Sportsman & Recreation Day on the Land

Sportsman & Recreation Day on the Land

July 14, 2018

Bar T Bar Ranch, Coconino National Forest

Our Annual Sportsman & Recreation Day on the Land was a little different this year: instead (or in addition) to focusing on hunters and anglers, we focused on recreation. Specifically, recreating on the Bar T Bar Ranch, via the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT), which crosses the ranch’s southern end.

The AZT is undergoing a Comprehensive Plan under the US Forest Service, who maintains the Trail alongside the AZ Trail Association and other partner organizations throughout the state. Part of the plan concerns management of the trail corridor, or the area of land next to the Trail. It is understandable to want to maintain a certain ‘environment’ for trail users, but a conflict arose around how big that corridor will be, and what will be permitted within that corridor: some of the proposed ideas for the buffer zone would disallow the ranches from maintaining their infrastructure, like cleaning tanks near the Trail or driving the cattle herd across it.

Fortunately, Diablo Trust is founded on collaboration and open dialogue, and that’s what this day was all about: an open discussion about the Trail and its use.

There were 16 attendees, including representatives from the AZ Trail Association, USFS, Diablo Trust, and the AZ Trailblazers, a citizen’s hiking group from Phoenix.

There were 16 attendees, including representatives from the AZ Trail Association, USFS, Diablo Trust, and the AZ Trailblazers, a citizen’s hiking group from Phoenix.

Judy Prosser (Bar T Bar Ranch) talking about the history of the area

We started the day with a short hike on the trail, on the Bar T Bar Ranch. After about two miles we stopped for a quick chat at a clearing overlooking a tributary of Jack’s Canyon.

When we returned to “base,” which was a clearing alongside FR 211, we launched into round-table introductions and then discussions about some issues and concerns different parties have about the others: the ranchers present (Bob and Judy Prosser of the Bar T Bar Ranch) enunciated their concerns about the Comprehensive Plan, and the various trail experts (Laura White from the USFS and Rob Mason and Shawn Redfield from the AZ Trail Association) responded, and then raised their own issues about ranch upkeep and activities.

Most of the attendees taking a short hike on the AZ Trail

Scott Green from the AZ Trailblazers talking about the history of his organization and their mission.

In all, it was a peaceful, productive day. It turned out that most of the concerns people had were simply misunderstandings, either because no conversation had been had, or because the language used in different documents was confusing or misleading.

There are still conversations going on between various parties to clear things up, and the Diablo Trust is taking a strong stance to ensure that the AZ Trail community and the ranching community continues to have healthy relationships. And we aren’t just speaking for the Diablo Trust ranches - we know that there are many ranches through which the AZ Trail crosses, and most of those ranches aren’t in partnerships like Diablo Trust. We hope to speak on their behalf, as well.