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Draft plan for trailhead includes horse trailer parking

Prescott Valley Tribune Graphic

Prescott Valley Tribune Graphic

No new Prescott National Forest trailhead is a done deal until the district ranger signs off on it. However, the proposed Newtown Avenue trailhead in Dewey-Humboldt continues to move toward reality.

Jason Williams, PNF trails and wilderness manager, presented a draft sketch of what the trailhead might look like at the Dewey-Humboldt Open Space and Trails Advisory Committee meeting on Dec. 3. Before PNF spends money on trails or trailheads, Williams' job is to collect and share information, and conduct impact studies, he said.

"My job is to plan development and maintenance of trails, but it is not my job to decide," he told the committee and about 10 others at the meeting.

Newtown Avenue deadends at the PNF boundary on the west side of Highway 69 off Kachina Place and Henderson. Currently, hikers and equestrians are parking within the Dewey-Humboldt town boundaries at the side of the road, often encroaching onto private property.

The plan includes moving the gate from the town property at Newtown Avenue to 200' across the proposed parking area within PNF boundaries. The ranching family that holds a grazing permit with PNF will use the gate, which will remain locked, to access the land at different times of the year.

The parking space can accommodate six to eight vehicles with trailers to the left of the entrance, and the right side will be designated for vehicles only. Williams said a sign with a diagram of the parking plan is a good idea.

A small corral will be available for dual use by both equestrians and the rancher.

"We need to make sure this fits with the permittee's needs," he said.

Sandra Goodwin, OSAT committee chair, said one of the committee's major concerns is making sure the rancher is in support of the plan.

"We are extremely pleased with the cooperation of the rancher," she said.

Williams responded to a question about another local rancher who conducts trail rides involving up to 15 trailers. Williams said he would write into the plans a possible future extension of the parking lot, and he would look for grants to help with the cost.

The town budget includes $10,000 for OSAT projects, but Williams said he didn't think it would cost that much to put in the trailhead. Still ahead are impact studies and consultations with the archeologist, soil hydrologist and biologist, and also time for public comments.

"We are looking for substantial comments from the public - what you do or don't like about the project," he told the audience, adding that in the best-case scenario, public comment time frames would take place in January.

This proposed trailhead is one of several leading to Lynx Lake, about 10-15 miles from Dewey-Humboldt, that are included on the list of the Greater Prescott Trail plans. That trail eventually will connect to the Black Canyon Trail near Cleator, he said.

Williams plans to contact the private owners of parcels that abut PNF at Newtown Avenue. He said he originally installed the existing gate to address shooting and dumping issues. The proposed fenced parking lot and a 5'-10' buffer of natural vegetation should calm any such concerns.

In other matters, OSAT Chair Goodwin said she spoke with D-H Town Manager Yvonne Kimball about placing safety signs around town that state "Watch for Horses." Kimball told her there is no money allocated for these signs in the 2014-2015 budget, so this project may have to wait.

"We are 'Arizona's Country Town.' We have people on horses riding up and down our streets," Goodwin said. "We do need signs."

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