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A long-awaited plan to manage and protect Fossil Creek has been released despite the current closure of Fossil Creek and damage from the June spine fire.
The signatures of Laura Jo West, Supervisor of Coconino National Forest, and Neil Bosworth, Supervisor of Tonto National Forest, enable the implementation of the Comprehensive Fossil Creek River Management Plan (CRMP).
In addition to the CRMP, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Decision Report (ROD), and Supplemental Information Report – detailing the documented effects of the Ridge fire in the Fossil Creek area – have been completed. been published.
This plan will enable several projects in the Fossil Creek area, including road rehabilitation, visitor use management and shoreline stabilization.
“An extraordinary amount of work, effort, collaboration and public input has gone into developing this river management plan,” said West. “It’s been a long process to get here, but that doesn’t overshadow the importance of having included stakeholders and people who have a vested interest in how Fossil Creek is valued, protected and managed. This plan aims to provide continued recreational opportunities while protecting the wild and scenic river for many years to come.
Fossil Creek, named after travertine deposits that resemble fossil beds, is a homeland and place of origin for neighboring tribal communities. When European settlers began to operate mines in the nearby mountains, water from the springs was tapped and used as a source of energy around the turn of the century. The flow of Fossil Creek was diverted for about a century and was only recently restored to its full capacity in 2005. This restoration – in addition to the famous turquoise blue water of Fossil Creek – has made the desert destination a must see. place of recreation and wildlife.
Congress designated Fossil Creek as a wild and scenic river in 2009 and ordered the establishment of a formal management plan. Because the stream creates the border between the national forests of Coconino and Tonto, the two forests worked together to develop the CRMP.
After 12 years of collaboration, the CRMP was finalized and ready to be signed in June 2021. However, the Backbone Fire – which burned the entire Wild and Scenic River corridor – delayed the process.
Due to the low number of high intensity burn effects and a mosaic of non, lightly and moderately burned areas, the Fossil Creek area is expected to recover from the Backbone fire in just a few years.
The comprehensive management plan for Fossil Creek provides the flexibility to meet changing management needs and use patterns in the region. It includes plans for:
- Public security
- Repair of forest road 708
- Protection and enhancement of natural and cultural values
- Site improvements for quality leisure experiences
- Efficient management of visitor use by maintaining the current permit system
- Monitoring and adaptive management
The finalized plan allows for increased opportunities for visitors to experience Fossil Creek by increasing user capacity and designating improvements to various recreation sites over time.
Although much of the Fossil Creek corridor will remain closed until 2022 due to the backbone fire, the eventual implementation of the CRMP could allow an increase in the number of visitors if certain criteria outlined in the plan are met. respected.
The adaptive management framework and the ongoing participation and monitoring of Coconino and Tonto National Forests – as well as partner agencies – are central to the decision and the comprehensive management plan.
For more information on the Fossil Creek CRMP and decision recording, please visit the Coconino National Forest website.
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