Proposed Coronado National Forest plan up for public review

TUCSON, AZ (TNN) – A National Forest next door provides many with an escape.

"You're out of everything that city life has become and it makes you feel like there's just more valuable part of the city and nature out here," said David Isham as he walked in Sabino Canyon.

But people enjoy Coronado National Forest in different ways; different groups want parts of it managed differently.

"We have more endangered species then just about any other National Forest in the nation. And so, these reservoirs of wilderness are great habitat for protection of those species.  And so, that's another important value of why we have wilderness," said Coronado National Forest manager Jim Upchurch.

The proposed plan seeks more designated wilderness near Mount Graham and in the Chiricahuas. Those areas could not have jeeps nor mountain bikes. But the plan has yet to be approved, and Congress has to designate wilderness.

"We would like to preserve it and see it used. That's what is going to encourage people to want to preserve even more," said Patrick Kell with the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

"There's very little wilderness on this forest compared to what they need is and we'd like to see the little bit of wilderness suitable areas that remain be designated as they should have been 20, 30 years ago," said Cyndi Tuell with Sky Island Alliance.

A challenge remains in preserving balancing access to forest lands with preservation of what's unspoiled.

"You're really in touch with nature out here," Isham said.

The Forest Service will hold another public forum in Tucson on Tuesday, January 22nd at the Udall Recreation Center on the east side from 6 to 8 p.m.

The public has until mid-February to submit comments to the Forest Service.

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