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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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10/2/2012 12:36:00 PM
Wild & Scenic: That's the limit
'Groover' and fire pan required on your adventures
Although largely dependent on seasonal flows, the number of kayakers, canoeists and rafters floating the Wild and Scenic portion of the Verde River has continued to grow. The low-flow season starts in late October when valley irrigation ditches turn their water back into the river and the high flow season starts if and when winter run off arrives.
Although largely dependent on seasonal flows, the number of kayakers, canoeists and rafters floating the Wild and Scenic portion of the Verde River has continued to grow. The low-flow season starts in late October when valley irrigation ditches turn their water back into the river and the high flow season starts if and when winter run off arrives.

Courtesy Coconino NFA directive issued last February requires boaters floating the wild and scenic portion of the Verde River south of Camp Verde to user a fire pan for all campfires and to pack out all solid human waste.
Courtesy Coconino NF

A directive issued last February requires boaters floating the wild and scenic portion of the Verde River south of Camp Verde to user a fire pan for all campfires and to pack out all solid human waste.

Steve Ayers
Staff Reporter


VERDE RIVER - Last February, the Coconino, Prescott and Tonto national forests collectively issued an order limiting the use of campfires and requiring the use of portable toilets within the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Verde River, downstream of Camp Verde.

But because the order came at the end of the last year's boating season, the agency is reissuing the directive again in hopes that kayakers, canoeists and rafters running the river between Beasley Flats and Red Creek will comply.

"Typically all rivers have some sort of permit system and leave-no-trace policy, whether it be the Grand Canyon, the San Juan or the Salt River. The Verde has just been a bit behind the times," says River Ranger Dexter Allen.

According to Allen, whose job is to manage the Wild and Scenic stretch, he and his volunteers remove about 3,000 pounds of trash every year and spend a good deal of their time ensuring that no trace is left behind.

"Last year we destroyed 52 fire rings along the river. Our hope is that the new regulations will take care of the problem and allow visitors to enjoy a wilderness experience where they felt like they are the first ones to visit," says Allen.

The order, which applies to the corridor within one-quarter mile of either side of the river, is intended to prevent wildfires and reduce the threat of contamination to the river from fecal coliform bacteria. Failure to adhere to the new regulations can result in fines.

Under the rules, boaters may have a campfire, provided no other fire restrictions are in place and any fires are contained within a fire pan. Fire pans must be at least 16 inches in diameter with a minimum three-inch lip.

Typically they are made from metal oil drain pans. A fire blanket beneath the pan is recommended. Gas camp stoves will also be permitted.

Portable toilets are required for handling solid human waste. The toilets, commonly referred to among boaters as "groovers," must be washable, reusable and adequate for the size of the group and the length of the trip.

According to Jennifer Burns, recreation supervisor for the Red Rock Ranger District, no permits are necessary for river runners at this time, but the idea is being discussed.

"Logistically it would be a challenge, but it also would be an ideal opportunity to share information between us and the boaters," says Burns.

The Wild and Scenic designation was placed on the 41-mile stretch of the river as part of the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984.

The Scenic portions covers 18.8 miles from Beasley Flat to the border of Mazatzal Wilderness Area. The Wild portion runs 22.2 miles from the wilderness border to the confluence of Red Creek.

Taylor Waste

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