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Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Location: Chandler AZ

PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:35 pm    Post subject: AZ.. CHAROULEAU GAP ROAD COULD CLOSE! Reply with quote



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.

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 1990ís the Gap road closed because it crossed a ĺ 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, OHVerís, 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.

That 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 they are interested in purchasing. This has been done by the Coronado Forest Service. But the State Land Department does not want to accept the appraisal that the Forest Service did, they want one done to their standards. The Arizona State Land Department standards are not clear and could change.

Agencies must follow the rules that the Coronado Forest Service did the appraisal by. This is how the appraisal was made and submitted.

If this appraisal isnít accepted 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 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 generating 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.

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
Rob B
Daily Driven 4.5" W/some cool stuff and Things.
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