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Recreational Trails Program Highlight: Tonto Recreation Alliance's (TRĀL) Adopt-a-trail Program

TRĀL’s mission is to recruit, train, and coordinate a volunteer workforce to help the Tonto National Forest manage OHV recreation in the forest.

by Sue Crowe, RTP Database Coordinator, American Trails

photo credit: Arizona State Parks

TRAL volunteers performing trail maintenance

Covering nearly three million acres, the Tonto National Forest is the fifth largest forest in the country. It is also one of the most heavily used for motorized recreation. The forest provides over 3,000 miles of low-maintenance, level roads and motorized trails with tremendous recreation opportunities for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV). However, the U.S. Forest Service has an insufficient budget and staffing to monitor, sign, and maintain this amount of routes.

The Tonto Recreation Alliance (TRĀL) has been a non-profit partner of the Tonto National Forest since 2009. TRĀL’s mission is to recruit, train, and coordinate a volunteer workforce to help the Tonto manage OHV recreation in the forest. TRĀL applied for and received a grant from the Arizona State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Program in 2014 for developing an Adopt-a-trail (ADAT) program.

The Adopt-a-trail/OHV route monitoring program uses staff and volunteers to inspect OHV trails for issues such as erosion or trail blockages. Volunteers also install route markers and conduct light brushing and trash pickup. Funding extended this program for two additional years and allowed the completion of a first-time inspection of all of the OHV trails in the forest.

This grant extended and expanded the volunteer-based OHV trail maintenance program for two years. This included a more systematic approach to volunteer-based trail repair using data collected from the ADAT program, allowing the program to be extended into remote districts of the Tonto National Forest.

Funding was also used to expand TRĀL’s educational efforts by creating and installing OHV user maps on existing trailhead kiosks and You-Are-Here-style user maps throughout the forest. Funding also allowed TRĀL to pilot interpretive and trail etiquette signage installed in higher use areas of the forest, and to restart their OHV Host program, a traditional ambassador-style approach to meeting and helping OHV users in the field.

photo credit: Arizona State Parks
Mesa Ranger District Information Board

Mesa Ranger District Information Board

About the Author

Sue Crowe joined American Trails in September 2016 as the RTP Database Coordinator after retiring from a career in local government. Sue spent 15 years in fiscal operations and management, with 12 of those years as staff accountant to the Shasta County Regional Transportation Planning Agency. Sue worked extensively on programs in both motorized and non-motorized transportation, including administering grant programs such as Safe Routes to School and the Secure Rural Schools Act.

Sue volunteers at a local animal shelter where she helps to socialize shelter dogs like Honey in the photo. Sue also paints custom pet portraits on rocks and canvas. All proceeds help with special medical need shelter dogs.

Sue moved to Redding in 1987 after growing up in Trinidad, California. She and her husband, John, enjoy hiking with their dog and spending time at their house at Trinity Lake.

Contact: [email protected]

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