Trails don’t fix themselves after wildfires. Rehabilitating trails is often a cooperative effort of many organizations, non-profits, volunteers and professional trail engineers.
In October 2020, the Sears Fire scorched 14,476 acres of land a few miles northeast of Cave Creek in the Tonto National Forest. That area contained one of our favorite stretches of the Maricopa Trail, a 317-mile loop around the Valley that connects all ten county regional parks. The Bronco-Granite Mountain segment 22b was in need of some major repair and that’s where Ernie Wieber and a volunteer team of ACE (American Conservation Experience) crew members from Flagstaff stepped in.
Immediately after the last flames were put out, Wieber and volunteers began a multi-week stretch of hard labor to repair and restore parts of the trail where vegetation had been engulfed and destroyed by wildfire. Paths that once relied on native plants and trees to absorb run-off moisture and avoid erosion from storms no longer had that as an option, so Wieber’s team rebuilt and reinforced key areas of the trail with massive boulders. Using hundreds of pounds of rocks, the team was able to create strategic areas of drainage that will allow the Maricopa Trail to live on for generations to come.
Watch our video above to see specifics examples of the work that was done and why their jobs are so important for the rest of us to maintain the outdoor lifestyle we all enjoy as Arizonans.
MORE ABOUT THE MARICOPA TRAIL
While the core 315-mile route is complete, the trail continues to evolve with plans underway to extend it to the future Vulture Mountain Recreation area near Wickenburg.