Fossil Creek Comprehensive River Management Plan

Fossil Creek

The Coconino and Tonto National Forests are home to the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River, known for its beautiful clear waters; magnificent fossil- like rock deposits called travertine formation; and diverse native fish, plants, and animals.

The nearly 17-mile-long river is located in central Arizona, approximately 100 miles from Phoenix.

Congress designated Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River (WSR) in spring 2009, to protect this river’s amazing attributes for years to come.

This designation included approximately 16.8 miles from the confluence of Sand Rock and Calf Pen Canyons to the confluence with the Verde River. (Wild: 9.3 miles; Recreational: 7.5 miles)

For more information about WSR designations and what this means, visit National, Wild & Scenic River Background

Fossil Creek Hotline:  Call (928) 226-4611


Just out!

Three alternatives for how to manage the Fossil Wild and Scenic River Corridor, have been approved and are available for public review.  In the fall of 2013, we presented 7 general concepts and received substantial public feedback.  These 3 alternatives were developed in response to the comments we received on the 7 concepts.  So, feel free to review the documents below and comment by mid-June.  Substantive comments are: specific, comparative, or solution oriented; provide factual information or informed judgment relevant to the alternatives and any issues; provides the reasons why you are suggesting a change;  and goes beyond just expressing an opinion or providing edits.   Email your comments to us at  If comments are sent as an attachment to the email message please submit them in Microsoft Word (MS-Word), using a common font such as “Times”.

Fossil CRMP alternative documents:

  1. Summary_Alternatives -This document summarizes the three action alternatives: Retention of Current Character, Non-motorized Experience, and Motorized Use and Refugia.
  2. Final Comparison Tables – a quick glance summary of the differences between the three action alternatives
  3. FC-Capacity-Matrix – this document shows the proposed capacity and infrastructure by rec site and by alternative. 
  4. Alt A-Hillshade – Map of alternative A
  5. Alt B-Hillshade – Map of alternative B
  6. Alt C-Hillshade – Map of alternative C
  7. GeoTechnical Report - Conceptual Remedial Strategies

Note that the maps are big!  But they provide good detail when printed to 11X17. 


Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP)

The Forest Service has a legislative mandate to develop a CRMP for Fossil Creek. The two national forests are working together to determine the best ways to protect and enhance the values for which the river was designated without limiting uses that don’t interfere with those values.

Fossil CreekImportance

This plan provides a foundation for future river management guidance and direction by establishing Forest Service policies to protect and improve the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River for future generations. The CRMP will describe management direction, address site-specific issues, and identify actions to help care for the river corridor.

Planning Activities

The forests will analyze existing conditions along Fossil Creek to evaluate special characteristics called Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORV) and prescribe management designed to protect those values, free-flow conditions, and water quality. With help from the public, the forests will develop a Proposed Action and begin environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Fossil Creek Public Comment Period
Pivotal Public Involvement

We will need your help as we plan for the future at Fossil Creek and work on this CRMP.  Stewardship of the newly designated WSR requires balancing needs to protect and enhance the special values and to provide for outdoor recreation opportunities at Fossil Creek.  Managers will consider input from the public as they look at different opportunities which may include fees, permits or campgrounds to help create a sustainable WSR experience that meets the needs and expectations of our Forest visitors.

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Next Steps and Current Management of the Area

The Fossil Creek CRMP is scheduled to be completed in 2013. Once finalized, the plan may include changes to the Forest Plan(s), which would be amended.

Interim Management intended to protect the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River until a final Comprehensive River Management Plan is in place have been enacted at Fossil Creek, which includes the following: