Photo Courtesy Blain Brown: The seasonal gate closure on Mount Graham at milepost 136 of State Route 366 has been extended due to heavy precipitation damage during the winter and spring seasons. This picture shows the winter wonderland during November 2019 along West Peak.
By Jon Johnson
MOUNT GRAHAM – While the seasonal closure of Mount Graham’s gate on State Route 366 (Swift Trail) at milepost 136 is normally scheduled to reopen today, April 15, the gate will remain closed to vehicular traffic.
According to U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Heidi Schewel, high levels of precipitation during the winter and spring seasons has impacted the roads beyond the gate, necessitating repair.
“Clearing and stabilization work is needed to return them to a passable condition,” Schewel wrote in a news release. “Motorized vehicle travel on these routes at this time is potentially unsafe and could cause additional damage to the roads.”
The area above the gate is open for dispersed recreation and non-vehicular access, according to the release.
Most of the Coronado National Forest is open and to dispersed recreational activities that promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hiking, biking, picnicking, and scenic driving.
The Coronado National Forest recommends the following tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while visiting the forest.
· Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
· Follow Arizona state public health orders and CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest.
· If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also, consider avoiding the forest during peak-use periods.
· Stay at least six feet away from other visitors and follow state guidance regarding group size.
· Trash receptacles at some sites are not going to be emptied. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators. Please pack all your trash out with you all the way home and dispose of it there.
· Please use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. When you see that a restroom is closed, please do not deposit your solid wastes outside or surrounding the restrooms. If necessary, bury human waste at least six to eight inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites to prevent health hazards to our employees and for other visitors.