FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coconino National Forest authorities would like to remind the public to stay off forest roads that are closed, and do not drive around gates, barricades, or signs that indicate a road is closed for the season.
With the recent wet weather, law enforcement has found tracks of drivers ignoring road-closed signs and indicators, which have created deep ruts and damaged forest roads and sensitive areas, as well as left motorists stranded for several hours until they could be rescued.
Coconino National Forest closes many forest roads every winter season in order to protect resources, watersheds, and forest roads from damage caused by even the lightest vehicles on soft, wet soil.
Additionally, drivers are reminded that even when a forest road or camping area is open, care should be taken when driving on the soil, and drivers should not continue driving on an open road if the vehicle begins to create deep ruts or otherwise damage the road or soil.
Damaging forest roads and areas costs valuable resources and personnel time to repair the damage after the roads dry out. It also prolongs road closures, which affects recreational opportunities in areas that must remain closed until repaired.
The survival of wildlife during the winter is precarious and disturbance by humans increases wildlife mortality. Wildlife survive winter by creating fat reserves and limiting activity. This energy is needed to sustain body temperature in the extreme cold. Vehicle travel in closed areas during the winter season not only disturbs wildlife, but may destroy vegetation necessary for wildlife survival.
There is no set date by which districts on the forest close or re-open forest roads. Districts will re-open forest roads as the weather dries out and the soil on and around forest roads harden enough to safely accept the weight of vehicles.
Please call the Coconino County’s non-emergency number at (928) 774-4523 to report any trespassers or violators of these closures. Forest Service law enforcement works in cooperation with other law enforcement offices within the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Department of Public Safety to ensure lands are protected.
Please visit www.coconinonationalforest.us and click on the “Road Status” link in the right column under Quick Links to check the status of some of the main forest roads in each district, or call the district office for the latest information.
When a road is open, drivers must remember to stay on open and authorized roads shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map, which is free at ranger stations or can be downloaded on a smartphone at http://go.usa.gov/PEa.
Information provided by Coconino National Forest