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Forest closures as of Feb. 11

Coconino National Forest officials reopened two sections of the forests north of Flagstaff to provide recreational access to the Fort Valley trail system and the Weatherford trail. 

While areas of the Dry Lake Hills remain closed due to helicopter logging operations, the Coconino National Forest is opening up some small areas of Schultz Pass making some areas of the San Francisco Peaks accessible.

Last month, the agency closed a large portion of the national forests north of Flagstaff while logging operations are underway in order to keep the public safe.

However, the Coconino National Forest is reopening two small sections of forest to the north and west of the logging operations to increase recreational access, according to a National Forest press release.

To the southwest of the closed area, a section of the Schultz Pass Road (Forest Road 420) is now open from its intersection with Elden Lookout Road (Forest Road 557), to provide access to the Fort Valley Trail System via Chimney Trail.

Forest Road 743 will also be open to provide non-motorized access, temporarily rerouting the Arizona Trail, at the north end of the closure to the Waterline, Weatherford and Secret Trails.

“We know how important these trails are to the community,” Matt McGrath, Flagstaff District Ranger, said “We are committed to working collaboratively to minimize impacts of the closure, and will continue to reduce the closure area as soon as operations allow.”

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Heavy equipment and truck traffic will be present on Schultz Pass Road, Elden Lookout Road and U.S. Highway 180. The public is restricted from entering the closure area so helicopter logging and forest thinning operations can be conducted safely, according to the National Forest.

Helicopter operations are expected to conclude at the end of April, at which point the closure may be updated to restore more recreational access. Ground operations will continue through the summer and will require areas to remain closed for an extended period of time.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of no more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations and/or imprisonment for not more than six months.

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Adrian Skabelund can be reached at the office at askabelund@azdailysun.com, by phone at (928) 556-2261 or on Twitter @AdrianSkabelund.

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