Employees pitch in to return a rogue motorized trail back to nature

Story by Sean Golightly



An archaeologist, an office manager, and a firefighter all walk into the woods.  No, it’s not a joke. It’s an annual Coconino National Forest Flagstaff Ranger District work day, where employees from all walks of the Forest Service are invited to get their hands dirty.  No joke, but there is a punchline: stuff gets done.


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On August 16th, 2017, employees permanent and seasonal, from offices of the Flagstaff Ranger District and Supervisor, congregated on National Forest near the Mountainaire community south of Flagstaff. Led by Brian Poturalski, head of the Flagstaff Ranger District Recreation department, able hands divided into teams charged with the naturalization of a rogue motor trail as well as the construction of new infrastructure.

The process of naturalization involves laying pine needles, downed wood, and other material over scars in the landscape.  More than just a cover-up, layering organic material in this manner invites new plant growth and helps restore damaged area to a natural state.  On this particular site, illegal off-roading gouged the forest floor into dire need of restoration.  But not for long!

While some employees got sap-sticky unloading truckloads of pinewood for naturalization, others donned power-drills, chainsaws, and post drivers. In order to prevent further destruction, crews installed logworm fencing around the closed area, signs to explain the closure, and a new gate along the official entrance road.

"All of this," explains Poturalski, "is to improve the area so we that are reducing impacts on the resource, but also still providing opportunities for the public to enjoy their National Forest." In a word, this testimony sums up the entire mission of the Forest Service.

Yet, the complexity of achieving this mission effectively and efficiently for the 1.9 million acres of Coconino National Forest must draw upon the skill of many disciplines. It is a rare occasion that employees of such various specialties, from hydrology to recreation, geology to wildlife, can unite under the same sun, breathe the mountain air, and see the fruits of their teamwork come to life directly and immediately.


We are out today in Mountainaire naturalizing an old road & building fences. Brian tells us about the project and this annual District event. #Flagstaff #EmployeeWorkDay

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Coconino National Forest on Wednesday, August 16, 2017


"It's really exciting to end the summer season that way," Poturalski beams like a proud father. "With the common goal of caring for the land and serving the people."

An archaeologist, an office manager, and a firefighter all walk into the woods.  Four hard-labor hours later, they walk out carrying sweat and satisfaction, leaving behind improvements that will last for years to come.  Another Coconino National Forest work-day done well!