Fossil Creek

 

fossil springs

 

Fossil Creek beckons - As students and families anticipate warm weather each year and head for water during Spring Break, the Forest Service is helping visitors prepare for changes at Fossil Creek, one of Northern Arizona’s more popular swimming and camping sites.

The Coconino National Forest website describes it thus:

Fossil Creek, one of two "Wild and Scenic" rivers in Arizona, seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed - forming the fossils for which the area is named.



Fossil Creek is unique.  If you are going to Fossil Creek, the Forest Service wants you to know about new camping and campfire regulations that will affect your visit there. Specifically, to help protect Fossil Creek, beginning March 8, 2010, campfires will be prohibited throughout Fossil Creek and camping will be limited to certain areas away from the creek.

 

 

 

fossil creek

 

Big changes for Fossil Creek began in 2005 with the decommissioning of the Arizona Public Service Hydro-electric dam and the return of full flows to the creek. Then in 2009 Congress designated Fossil Creek as a National Wild and Scenic River. The Coconino and Tonto National Forests are working together to maintain and protect the area’s special values.

“Fossil Creek is incredibly beautiful and became popular really fast, so it’s no wonder that it’s being loved to death,” said Red Rock Ranger District Recreation Staff Officer Jennifer Burns. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing its beauty eroded from impacts of tens of thousands of visitors wanting to get close to the clear pools and lush vegetation.”

  

fossil creek

 

 Orvis

 

Restrictions on camping and campfires. See  [Forest Order and Map] and [Fossil Creek Restrictions Map]. For your convenience, a smaller image of the Fossil Creek Restrictions Map is printed below.

Also, see "Fossil Creek Wild & Scenic River", Coconino and Tonto National Forests River Management Plan Development.

 

fossil creek restrictions map

 

 

 

Sedona Arizona camping along the Verde River is possible in some locations. This is disbursed camping, as there are no developed campgrounds. Elevations along the Verde River in Verde Valley range from about 5,000 feet to about 3,000 feet.. 

 

 

 

Site Build It!

 

 

 

Officials say trees are being chopped down for firewood, human and pet waste is threatening water quality, streamside vegetation is being trampled as new trails are created and the ground is littered with waste, glass, trash and ash.

“We are very concerned about the threat of wildfire to the creek and nearby communities,” said Burns. “Last summer we put out over 200 abandoned campfires.”

As the Forest Service works with the public to create and implement a long-term Comprehensive River Management Plan, officials and volunteers will be on site informing visitors of current and anticipated changes in how the area is managed for recreation. “Until we get a long term plan worked out,” says Burns, “we have to stop the trashing of this treasure. We hope visitors understand these interim management changes are meant to buy us time.”

Because Fossil Creek is one of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in the State, the Forest Service will be including Fossil Creek in a national Respect the Rivers campaign to connect people to their riparian environments, return watersheds and rivers to a healthy state and call on the public to become stewards of such national treasures.

For a hundred years the creek and its surroundings was protected from overuse by the electric generating plant that used the creek's flowing waters to generate electricity. Arizona Public Service Company, owner of the power plant recognized the uniqueness of the creek and deliberately worked to minimize the impact of plant facility and operations. The company voluntarily removed their facilities and turned control of the area over to the Forest Service.

 

fossil creek childs-irving power plant

 

 

 

Fossil Creek is located in the lower Verde Valley, near where the Coconino National Forest meets both the Tonto National Forest, and the Prescott National Forest. The map below illustrates the area's highways, roads, and features.

 

fossil creek area map

 

TigerDirect Best Sellers

 

Fossil Creek gage is in and running as of September 14, 2011. You can see the data on the USGS web site.

  

Fossil Creek News and Information

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April 11, 2014

Payson Roundup

 

A World Hidden In The Tremble Of Cottonwood Leaves

 

Spring brings explosion of green in trees whose genetics affect thousands of species

 

Suddenly, the cottonwoods have their leaves back.

The giant, fast-growing trees dominate great stretches of the East Verde River and other streams fed by springs in the face of the Mogollon Rim, including lower Tonto Creek, Fossil Creek, Clear Creek and others.

The giant poplars go glorious gold in the fall, and then shed their heart-shaped, quivering leaves in the winter, to prevent frost damage. Waiting for the right combination of light and warmth, they awaken in the spring to unleash an outburst of luminous green leaves. Studies show that this prodigious burst of growth has created the most productive habitat in North America, as measured by biomass and species diversity. These river bound ribbons of green serve as the migratory highway for most North American songbirds and play a crucial role in the life cycle of hosts of animal and insect species.

Read more

 

 

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March 18, 2014

Coconino National Forest

 

Glass Containers Banned Along Oak Creek and Fossil Creek

 

SEDONA, Az – The Coconino National Forest is implementing a prohibition on glass food and beverage containers on federal lands near Oak Creek and Fossil Creek, two popular public swimming areas. This ban will be in effect beginning April 1, 2014. Broken glass containers are to blame for cut feet and litter in many locations along these two streams. This prohibition will enhance health and safety and reduce hazardous waste in the stream corridor.

Along Oak Creek near Sedona, glass containers are prohibited on Forest land within 300 feet of the edge of Oak Creek except within designated picnic and campgrounds or within a motor vehicle. This prohibition extends from Red Rock Crossing upstream through Oak Creek Canyon to Pumphouse Wash.

For Fossil Creek, glass containers are prohibited within the entire Wild and Scenic River area ¼ mile on either side of Fossil Creek from the Fossil Springs area downstream to below Stehr Lake. This includes portions of the Coconino and the Tonto national forests. Visitors may have glass containers within their vehicle.

Forest visitors are encouraged to abide by the prohibition so that the stream corridor is safer for everyone. Visitors should bring alternate types of containers with them if they are picnicking stream-side. The prohibition will be posted at all bulletin boards and entry areas. Per Title 16 36 CFR 261.50 (a) and/or (b), violation of this Order is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both.

Contact the Red Rock Ranger District at (928)-203-2900 or for additional information.

 

 

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February 10, 2014

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office

 

Fatal Traffic Accident Incident

 

PRELIMINARY INFORMATION - On February 8, 2014, just before 6 PM, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a traffic accident on Fossil Creek Road, approximately 19 miles from Highway 260, in Camp Verde. A 2001 white Isuzu Rodeo SUV was found about 100 feet from the dirt road down along a hillside. Camp Verde Fire personnel were already on scene and indicated a 30-yearold female, identified as Stephanie Steele, had been pronounced dead. A 36-year-old male, identified as William Jordon, was being treated by paramedics. William indicated Stephanie was his wife and driver of the vehicle. They reside in Phoenix.

Read more

 

 

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November 16, 2013

Payson Roundup

 

Flurry Of Eagles

 

Photo by DJ Craig

 

As volunteers and biologists labor to safeguard Arizona’s population of bald eagles, the legal battles about their future continue.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reports that an increasing number of bald eagles have established territories in and around Rim Country, including nesting territories on several Rim lakes along Tonto Creek and the Verde River. Biologists hope that the eagles will establish nesting territories on other high country lakes, Fossil Creek and additional stretches of Tonto Creek and the Verde River.

This year, Game and Fish posted nestwatchers at 10 or 15 breeding areas with heavy recreational traffic. Studies suggest that since 1983 the nestwatchers have saved at least one chick annually, increasing production by about 7 percent — a significant edge for a small population

Read more

 

 

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October 9, 2013

Payson Roundup

 

Fossil Creek: A Fragile Ark

 

Fossil Creek has become a world-class refuge for wildlife — a veritable Noah’s ark for rare and endangered species both above and below the turquoise-blue waters of the travertine-laden creek.

The Forest Service hearings in Rim Country focused on management plans drew lots of people upset with the threat to permanently shut down access to the creek from Strawberry. Most of those protesters either wanted to have access to the spring-fed creek with its miles of waterfalls and deep pools — or make money from the roughly 90,000 people annually who descend on the creek on the weekends.

But the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Resource Assessment makes it clear just what an extraordinary refuge for fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians that creek has become in the seven years since Arizona Public Service shut down a historic hydroelectric generating plant and returned the flow of water to the creek bed.

Read more

 

 

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September 11, 2013

Payson Roundup

 

Fossil Creek Lovers Speak Out

 

Forest Service concepts draw mostly bad reviews at overflow Pine meeting

 

Confronted with more than 100 mostly irate citizens, U.S. Forest Service rangers and planners stressed that they don’t really want to slam the Fossil Creek door on Rim Country.

Although none of the seven management concepts displayed on maps adorning the room in Pine featured a reopened Fossil Creek Road, Forest Service officials insisted the final plan might improve rather than restrict access to the popular creek from Payson.

“We don’t want to shut it away,” said Dean Jones, the director of communications for the Fossil Creek planning effort. “We want people to recreate in Fossil Creek. The final decision hasn’t been made. The reason we’re having the public meeting is to hear ideas.”

Read more

 

 

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June 20, 2013

Coconino National Forest

 

Parking to be Limited at Fossil Springs Trailhead near Strawberry

 

SEDONA, Ariz. – A parking limit will be enforced on high visitor use days at the Fossil Springs Trailhead near Strawberry, Arizona, in order to ensure public safety and emergency access. This parking limit will be enforced at periods of high use, typically Friday through Sunday and on holidays in summer months.

Visitation to the Fossil Springs area has spiked in the last year to record numbers. Parking issues have arisen that threaten visitor safety due to vehicle congestion that prevents emergency vehicle access.  Similar to the situation on Forest Road 708 along Fossil Creek, the Forest Service will be implementing a program to limit parking to a number that allows for emergency evacuation in case of fire and for access of ambulance and fire trucks.

On Memorial Day Weekend there were over 100 vehicles parked at the trailhead designed for 30. More than 400 people hiked down the Fossil Springs Trail. Many were unprepared for the arduous hike in high temperatures. Pine-Strawberry Fire District typically conducts one rescue a weekend for heat related injuries.

The Forest Service will have a visitor contact station set up on the FR708 near Strawberry to give information about the area and to monitor the parking lot situation. Visitors can expect that the trailhead parking lot will be full early in the day and they should have back-up weekend plans that involve other, less crowded areas.

Visitors can call a hotline to get the status of trailhead access: 928-226-4611

The Coconino and Tonto national forests are currently preparing a management plan for the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River. For more information and to comment, please go here.

For additional information, visit the Coconino and Tonto websites, www.fs.usda.gov/coconino  and www.fs.usda.gov/tonto. Information on Fossil Springs and the Fossil Creek area can be found at www.redrockcountry.org/fossil

 

 

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May 11, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Fossil Springs Wilderness

 

Fossil Springs Wilderness is the home of Fossil Creek and a beautiful, diverse riparian eco-system. The area attracts numerous visitors at times, prompting concern that people are "loving it to death" in their desire to experience the unique beauty of the canyon.

The Coconino National Forest website describes the wilderness this way...

This 11,550 acre Wilderness boasts what has been described as the most diverse riparian area in Arizona. Over thirty species of trees and shrubs and over a hundred species of birds have been observed in this unique habitat. The stream seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed - forming the fossils for which the area is named.

Most people come to Fossil Creek to sunbathe, wade, hike and birdwatch. It's also a great place to take photographs. The lushness of the riparian area strikes a sharp contrast to the brittle desert that surrounds it. While you're here, keep an eye out for javelina. These collie dog-sized wild pigs are plentiful in the area.

Open Season: Year 'round
Usage: Medium
Closest Towns: Camp Verde, AZ, Sedona, AZ, Happy Jack, AZ and Strawberry, AZ
Operated By: Red Rock District - 928-203-2900

General Information

Directions:

Location: About 30 miles southeast of Camp Verde or 86 miles south of Flagstaff off paved and graveled roads. A portion of Forest Road 708 is closed from Fossil Springs Trailhead to Waterfall Trailhead until further notice. This closure is in effect to provide public health and safety.

Access: From Camp Verde via FH 9 (Hwy 260) and FR 708 or from Strawberry on FR 708 to Fossil Springs Trailhead.

 

 

Photos & Multimedia

 

 

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June 4, 2012

SoFA Staff

Coconino National Forest

 

Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive River Management Plan

 

Since Fossil Creek was open to the public, "it is being "loved to death" according to those that have seen the "before and after" conditions in the Fossil Creek area. These people have asked the Forest Service to provide more protection to this unique and beautiful stream and its surroundings.

The Forest Service is currently in the planning phase of developing a Comprehensive River Management Plan for Fossil Creek under the authority established by the  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The National Environmental Policy Act was the first major environmental law in the United States. The environmental review process under NEPA provides an opportunity for the public to be involved in the Federal agency decision-making process. NEPA requires Federal agencies to consider environmental effects that include, among others, impacts on social, cultural, and economic resources, as well as natural resources.

The current status report for this NEPA project states:. 

Purpose:
Creation of a Comprehensive River Management Plan for Fossil Creek as described in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The project is on both the Coconino National Forest and the Tonto National Forest.

Progress:
Scoping Start 03/29/2011
Est. 215 Comment Period Legal Notice 03/2012
Decision expected Expected:08/2012

Location:
Fossil Creek (Wild and Scenic River Portions) - Red Rock District of the Coconino National Forest and Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest

Forests: Coconino National Forest, Tonto National Forest

Project Documents

More information is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=27457 

 

 

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April 23, 2012

SoFA Staff

 

Fossil Creek Protections

 

 

For a hundred years Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and its predecessors restricted access to much of Fossil Creek They respected and protected the fragile environment and natural beauty of the area. At the same time they modified and redirected the creek's flowing waters to generate renewable hydroelectric power.

At the request of environmental groups, APS agreed to give up its rights to this cheap source of renewable energy, remove all power generating infrastructure, and return the area to its natural condition, working with state and federal agencies.

Now Fossil Creek is open to the public, and according to Forest Service officials, being "loved to death." The Forest Service has struggled with limited resources to protect the area from abuse and overuse.

Beginning in May of 2012, adequate resources and controls will be put in place to help limit overcrowding, trash, human waste, and danger of wildfire.

Kevin Lehto, recreation specialist for the Coconino National Forest, and Dexter Allen, wild and scenic river ranger for three national forests, are quoted in a Verde Independent news story as saying "The agency has received a grant that will allow it to put up to 10 full-time staff members on the ground at Fossil Creek."

"We have a continuing problem with grid lock. We have public health and safety issues. And the fragile environment in the area is being damaged. This year we will have the resources, and a plan in place to address all those."

The controls being put in place include:

    • Road 708, the main thoroughfare through the creek, will remain closed between Fossil Springs Trailhead, at the top of the hill outside Strawberry, and the Waterfall Trailhead at the bottom off the hill.
    • A new gate, placed between Fossil Creek Bridge and the Homestead campsite, will be manned by Forest Service staff, who will limit the number of vehicles upstream of the gate to 80 at a time
    • There will be a 40-space parking area at Homestead for overflow parking. The entire Fossil Creek area is open to pedestrian traffic
    • Forest Service personnel, including law enforcement officers, will patrol Road 708 seven days a week. Personnel will also monitor Fossil Springs and the Fossil Springs Trail
    • The Forest Service will have a hotline, (928) 226-4611, for visitors to call so they can check the parking status along the creek area.
    • Once parking has reached its maximum, visitors will be directed to other sites. If the entire area is full, they will be notified at the intersection of State Route 260 and Road 708
    • There will be signs posted on the way in along Road 708, where cell phone service is available, encouraging visitors to call and get a recorded message regarding parking status. A Twitter site is also being established to get information to visitors
    • No campfires will be permitted anywhere in Fossil Creek. Gas and propane stoves are permitted

 

 

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February 28, 2012

Coconino National Forest  

 

Portion of Fossil Creek Road (FR. 708) closure order extended until next year

Payson, Ariz. (February 28, 2012) – Tonto and Coconino National Forest officials announced today that a portion of Fossil Creek Road (Forest Road 708) will remain closed until next year.

The road is closed from 1/2 mile west of the Fossil Creek entrance to the Upper Fossil Springs Trailhead extending west and down canyon to immediately east of the Waterfall Trailhead (old Flume Trail Trailhead). 

The original temporary closure began last November.

Forest officials have decided to extend this closure order in order to find solutions to the ongoing rock slides on FR 708, requiring temporary closures for repair, and to better manage the gridlock traffic conditions at Fossil Creek due to the exponential increase in recreational use over the past several years. 

Access will continue to be available from the Camp Verde side off Highway 260; however, forest staff plan to limit access into Fossil Creek during high-use periods.  Forest officials will be closing and staffing FR 708 on the Coconino/Camp Verde side as the area becomes saturated with vehicular traffic.  A signing plan is being developed to direct public access and will be implemented as soon as possible.

“Five years ago, the summer season (Memorial Day – Labor Day) figures were approximately 20,000 visitors per year.  Now there are approximately 90,000 visitors per season,” stated Angie Elam, Payson district ranger.  “It results in a gridlock during high visitor use that makes emergency responses challenging or impossible.  The gridlock threatens the health and safety of everyone.  We need to figure out how to make this a safe and enjoyable recreation experience for our visitors and our employees who work there.”

Forest officials continue to assess the safety and maintenance issues of Forest Road 708 on the Tonto (Strawberry area) side due to ongoing rock slides.   “Any time there’s moisture, this road becomes unstable.  This is an ongoing safety issue due to the unpredictable condition of the road.  More studies are needed to address this threat to public health and safety which will be included in the Comprehensive River Management Plan that should be finished in the next year,” continued Elam.

A final determination for management of FR 708 on the Tonto side will be made through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process currently underway.  For information on the status and progress of this analysis you may refer to the following link:  http://redrockcountry.org/fossil/index.shtml   Completion of the NEPA process is expected this fall.

For further information, please contact the Payson Ranger District administrative office at 928-474-7900.  The closure order is available on the Tonto National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 10, 2012

Coconino National Forest

 

Changes in Fossil Creek Area

fossil springs and fossil creek

 

As students and families anticipate warm weather and head for water during Spring Break, the Forest Service is helping visitors prepare for changes at Fossil Creek, one of Northern Arizona’s more popular swimming and camping sites.

If you are going to Fossil Creek, the Forest Service wants you to know about new camping and campfire regulations that will affect your visit there. Specifically, to help protect Fossil Creek, beginning March 8, 2010, campfires will be prohibited throughout Fossil Creek and camping will be limited to certain areas away from the creek.

Big changes for Fossil Creek began in 2005 with the decommissioning of the Arizona Public Service Hydro-electric dam and the return of full flows to the creek. Then in 2009 Congress designated Fossil Creek as a National Wild and Scenic River. The Coconino and Tonto National Forests are working together to maintain and protect the area’s special values.

“Fossil Creek is incredibly beautiful and became popular really fast, so it’s no wonder that it’s being loved to death,” said Red Rock Ranger District Recreation Staff Officer Jennifer Burns. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing its beauty eroded from impacts of tens of thousands of visitors wanting to get close to the clear pools and lush vegetation.”

Officials say trees are being chopped down for firewood, human and pet waste is threatening water quality, streamside vegetation is being trampled as new trails are created and the ground is littered with waste, glass, trash and ash.

“We are very concerned about the threat of wildfire to the creek and nearby communities,” said Burns. “Last summer we put out over 200 abandoned campfires.”

As the Forest Service works with the public to create and implement a long-term Comprehensive River Management Plan, officials and volunteers will be on site informing visitors of current and anticipated changes in how the area is managed for recreation. “Until we get a long term plan worked out,” says Burns, “we have to stop the trashing of this treasure. We hope visitors understand these interim management changes are meant to buy us time.”

Because Fossil Creek is one of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in the State, the Forest Service will be including Fossil Creek in a national Respect the Rivers campaign to connect people to their riparian environments, return watersheds and rivers to a healthy state and call on the public to become stewards of such national treasures.

Visit "Fossil Creek Wild & Scenic River" management plan development page.

Fossil Creek gage is in and running as of Sept. 14. You can see the data on the USGS web site.

 

 

 

Hotwire

  

fossil creek flows

 

Fossil Creek is a treasure to be experienced and used with restraint. A Google search using a keyword phrase such as fossil creek history, childs-irving decommissioning information, childs-irving power plant history, or fossil creek az will lead you to additional resources. Be sure to notice the relevant ads down the right side... those are resources also. 

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