With the recent completion of the pipeline and Waterline Road project, members of the public have been asking whether Waterline Road will reopen. For safety reasons, Waterline Road will remain closed to all public access until at least the spring of 2013.
Much of the forest surrounding Waterline Road, including the Kachina Peaks Wilderness uphill of the road, was severely damaged by the 2010 Schultz Fire. Though the City of Flagstaff Waterline Rd project included extensive repair of the road itself, many hazards – such as falling trees and rocks – still exist. While those hazards cannot be completely removed, there is a need to address the most imminent hazards before the area is reopened for recreational use. With hundreds of thousands of dead trees lining the road, it will take some time to accomplish that task.
Even after those efforts are complete, it will be important for the public to recognize the on-going risks associated with recreating in a post-fire environment. Numerous trees and branches fell onto the road during last week’s winds, and that can be expected to continue with high winds for many years to come. Monsoon seasons will also bring a risk of flooding. Signs will be installed to warn visitors of these inherent risks.
“We’re very eager to open the road so people can see the on-going recovery of the mountain, but our first priority is public safety and at this point it’s just too dangerous,” says Flagstaff District Ranger Mike Elson. “We’re working to eliminate imminent dangers and we’ll reassess conditions in the spring.”
For additional information, contact the Flagstaff Ranger Station at 928-526-0866.