Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On the western face of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks, vast grasslands of wild roses, ferns and berries lap up against pine-studded slopes beneath an airborne tide of golden aspen leaves. This patchwork of wet meadows--collectively known as Hart Prairie--is home to some of the most beautiful aspen glens in the state. However, over the past 50 years Arizona’s aspen communities have been in decline. Non-native flora and fauna, altered hydrology and fire suppression have compromised their health and without help, these elegant clonal propagators will likely disappear completely. That’s where the Hart Prairie Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project comes in. To save the aspens, the project seeks to restore the area to a more natural state through the use of forest thinning, sprout protection and prescribed burns. Wilson Meadow gives a glimpse of what the goal results might look like---lots of open space with clumpy grasses and thickets of rare Bebb willows sharing the landscape with loosely woven stands of pines, firs and aspens.
LENGTH: 2 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 8,500’ – 9,000’
DOGS: This is a very sensitive area. Dogs must be on leash and owners must pack out all waste.
KID FRIENDLY?: yes
From Flagstaff, go 10 miles north on US180 to milepost 225, turn right onto Hart Prairie Road (south access of FR151) and continue 4.2 miles to FR9007T on the right. Hint: if you reach the Nature Conservancy entrance, you’ve gone too far. Follow FR9007T 0.2 mile to the trailhead. FR 151 is maintained dirt passable by sedan. FR 9007T requires a high clearance vehicle.
SUDDEN ASPEN DECLINE INFO:
Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest: 928-526-0866
Friends of Northern Arizona Forests: http://www.friendsofnazforests.org/
Aspen Delineation Project: http://www.aspensite.org/index.html