Project Purpose

The purpose of the Flagstaff Trails Initiative is to develop and implement a collaborative, cross-jurisdictional strategy for recreational trails in the Flagstaff region. This effort seeks to improve the quality, connectivity and community support for a sustainable trail system that balances the demand for recreation with the community’s vision for conservation, development, and health.

Project Goals

FTI Goals and Strategies (November 2019, from the Draft Regional Trail Strategy)

The goals and strategies of FTI were informed directly from public participation and the viewpoint of the diverse organizations on the core team. They build on existing plans for the Flagstaff region including the Coconino County Comprehensive PlanFlagstaff Regional Plan 2030 and Draft Coconino National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

Overall Goal: Elevate Flagstaff’s trail system good to extraordinary

Strategies

  • Use the Flagstaff Regional Trail Strategy to consolidate trail plans, proposals and concepts into a single regional document and conceptual map
  • Prioritize a set of shared actions and investments for the next 5 years
  • Take a collaborative and integrative approach to trail development – “Plan+Build=Balance”

Goal A: Improve trail quality and sustainability

Strategies

  • Ensure that modern, sustainable trail planning and building techniques are applied to all trail projects to reduce future maintenance needs
  • Prioritize maintenance and realignment efforts based on known backlogs or up-to-date inventories, increasing the percentage of trails in the system identified as in good condition
  • Re-route, decommission, restore or replace unsustainable trails

Goal B: Address the current and future demand for non-motorized and motorized trail activities

Strategies

  • Develop an inclusive, user-friendly trail system that provides valued experiences for multiple uses and varying skill levels
  • Address unauthorized trails through closure and restoration, replacement or adoption 
  • Identify the areas or trail systems most in need of comprehensive site-specific planning
  • Minimize the potential for ongoing unauthorized trail creation through targeted trail development and improvements to trail quality
  •  Provide a range of trail experiences through trail modification or development and address gaps in the current system: 
    • mobility-impaired/accessible
    • hiker intended, multi-use trails that provide opportunities for solitude
    • technical and flow mountain biking trails
    • motorized singletrack
  • Consider adaptive management strategies –  such as dispersal and segregation of uses, alternating days for various users, non-exclusive “preferred use” designations and trail directionality – where appropriate to minimize conflict and address overcrowding while keeping the vast majority of trails multi-use 

Goal C: Improve connectivity between Flagstaff and the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS), regional open space and outlying Coconino County communities

Strategies

  • Complete the Flagstaff Loop Trail
  • Connect the regional trail system by working on the connections listed in the recommendations below
  • Implement needed enhancements to existing trailheads, staging areas and less formal public access points around the perimeter of Flagstaff and other communities, listed below
  • Prevent loss of public access by pursuing legal access to important, legally unsecured trail access points as development occurs or opportunities arise

Goal D: Balance trail development and management with community conservation and natural resource goals with an emphasis on restoration

Strategies

  • Focus unauthorized trail closure and restoration efforts in the areas with the highest resource and cultural sensitivity, setting annual targets for miles of trail restored
  • Evaluate the use of site-specific and limited seasonal closures to reduce wildlife disturbance 
  • Use new trail development, improved access and trail information to disperse heavy recreation use from areas of high resource sensitivity to areas of lower resource sensitivity

Goal E: Ensure historic and prehistoric sites, including known American Indian sacred places and traditional cultural properties, are preserved and protected for their cultural importance.

Strategies

  • Interpret locations of cultural or historical significance, using trails as a means to connect people to the land and its history
  • Take action to protect site stability and integrity where trail use is a threat
  • Proactively work with American Indian tribes on trail and outdoor recreation projects
  • Deepen trail-related partnership with organizations like the Ancestral Lands Program and  NAU Native American Center

Goal F: Create a safe and fun experience for all trail users

Strategies

  • Launch a new trail user etiquette campaign to promote awareness of “share the trail” principles and low impact recreation behavior 
  • Improve visitor information and wayfinding by adopting shared or complimentary sign standards between trail providers
  • Work with organizations like Latino Outdoors to ensure that Flagstaff-area trail systems are welcoming to all people, regardless of cultural background or ability

Goal G: Educate, inform and involve the community in trail stewardship

Strategies

  • Promote shared stewardship by offering trail-related volunteer opportunities 
  • Increase the number of trail volunteers and hours contributed to trail stewardship, encouraging all user groups to volunteer for monthly trail maintenance and construction events
  • Launch the Flagstaff Trail Academy, a new trail skills training program to teach skills of trail design, building and maintenance to cultivate a cadre of dedicated trail stewards able to work across systems and jurisdictions through “adopt-a-trail” programs
  • Increase the number of trail and recreation-related educational programs to reach all members of the Flagstaff community
  • Elevate understanding of trail opportunities, issues and accomplishments among local leaders, stakeholders, policymakers and elected officials

Goal H: Use trails to build the next generation of youth stewards

Strategies

  • Work with organizations like Alpine Leadership Academy to identify meaningful trail stewardship and education service projects for youth

Goal I: Improve the financial sustainability of trail management

Strategies

  • Create a new Flagstaff Trail Fund to collect and distribute funds – utilize the United Way of Northern Arizona as an interim fiscal agent while transitioning to a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization 
  • Pursue suitable federal, state and private grant opportunities
  • Cultivate new sources of funding and in-kind resources for trail maintenance, education, planning, and development 
  • Establish a partnership mechanism that allows agencies and organizations to share funding, personnel and other resources
  • Actively seek out opportunities for trail providers to pool investment, such as a shared Flagstaff Trails Corps
  • Develop a trail system that is within the capacity of the community and providers to manage

Goal J: Integrate trail planning and management with tourism and economic goals

Strategies

  • Encourage suitable locations, or construct new ones, for trail events 
  • Develop, enhance and promote certain trails within the system as destination trails for visitors
  • Increase the engagement of local businesses and Discover Flagstaff in trail promotion and management
  • Leverage marketing efforts like Pledge the Wild to educate visiting trail users on low impact and safe recreation practices