ARIZONA — A popular off-highway vehicle road was so severely damaged by monsoon storms that it looked like it might be closed for months. That’s when a specialist at the Red Rock Ranger District came up with an idea to save it. Adam LaDell, recreation permit specialist on the RRRD, informed all of the permitted outfitters and guides using Forest Road 9513 of its immediate need for repairs and organized their efforts to fix the road.
Adam’s call for help was answered by the Jeep tour guides and rental companies of Sedona. This group of dedicated off-roaders rallied dirt, equipment and people-power to FR 9513 between Jan. 15 to Feb. 2 to keep access through Diamondback Gulch open and safe for travel. This access is not just for their own clients, but for all Forest visitors. Additionally, these efforts help keep sediment out of Oak Creek, potentially preserving millions of dollars of revenue in the process. LaDell sought road maintenance permits to help expedite hauling, gathered workers, and obtained the materials and equipment to get the project rolling.
“The road was never closed, and the outfitters and guides were able to still operate,” said LaDell. “The public still had access to the road while the work was being done.”
The economic benefit of this project saved outfitters and guides a potential $2.5 million and the Forest Service a potential revenue loss of more than $78,000. The total cost of road repairs was about $23,500 for labor and equipment.
Forest Road 9513 is a road open to all vehicles which goes through Diamondback Gulch, located just outside Sedona in classic western ranch country. The road offers thrilling rugged terrain amongst a backdrop of stunning scenery and natural beauty consisting of climbs and descents through juniper-studded hills and rocky canyons in the Sedona red rock area. This area requires outfitters and guides to be permitted to conduct Jeep rentals and tours. Drivers who descended through Diamondback Gulch had great concern because the slope in the degrading road forced vehicles precariously close to exposed natural gas pipelines.
The project included 15 people, comprised of six Forest Service employees and nine permit holders, who put in a total of 960 hours of labor to make the road safe to use again.