Hikers Have Mixed Reaction To Phoenix Trail Closure Proposal

Published: Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 3:28pm
Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 3:33pm
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The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board tonight is scheduled to vote on a new rule to close the city’s trails to dogs when the temperature gets above 100 degrees, and close them altogether when it hits 110 degrees. Hikers Thursday morning at the Pima Canyon Trailhead at South Mountain had mixed opinion on the idea.

“I think it’d be a good idea," said Tyiana Hill-Russell. "I mean you just saw last week a bunch of hikers dying of heat stroke and falling off mountains, so I figure if we can prevent that here that’d be a good thing.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t know how they’d enforce it because there’s so many access points to the trails," Dale Agar said. "And there’s a lot of, I don’t want to say rogue, but cyclists or hikers that just feel it’s their right to go out and enjoy the outdoors. So I think it would be difficult to enforce."

“I support it when it’s like middle of the day, when it’s too hot," Stephen Camarista. "I still would want to open it in the morning. Close it, like, 11 a.m. and up.”

Inger Erickson is director of Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department. She said the proposal is one that's been discussed in previous years.

"We've always struggled with that is the appropriate thing to do," Erickson said. So this year, they're opening the discussion to the public.

Some avid hikers are concerned about the potential of trails being closed during the summer. Heath Poulter of Queen Creek helps run the Arizona Hiking group on Facebook, and said it could cause problems for Phoenix.

"I think it's a bad idea because the city will have to dedicate extra resources to the trails, and with the city already having the largest parks system in the United States, I think it would be difficult to manage," Poulter said.

And, Poulter said, while he personally doesn’t hit the trails when it’s that hot, others should be able to.

"You accept risk in everything you do during the day. You get in your car and drive to work. There is risk in driving a car. All you can do is, weigh the risk versus the reward. You can't always be right. But I wouldn't want to live my life always being afraid to do things."

Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Board is expected to vote on the proposal at Thursday's meeting,  if the panel approves it, the new rule will take effect immediately. The meeting is open to the public and starts at 5 p.m. in the Phoenix City Council chambers at 200 W. Jefferson St.

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