Mohave County promotes OHV Peace Trail
LAKE HAVASU CITY – The Arizona Peace Trail’s development could hit a snag, according to Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, if organizers can’t come to terms with state agencies.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to issue a letter to State Parks in support of the Peace Trail, which Arizona officials have supported almost unanimously since the concept was introduced more than two years ago.
The Peace Trail is a 675-mile off-highway trail system that stretched across much of Arizona’s West Coast – and through both state and federal lands.
Mohave County entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Peace Trail’s planning agency, Peace Trail, Inc, to promote and map its portion the trail system. The county has already erected trailblazer signs on finished segments of the trail, which are now in use by off-highway recreation enthusiasts.
The problem, Johnson says, is that state statute prohibits free marketing of rights-of-way within public lands.
“It’s a good idea, and the concept is great,” Johnson said of the trail on Friday. “The county is happy to participate … but we have to make sure where they cross county roads, that everyone is protected. The problem is that with state lands, (the State Lands office) has to get money for rights of way on its lands. They’re trying to get those fees waived, but that’s where attorneys get involved. The cost could be prohibitive for getting the trail through state lands.”
The alternative, Johnson says, could involve remapping the trail itself, and avoiding public lands where possible. The Mohave County Board of Supervisors’ letter, if approved, will voice the county’s support for the Arizona Peace Trail, and will encourage State Lands and Arizona State Parks and Trails officials to continue working with Arizona Peace Trail organizers to streamline the trail’s development.
“We think it’s a good deal,” Johnson said. “But they might have to reroute the trail to avoid state lands if possible.”
According to Mohave County Public Works Director Steven Latoski, Arizona Peace Trail, Inc., has already received grant funding from Arizona State Parks and Trails to conduct environmental studies, physical surveying and right-of-way documents supporting future development.
“Mohave County has been informed that Arizona State Parks and Trails is currently working with the Arizona State Land Department and Arizona Peace Trail Inc., to make the proposed trail a reality,” Latoski wrote in his request for the board’s letter of support.
John Geyer, who sits on the Arizona State Parks and Trails Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee, has for years been a proponent of the Peace Trail.
“We haven’t gotten all of the permissions and easements,” Geyer said Friday. “We’re working with the BLM, State Trust, as well as cities and counties. Because (Arizona Peace Trail, Inc.) is a marketing entity, they have to get permission. There’s all kinds of discussion going on … there’s the potential for the state of Arizona to take over the Peace Trail.”
The board of supervisors will decide whether to approve a letter of support, and further encourage compromise and initiatives among state agencies to aid in the trail’s completion on state lands.
Their meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday, in Lake Havasu City.