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Charouleau Gap Closure--Letters needed! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Trilby Arnold   
Friday, 17 September 2004

From Article by Becky Antle of Tucson Rough Riders

"The Charouleau Gap access road is up for renewal. Without our input the Gap road could become a one way in and the same way out again. The Right of Way is again up for renewal.

The 10 year ROW lease is up October 8, 2007. So we need to start writing letters right now to help retain our access.

I have met with the Game and Fish Department and they are trying to buy the access road and then deed it to the Forest Service. At this point there is a major hold up, the Arizona State Land Department. The Coronado Forest Service has not been able to complete the transfer of the ROW due to complications with the appraisal requirements from the Arizona State Land Department.

By federal regulations an agency must provide an appraisal of the land according to the Uniform Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970. The Forest Service and the Arizona State Land Department need to develop a mutually agreeable appraisal and acquisition procedure. The Arizona State Land Department standards are not clear and could change.

Appraisal reports are prepared in compliance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (2000) and the Uniform Appraisal Professional Appraisal Practice (2003).

At this point in time the Forest Service is working with the Arizona Game and Fish department to convert several State Trust Land 10 year right-of-ways to perpetual easements. These include Dry Canyon, Charouleau Gap, Stanford/Pridham Canyons and Emigrant Canyon.

If a mutual agreement and appraisal isn't done within the next three years the ROW will need to be renewed. With the development in the area the chance for that renewal is very slim.

What is needed now is for you and your friends or others that you know that are using the Gap to write letters to our Governor, State Land Department and also to the Regional office in New Mexico.

We need to let the Arizona State Land Department know that we are not going to let this road go, we will fight to keep it. This is an historic trail that has been in use for many, many years.

The TRR has given over 5000 hours of volunteer service to keep this road open.

Recorded figures for the year 2001 showed that the Gap had over 4594 users which conservatively generatoring over $200,000.00 for the local economy.

Please take the next couple of minutes and write a letter saying why you want the Gap to stay open. Please include your name and address, so that you can receive a response.

The Charouleau Gap road is one of the premier multi- use roads in the Tucson area. There are so few back country areas in the Coronado Forest that are accessible to everyone, so this one becomes very important.

Talking Points:
• Stress that this is a multiple use road providing hunting, equestrian, bicycling and OHV opportunities.

• Indicate that this road is a family experience and a challenge.

• This is one of the best maintained roads in the Forest Service System, all done by volunteer hours.

• The Game and Fish Department has been instrumental in keeping our access in Arizona open to all.

• One of the few challenging roads in Southern Arizona.
* Closure could discriminate against the handicapped as 4WD is their only way to experience this back country.

• You do not need to write a long letter; actually we might have more luck with shorter letters as they will be read. Please forward this message to all of those people you know that use the Gap and want to maintain its access.


The following people that need to receive your letters are:

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Telephone 602-542-4331
Fax 602-542-1381
Website: http://www.governor.state.az.us/

Arizona State Land Department
Mark Winkleman, Director
1616 W. Adams
Phoenix, AZ 85007
602 542-4521

USFS Southwest Region
Regional Forester Harv Forsgren
333 Broadway, SE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Thanks for all of your help saving our trails and roads.

If you have any questions please call, 520 682-0273.

Becky Antle
TRR Land Use Chair
ASA4WDCLegislative Liason

History

For those of you who may not know the story of the Gap Access road. Here is what happened to bring about the reopening of the Charouleau Gap road in the Catalina Forest District. The Gap road was closed to traffic on the Catalina side for a couple of years.

Back in mid 1990’s the Gap road closed because it crossed a ¾ mile stretch of private road. The home owners closed the road to access.

Many recreationalists used this road with little respect for the people who lived there. Most of the trouble came from the uneducated that use our wilderness with little care for the environment. These people blasted down this road with little thought to what they were doing.

Another reason was that the home owners on this small stretch of road wanted the county to take it and improve it, which means paving it. The problem? The road is private and the utilities are not buried as deep as they should have been. These homes were built a long time ago and there are only a few of them.

So the home owners closed Edwin Road to the general public.

We, the TRR were able to complete the trail a couple of times, if we went out with the forest service vehicles. This was only when we had to do major work up on the road, such as graffiti removal and major restoration road work.

Now the battle had really begun.

There was what seemed to be years of meetings to restore our trail, I attended every one of them. They were held in Tucson, Catalina, Oracle and Florence. The attendees were from Game and Fish, Forest Service, ranchers, residents, hikers, environmentalists, developers, OHVer’s, equestrians and the four wheelers.

The letters filled many large three ring binders, and covered all possible complaints whether they were true or real or not. Charges against the wheelers and OHV community from the local Saddlebrook home owners were that there would be damage of the terrain or vandalism and target practice on the Saddlebrook RV storage facility. Other complaints were that the OHV community would have orgies and drug parties up on the Gap.

The OHV community worked very closely with the agencies in trying to bring a solution to this closure. It took us many hours of negotiation and letters and meetings to finally come to an agreement.

In 1997 the Game and Fish Department was finally awarded the Right of Way (ROW) for the Gap road. This was a 10 year ROW. The Game and Fish Department along with the Coronado Forest Service and the Arizona State Land Department were able to build the road that we currently use for access. This was a collaborative event between the three agencies. At that time the Arizona State Land Department was under a different administration.

There were stipulations on this road also. We had to follow an old existing road as close as possible, to limit the impact. We had to move all of the vegetation along the roadway to the sides of the road, including cholla. This was no easy task. It took many weekends of work to finish the project.

The Tucson Rough Riders (TRR) along with the Arizona State Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (ASA4WDC) worked three full weekends putting up the fence that you see along the roadway sides. The clubs in the ASA4WDC spent their weekends down here in Tucson to help us gain our access back. I cannot tell you how many miles of fencing I stretched or posts that I held to help put up that fence.

Well, after many weeks, days and hours of hard work we finally got our access back. Saddlebrook Community complained the most, but they seem to be the ones who use the road the most also. They like the fact that they have a trail so close to their house for hiking, horses and other activities.

 

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