August 17, 2014
13 years later, man
pays for Fossil Creek murder
The murder was in Yavapai County in
2001, but Mikhail Drachev and two other men were tried for
the murder in Maricopa County because that was where
21-year-old police informant Konstantin Simberg was
Friday, Drachev, the last, was ordered to prison for 37.5
years, his sentence from a plea
July 10, 2014
Coconino National Forest
Fossil Creek closure to be lifted
Flagstaff, Ariz. – The
area of Fossil Creek that has been closed due to extreme
fire danger since June 6 will be open Friday (July 11) at
The closure is being lifted due to
recent rains and higher humidity, which have changed
conditions for the area such that fire danger has lessened
and visitor access will be allowed.
Visitors are reminded that even
though gas stoves are allowed in the area, there is a
permanent ban on the use of campfires and charcoal in the
Fossil Creek area.
Additionally, on weekends vehicle
access is limited into Fossil Creek on Forest Road 708
from Camp Verde and to the Fossil Spring Trailhead parking
lot from Strawberry. Only a certain amount of vehicles
will be allowed entrance in order to keep roads clear for
emergency access and protect visitor health and safety.
For more information, call the Fossil Creek hotline at
July 7, 2014
Postponed Fossil Creek Meeting Will
Happen July 8
The Coconino and Tonto National
Forests has scheduled a previously postponed meeting on
Fossil Creek in Payson. The meeting will be held Tuesday,
July 8 at the Payson campus of Gila Community College. The
meeting is scheduled to run from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Fossil Creek Comprehensive River
Management Plan proposals have generated much interest and
controversy. Some characterize the proposed Plan as
"a plan to protect Fossil Creek by sharply
June 11, 2014
Camp Verde Bugle
Three options for
managing Fossil Creek
CAMP VERDE - It is an Arizona
treasure and no longer a best-kept secret. That is the impetus behind
the ongoing formation of a management plan for Fossil Creek.
Forest Service officials took feedback from many meetings with the
public and stakeholders to form options for supervising the favorite
outdoor area. They have now narrowed it all down to three alternatives
that they have taken back to the stakeholders to check for "red
flags," according to Red Rock District Ranger Nicole Branton.
June 9, 2014
Tonto National Forest
Public meeting on Fossil Creek Comprehensive River
Management Plan alternatives in Payson
5 PM, Monday, June 16 at Gila
Payson, Ariz. – The Coconino National Forest will
hold a public meeting on the Fossil Creek Comprehensive
River Management Plan (CRMP) in Payson on Monday (6/16) at
the Gila Community College, 201 North Mud Springs Road in
Payson. The three approved alternatives on how to manage
the Fossil Wild and Scenic River Corridor will be
presented to the public for review.
The meeting, 5 - 7 p.m. in the Community Room, Room
301, will begin with explanations of alternatives from
Forest representatives, a structured comment period which
guests can sign up for upon arrival, and an informal
breakout session encouraging the public to ask additional
questions with Forest representatives. Comment cards will
also be available at the meeting for guests to write
comments regarding the alternatives during this time.
More information including maps, explanation on how the
three alternatives were developed from the seven general
concepts the Forest received comments in 2013, email
address for electronically submitted comments, and a
summary of the three alternatives can be found on the Coconino
National Forest Fossil Creek CRMP website.
Thank you to Gila Community College for hosting this
Reminder: The Coconino and Tonto National Forests will
implement a closure of the Fossil Creek area on Friday
(6/6) at 8 a.m. in order to protect public health and
safety due to extreme fire conditions.
The closure area includes Fossil Creek, Fossil Springs,
Childs and the entire Fossil and Hackberry Mountain area,
which borders sections of the Verde River and state Route
260. The closure order and a detailed map of the closure
area are available online at http://tinyurl.com/mboajaz.
May 19, 2014
Town of Camp Verde
Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River
Congress designated Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic
River in spring 2009 to protect this river’s amazing
attributes for years to come. The Forest Service is
reviewing three alternatives for how to manage the Fossil
Wild and Scenic River Corridor, to review the three
alternatives and make your comments by mid-June click here.
May 11, 2014
Reminder: The road from Strawberry is closed until
April 15, 2015.
The Tonto National Forest reissued the closure order
for Forest Road 708 into Fossil Creek near Strawberry. The
road remains closed from 1/2 mile west of the upper Fossil
Springs trailhead and down into the canyon until
immediately east of the Waterfall trailhead. The order
will remain in effect from April 15, 2013 until April 15,
2015 or until rescinded. The Forest Service closure order
can be read here: 708
May 6, 2014
Coconino National Forest
Fossil Creek Road: Expect periodic weekend road
closures for public safety
Verde Valley, AZ – Beginning this weekend,
periodic closures may be implemented for Fossil Creek Road
(Forest Road 708) between the peak hours of 9:00 a.m. and
5:00 p.m. on high use weekends over the next several
months. Such periodic closures may be necessary to
address public safety due to Fossil Creek’s increased
popularity, excessive traffic, and limited parking
When the parking capacity is exceeded in the Fossil
Creek area, gridlocks occur which impede emergency vehicle
response and cause visitor traffic flow to come to a
standstill. With the high potential for public
safety ramifications, vehicle access into the area will be
limited to address this situation. This is especially
critical during the current high fire danger.
Closures would be located on Forest Road 708 three
miles west of Strawberry (west of Fossil Springs
Trailhead) and at the junction of State Route 260 and
Forest Road 708, north of Camp Verde. This affects
the Fossil Springs Trailhead as well as the Middle Fossil
and Childs areas. Visitors are urged to avoid Fossil
Springs Trailhead and the Fossil Creek area on these high
Camping and fire prohibitions remain in effect for the
area. For more information, please call the Fossil
Creek Hotline at 928-226-4611 or the Red Rock Ranger
District at 928-203-7500 or go to www.redrockcountry.org.
April 11, 2014
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
October 9, 2013
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
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
September 11, 2013
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
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.”
June 20, 2013
to be Limited at Fossil Springs Trailhead near Strawberry
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.
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.
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.
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.
can call a hotline to get the status of trailhead access:
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
additional information, visit the Coconino and Tonto
Information on Fossil Springs and the Fossil Creek area
can be found at www.redrockcountry.org/fossil
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.
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
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.
||Camp Verde, AZ, Sedona, AZ, Happy Jack, AZ and
||Red Rock District - 928-203-2900
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.
Coconino National Forest
Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive River Management
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:.
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.
Scoping Start 03/29/2011
Est. 215 Comment Period Legal Notice 03/2012
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
More information is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=27457
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
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
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
- 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
- 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