging area and shaded picnic areas.
Visitors have repeatedly told BLM officials they'd like to see more of these amenities, said Nancy Stallard, the monument ranger who spends a lot of time talking to visitors.
The BLM is seeking initial public comments about the proposal before starting work on an environmental assessment of its potential impacts.
The BLM wants people to email comments by Saturday to BLM_Az_AFNM_Bradshaw@blm.gov. Put "Badger Springs Recreation Area" in the subject line. Or, mail them by Saturday to Agua Fria National Monument, BLM Phoenix District, 21605 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, Ariz. 85027.
For a map of the proposed improvements, see this story online at dcourier.com.
The facilities and trailheads would be located in the Badger Springs area just east of Interstate 17 off the Badger Springs exit, between Cordes Junction and Black Canyon City.
"It's really an ideal entryway to the monument, and a great location for a really nice trailhead," Stallard said.
The number of monument visitors has increased by about 25 percent to more than 108,000 people annually, BLM officials estimate. About one-fifth of them visit the Badger Springs area.
The proposal includes a seven-mile loop trail that would start at the end of the existing short Badger Springs Wash Trail and follow closed roads over the Agua Fria River and up Perry Mesa. It would not include any bridges.
The existing Badger Springs Wash Trail starts at the end of the short Badger Springs Road off I-17 and leads down to the river.
The second proposed new trail would begin at the restroom along Badger Springs Road and follow an existing closed road 1.5 miles up Black Mesa to the Badger Springs Pueblo. The BLM already leads hikes to this pueblo.
Both trails would be GPS and smart phone post-guided trails, and the BLM would produce trail brochures.
The BLM also is proposing to designate a small camping area at the end of Badger Springs Road where people already are camping. The BLM would designate parking and provide fire rings, but not a restroom or trash removal. The existing restroom is located about a quarter-mile away.
An equestrian group staging/camp area would be in the same area.
Shaded concrete tables for day use and an informational kiosk round out the proposal.
The Badger Springs Recreation Area proposal is part of the BLM's effort to implement its 2010 management plan for the monument, said Pamela Mathis, BLM district public affairs specialist.
The monument is part of the National Landscape Conservation System. The system's 15-year strategy focuses on landscape conservation but also seeks to increase public education about the landscapes, Mathis added.
Resource protection is the BLM's main mission for the monument, but it also wants to provide a better recreation experience and interpret its rich cultural resources for the public, Mathis said.
The BLM would take measures to protect the pueblo, Stallard said.
The only other existing trail on the monument is a short one leading to Pueblo La Plata from Bloody Basin Road.