U.S. Forest Service Sustainable Recreation Planning through Community Engagement
The mountains surrounding Tucson, Arizona hold a bounty of scenic desert recreation opportunities, from waterfalls to archaeological sites and geological rock formations. A fifteen minute drive through northeast Tucson leads to Redington Pass, connecting the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges in the Coronado National Forest – managed by the US Forest Service (USFS). Redington Road, a 14-mile strip of unpaved road maintained by Pima County, winds across the Pass connecting the Tucson and San Pedro valleys. The scenic and challenging desert backcountry of Redington Pass attracts a diverse range of users, including recreationalists, ranchers, and researchers.
When I started my research, the Forest Service was finalizing revisions to their comprehensive Forest Plan to meet the needs of public land access for the 21st century. Presently, only one ecological management area exists for the entire district. The Plan revision proposes a collaborative area management plan specific for Redington Pass, in coordination with the Friends of Redington Pass (FRP), a non-profit organization representing social and environmental interests on the Pass. This partnership is illustrative of modern network development forged across sectors to tackle complex shared issues.