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home : latest news : latest news September 26, 2016

4/26/2012 5:21:00 PM
New closures, camping restrictions start in Coconino Forest
Starting next week, dispersed vehicle camping in the Coconino National Forest will be permitted within 300 feet of the roadway along nearly 600 miles of designated camping corridors. Along all other open roads vehicles must remain within 30 feet of the road.
Starting next week, dispersed vehicle camping in the Coconino National Forest will be permitted within 300 feet of the roadway along nearly 600 miles of designated camping corridors. Along all other open roads vehicles must remain within 30 feet of the road.
The Coconino National Forest has released a free map to the public showing what roads will remain open for on-highway and off-highway use as well as where the dispersed camping corridors are.
The Coconino National Forest has released a free map to the public showing what roads will remain open for on-highway and off-highway use as well as where the dispersed camping corridors are.

Steve Ayers
Staff Reporter

CAMP VERDE - The implementation of road closures and new vehicle camping restrictions on the Coconino National Forest, six years in the making, will begin on May 1.

Known as the Travel Management Rule, it will close off 3,000 miles of roads formerly accessible to the public and effectively close many favorite camping spots to RVs and travel trailers.

To ensure the public understands with new rules, the Forest Service is giving away free maps that show which roads will remain open and which corridors remain open for dispersed vehicle camping.

Copies of the map are now available at the Verde Ranger Station in Camp Verde, Red Rock Ranger Station south of the Village of Oak Creek, Happy Jack Ranger Station and the CNF offices in Flagstaff.

"We don't expect everyone is going to be able to follow the map 100 percent. We kind of see the map as the speed limit, the purpose of which is to provide an incentive to do the right thing," says Mike Dechter, travel management rule coordinator for the CNF.

The two-sided, three-by-five foot map, delineates the 3,000 miles of open roads, showing which ones are open only to highway licensed vehicles and which ones are open to all vehicles, including ATVs, along with the 600 miles of corridors open to camping.

A downloadable version of the map for Garmin GPS units is also available free on the CNF websites as well as one for use with smart phones. Go to and click on the "Travel Management Rule" link.

Under the new rules, vehicle camping in RVs is allowed within 300 feet of the road in any of the designated camping corridors. Outside of the camping corridors, vehicles must stay within 30 feet of the roadway.

"There appears to be some confusion when it comes to camping restrictions," Dechter says. "Actually the entire forest is open to camping. The only restriction is on where motor vehicles can go."

The Coconino National Forest will not post signs notifying visitors of roads that have been closed. Instead they will rely on the maps.

"Over the past five years we have worked really, really hard to get route-marker signs up, which tell you what road you are on," Dechter says. "It's actually national policy not to put closure signs out because in the past it has backfired.

"It has provided an incentive for people to tear down and vandalize those signs. They are very good at it, much better than we are at keeping them up."

Dechter says that over time the roads being closed off will be obliterated, a gate installed or some sort of roadblock put in place to discourage traffic.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Article comment by: Archy Hamm

What a shame for our future generations of campers and hunters to never be able to experience the freedoms we once knew.

Like many of the comments above, I too have been using the PUBLIC forests for over 6 decades. My family has used the same roads and camping spots before I was even born and now the Feds are closing them because it damages the forest??? There is no rational thought here. Forcing us to camp in one or two retricted areas and closing off smaller roads does decimate the forest. You see this every day in establised dirty, noisy, and smelly campgrounds. When we are able to spread campers and vehicles over a wide area that has time to regenerate, there is less damage.

I and my extended family are very discouraged and will sign any petition, donate money, join any class action law suit and continue to criticize these ignorant decisions whenever I can. What next? Going to charge us a fee to drive on any National Forest road? I know others will join the outrage and stop this practice of robbing the majority of their freedoms for the minority, many of who do not even use the forests, sitting behind desks and writing policies without any public hearing or research. Add my voice to the outrage.

Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Article comment by: Lance Haverland

DISGUSTING! Try getting out from behind your desks and doing your job instead of turning off the lights and closing the door to everyone! I used to carry a garbage bag and clean up trash I would find along the trails and roads...sorry I wasted my time. I guess when custodians get tired of maintaining and cleaning, they can just close the building and sit like our Forest service. When will the layoffs start?

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Article comment by: Jim Burkhart

I assume Mr. Dechter is the person who worked on this Travel Management Rule. He must be from California! If he was born in AZ he should be ashamed of himself. I hope it gets challenged in court. A big class action law suit would be great. Strange & Carpenter 12100 Wilshire Blvd. suit 1900 Los Angles, Ca 310-207-5055.
They specialize in this area. Someone take the lead and thousands will follow.

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Article comment by: JAMES BURKHART

I agree with Preston Miller's comments completely! I am amazed that the Dept. of Forest Service will spend time and dollars developing this Travel Management Rule, put up Closure signs, gates and roadblocks. What you should be doing is getting in the field and write tickets to the people who truly abuse the land. Instead you sit in an office and make a dumb Travel Management Rule. Always Remember your jobs were put there by the people and we can take them away. A five year old child could have done a better job than the current Dept. of Forest Service. Up to this time I had a great deal of respect for the DFS and would do anything to help the cause...not now... the rules have changed and so have mine!

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Article comment by: two cents

These road, trail, and campground closures aren't about conservation. More likely they are about money. Money for grazing, logging, and or mining permits. Also when the forest service hires private contractors with taxpayer money, to patrol and control the camping grounds and maintain trails, then the concerns of the camper become secondary to collecting camping fees and keeping people out of the back country.
just my two cents for what its worth

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Article comment by: walt engelenburg

There are not enough words to express my anger of a freedom taken AWAY, from americans, to enjoy our natural resources. I anticipate a legal fight. Go ahead and fine me! I WILL challenge this law or "rule".

Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2012
Article comment by: Preston Miller

I wrote this email. and intend to send it either in email, comment or letter form to anyone I can find who is involved in it.
To whom it may concern,
Before I delve into this email, let me state that I am an avid sports and outdoors-man, and conservationist. I have been using the Arizona Mogollon rim area my entire life. I respect the forest and all it has to offer and always have a policy of leaving no trace, and in fact have made a point of it to pick up any trash I find where ever I happen to be. I have always loved traveling up the small two track roads to get away from others, and enjoy the forest, camping in quiet solitude with my family.
This last weekend of July 6-8 2012, I was doing just that with my father and brother. A Forest Service Ranger came into our camp and informed us of all the new laws and policies about the road travel and camping restrictions. We were approximately 200 feet past where we are now "allowed" to camp, and were given a warning. This was my first time hearing about it, and I am disgusted. How dare you. There are many problems with what you have done. For starters, it is prejudice against anyone who is handicapped to restrict camping areas to everyone except backpackers. Second, not everyone likes so called "improved campgrounds" and it upsets me that my tax dollars are going to pay for them. I believe they make the forest ugly, smelly and is totally contradictory to your "preserve the forest" campaign. Third, by closing unmarked two track roads you are denying people of what is rightfully theirs. Yes, as a US citizen, and legal resident of Arizona those forests are MINE. They belong to the people, not the Forest Service, or the government or any agency thereof, and you have NO RIGHT to tell me or anyone else where I can and can't camp, park or drive. People have been using those roads for decades, and camping off of them, and it hasn't hurt the forest one bit. It is still a beautiful healthy habitat. Fourth, you have created a very real problem for hunters such as me. You have effectively closed most of the forest to hunting and here is why. When any one shoots big game, able bodied or not, there is only so far you can carry or drag a carcass. You need a vehicle to move it very far. If we are no longer allowed to drive more than a car length away from marked roads, you have made it so all we can do is road hunt. THAT IS NOT SPORTING. ANY limitation on this is unfair to sportsmen.
With what I have said in consideration I would like you to know that I am formally with drawing any and all future support, both politically and financially to conservationism, the forest service, and any other agency or politician that has anything to do with public land management. YOU WILL NOT SEE ANOTHER RED CENT FROM ME until these policies and laws are removed and the public is allowed to use our national forests freely. That is how it was originally intended when the federal government initially assigned the land to be national forest land. I would also like you to know, that I will be making it my personal goal from now on to inform as many people as possible about my boycott, and convincing any one and every one I can to join me in this quest. I strongly urge you and anyone else involved to reverse the damage you have caused as quickly as possible if you value the position you are in. Even the forest ranger who I came in contact with agreed that these new restrictions are unwarranted, and undesired by 95% of the people she talks to every day. I am sure any elected official or person with a government job understands the significance of the term 95%. In the words of my father, “what is the point of preserving the forest if no one can use it.”
Thank you for your time,
-Preston Miller

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Article comment by: Jesse Rodrigues

Buy a horse or mule. Rancher's DO.

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012
Article comment by: Rodney Spohn

After 20+ years camping in the same couple of spots I was informed by a ranger they are now closed. We have enjoyed miles of ATV trails as we raised our boys. Now also told many are closed not only to ATVs but all vehicles. I am so glad I had use of this area to raise my boys but am sad they will not have the same. I feel this is another attack on the family since camping & riding have been a major part of keeping our family tight. After our last trip I was about ready to sell everything and just stop camping since it apparently no longer public land. But I have decided to at least give myself a chance to follow the map and see how restrictive it really is going to be, and then I'll decide.
When a road is closed at one point even though it is a numbered road and continues on you will be forced to go back out to the highway and the go in at a different place. So unless you are licensed for the road you would have to break the law to get to the next entry point or just ride back and forth on the same small section of road. ( wow how fun is that) I see people making trails along the shoulder of the road to keep off. If I find this to be the case I will do a couple things. One stops camping and sell everything and two start contacting every government office to complain. I hope some group has the funds to sue over closure of public land to the public. If as this article states it is all open to camping but you cut off access how is that open. I am handy capped and will not be able to use this area even if I wanted to. What is our government coming to - instead of enforcing laws already on the books the close it to everyone? Just stop camping at water holes, enforce staying on established trails etc. But no - you punish all for the actions of a few. Our forest rangers should be ashamed to enforce these new rules. This is not public service but controlling of the public. My hope is that if this persists - so many people stop going up north and all the stores and communities that rely on us for income start screaming about another job killing government idea. Our freedom is being taken one step at a time.

Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Article comment by: Randy Strickland

Please Mr. President- Send some of that famous stimulus money to 'our' Forest Service so that they can spend less time restricting us and more time on protecting trees and brush. I know that it's a value call to save our trees and yet give humans the right to 'chose' to end an unborn life. What a country!

Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Article comment by: Healthy Thymes

Would it not be easier for all the campers to line up on the hwy, so a ranger could escort each one to their assigned camping space? This would enable the Forest Service to have complete control over the public.

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