Back in December I wrote about a project in Cave Creek, AZ to create a family friendly riding area at a spot that historically had little management and lacked facilities. This lead to a proliferation of user- created trails, sanitation issues, and resource degradation near the staging area.

Recently work began to start managing the area and create a family friendly destination. This effort began by partnering with the Tonto National Forest and Tonto Recreation Alliance (TRAL), and RecConnect LLC by conducting complimentary OHV “Tech Checks” several weekends before the staging area was set to be temporarily closed. The idea of these tech checks was to educate riders on forthcoming improvements to the area, when the staging area was going to be closed, and what kind of requirements there were legally ride on the trails. This included a USFS approved spark arrestor, 96DBA sound threshold per MIC standards, and an Arizona OHV decal on their license plates. If the riders met these requirements, they received a Wildcat OHV Tech Check Decal.

It’s important to note that these tech checks were not enforcement action by the USFS but instead were a way to get riders legally compliant before enforcement of the laws begin in the area.

After the tech checks were conducted the staging area was temporarily closed so work could begin on rehabilitation and restoration on the hillsides surrounding the staging area. The American Conservation Experience (ACE) was contracted to do the first phase of work at the site. ACE is a non-profit Conservation Corps organization that offers scholarships to young adults who wish to be stewards of the lands by participating in environmental projects, such as the Wildcat project. ACE work in eight-day hitches, 10 hours each day. It’s a tough job but they are a hearty and enthusiastic bunch.

This was also my first opportunity to utilize NOHVCC’s new Drone to capture photos and videos of a project from its inception and eventual completion. This technology is highly valued by both the land managers and users as it shows progress as it happens and gives a unique perspective of the area. The before and after shots should be stunning. Check out some of the footage below.

The next phase of the Wildcat project should really get the riders excited as it will include a Tot-Lot, skills area, loading ramps, and facilities. Along with some new trails!

This project would not be possible without funding from the Arizona State Parks and Trails administered OHV Decal Program and the years of hard work and planning that the Tonto Recreation Alliance, volunteers and enthusiasts have conducted with the Tonto National Forest.

You can learn more about TRAL and ACE at their websites:

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