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Last fall the Tonto NF released their Travel Management Plan with a decision to decommission two roads adjacent to the 20,850 acre Sierra Ancha Wilderness (SAW); Workman Creek (Aztec Peak) Road #487, and the Cherry Creek Road #203. These two roads are the only motorized access to the top of the Aztec Peak area in the central portion of the SAW (487) and across the east side of the SAW (203). The 203 Road also provides motorized access to a large portion of Game Management Unit 23, east of the SAW.
Closing these two roads will effectively eliminate access to thousands of acres of forest land in and around the SAW, unless you’re capable of hiking a long way at high elevations. Aztec Peak is 7,684’ in elevation.
Both of these roads have been used since the mid-20th century. They were in existence and utilized by recreationists, miners, loggers, ranchers, hunters, and hikers before the Wilderness Act of 1964. For some additional perspective, you can read the November 2017 Arizona Cattlelog article “Boundaries, Rims, and Roads” by clicking here.
The problem: those who mapped the SAW area in 1964 and tendered the map to Congress, overlapped the SAW boundary intermittently across these two existing roads and also neglected to display the full length of the existing 203 Road. Instead of simply correcting the mistake, or updating the boundary, or moving the road, the Tonto NF plans to decommission a significant portion of these two roads because of the overlapping wilderness boundary.
Here the 203 Road meanders across the eastern face of the SAW along Cherry Creek.