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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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3/26/2013 1:39:00 PM
USFS catches illegal trail builders

The Coconino National Forest has been experiencing a rash of illegal trails and responding with prosecution.

Two Sedona residents pleaded guilty this month to building illegal trails.

David Donohue, 40, pleaded guilty this month to building illegal mountain bike jumps and digging in an archaeological site near Beaverhead Flats. He was originally cited in October 2011.

He will pay $1,770 in restitution and serve one year of unsupervised probation. It cost the Forest Service $2,770 to restore the damaged area.

Jeff Harris, 39, also pleaded guilty this month to building a trail without authorization and damaging trees and other forest vegetation near the Coffee Pot area. He was originally cited in September 2012.

Harris agreed this month to pay $2,520 in restitution. He also got one year of unsupervised probation.

It cost the Forest Service $4,916 to restore the damage he caused.

Tyler Gavigan pleaded guilty in federal court in January to building illegal trails on the Red Rock Ranger District.

He was cited in September 2012 for building mountain bike jumps on a steep hill on national forest land near his home.

Gavigan will pay restitution of $500 to the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service spent at least $4,500 to restore the area. It required extensive rehabilitation to prevent further harm from soil erosion into nearby Oak Creek.

John Finch, 62, was banned from all national forests in Arizona and ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution in June 2012 after admitting to building and maintaining trails near Scheurman Mountain on the Coconino's Red Rock Ranger District.

And Gerald Griffin, 74, of the Village of Oak Creek, was banned from all national forests in Arizona for two years and ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution in April 2012 after admitting to building trails on the Coconino Forest near the VOC over a three-year period to "help trail users."

People caught building illegal trails 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 district asks anyone who observes unauthorized trail construction or maintenance to call 928-203-2900 to report it.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Hundreds of miles of new mountain bike trails

Yes this land is mine too and I don't want to see it trashed by the mountain biking community.

Hundreds of miles of new user-created trails have been built by bikers over the past 20 years or so in the Red Rock District. Their trails spider out all over and it's wrecking the place.

They are damaging the resource, causing erosion, destroying prehistoric Indian ruins, silting up Oak Creek from trail runoff, and building illegal trails into sensitive resource areas.

Illegal trail building is apparently organized at high levels in the mountain biking community, because they are advertised on the internet.

These people have more than enough opportunities to ride in the forest now. Limiting them to these trails and not allowing them to further damage the forest with off trail riding is the right thing to do.


Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Article comment by: Really? Wow.........

Maybe if they spent more time tending to trails then closing and policing trails this would not happen. The national forest has become very good at saving us from ourselves. This used to be a great place to recreate. Now you have to look over your shoulder with every step you take because the Coconino (not so) National Forest Staff is looking to site you. Tell me, who sites the forest service staff that drive in the closed Forest Service roads before they are open to the public to collect shed antlers? Double standards... Our government at work.

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land....

Opps! Not anymore! It belongs to the government now. I think a better resolution to the this would be to allow a mountain bike course to be built in one area of the forest, in conjunction and cooperation with the Forest Service. Any illegal trails built outside this area will be subject to prosecution.





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