Sedona AZ (March 7, 2013) – Two Sedona residents in Federal Magistrate Court on Tuesday pled guilty to criminal violations for unauthorized trail construction on the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest.
David Donohue, 40, was originally cited in October 2011 for construction of mountain bike jumps and also digging in and disturbing an archeological site on national forest land in Sedona near Beaverhead Flats.
In a separate and unrelated case, Jeff Harris, 39, was originally cited in September 2012 for constructing a trail without authorization and damaging trees and other forest products on national forest land in Sedona near the Coffee Pot area.
Both unauthorized construction included removal and clearing of a large area of native plants and soil. Consequently, the sites require extensive restoration to prevent further harm from soil erosion and to restore the natural contours and plants to the area.
Though the total cost for restoration in Donohue’s case amounted to $2,770, Donohue will pay restitution of $1,770 to the U.S. Forest Service and was placed on one year of unsupervised probation. Harris was also placed on one year of unsupervised probation and will pay restitution of $2,520. The total cost of restoration to the area affected by Harris was $4,916.
Costs of restoration typically include archeological and recreation assessments, the actual cost of plants and man hours necessary to restore the area to its previous condition.
In the past year, the Forest Service has convicted three other individuals for similar offenses of unauthorized trail construction on national forest land near Sedona.
Individuals who are caught face a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or six months in jail. In addition, there can be restitution, probation and banning from the national forest.
The Red Rock Ranger District considers unauthorized trail construction a serious issue due to the sensitive nature of the area’s resources. Red Rock country contains high densities of archaeological remains and highly sensitive soils prone to erosion. The district asks that anyone who observes unauthorized trail construction or maintenance call Forest Service Law Enforcement at 928-527-3509 to report it.
The Forest Service is to be commended for continuing to pursue these illegal wildcat trail builders in the National Forest, even during these times of reduced federal funding. I urge the USFS to close down all illegally built trails, instead of adopting these trails into the trail system as has been done in the past. The fines in these cases are so low; that illegal trail building will continue until more aggressive measures are taken that send a stronger message to those engaged in these blatantly unlawful activities. Permanently closing down all illegally built trails would send that message.
In any case, good job Forest Service!
Most of the trails you walk on were illegally built Ron, later on the USFS absorbed them because everyone liked them and used them; so what you are proposing is ludicrous. We have the best trails in the world due to mountain bikers.
To create a trail legally all you have to do is walk or ride in the same spot repeatedly.
Bikers keep building trails because the trails they build are taken over, made wider, horses use them and rut them up, and the hikers want them and don’t want bikes on “their trails” so in an attempt to get away from everyone else they built another trail! There is no winning until bikes get bike only trails and I doubt that will ever happen.
You also have no idea what the USFS has been doing to violate the rights of Sedona citizens, including threatening the use of force by thugs wearing flack jackets and guns and throwing elderly people in their 80’s to the ground and arresting them for walking across concession land without paying a fee, when in fact no fees are required to cross that land.
I am an active citizen who is all about protecting the innocent. That’s what I focus on. This includes protecting innocent species of wildlife and natural resources that are being decimated by man’s activities, innocent women being sexually assualted by brutal individuals, innocent children being mistreated and abused by parents, innocent consumers being scammed by vendors, etc.
If the USFS is engaged in the kind of activities you mention, I would be an active citizen against the USFS’s abuse of innocent vitims. Can you provide a link or other information so that I can get involved?
BTW—I would totally favor bike-only trails that are properly planned and constructed so as not to have unacceptable environmental impact in this very sensitive ecosystem we are prvileged to occupy in Sedona. I don’t think that digging up plants that take 50-100 years to grow, and disturbing archaelogical sites qualifies as acceptable impact.