Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald – Mount Graham
I am a founding member of the Gila Valley Hiking Club. Why? Because I wanted to explore Mount Graham and all its nooks and crannies. Since 2015, we have helped maintain trails. We have helped with erosion control. We have helped the Forest Service obtain grants that provided new signage.
On our last hike on the Clark Peak Trail, we informed our newcomers that there was a restroom just before the trailhead. What a surprise it was when we got there and it had been razed! There was nothing there except the corrals.
More recently, I stopped at the Round the Mountain Trailhead to use the restroom. It, also, has been razed! The picnic tables were still there. The corrals were still there.
I truly do not know what the Forest Service was thinking! People camp at these places. There were accommodations for them. Now, we will be finding feces and toilet paper in our picnic areas and on our trails. Very few people actually use shovels to bury their leavings.
The sign, as you are leaving the mountain, says that the Coronado National Forest is a “Land of Many Uses.” It very much feels like the Forest Service is not living up to its advertisement. Since the last fire, there has been very little effort to restore trails. The Hiking Club has done as much if not more to restore trails. Now, they are removing facilities for public use and sanitation. Will picnic tables be the next thing to go? I can sit on the ground to eat my lunch, but I much preferred using a restroom when on Mount Graham. It almost feels like the Forest Service is trying to discourage the usage of Mount Graham.
The mountain is one of the best things the Gila Valley has to offer. Public use of it should not be discouraged, it should be enhanced.
Monika Ragland – Safford