Frequent rescues won't close parts of Coronado National Forest - Tucson News Now

Frequent rescues won't close parts of Coronado National Forest

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Sheriff's deputies shut down the road to Tanque Verde Falls and called on hikers to leave Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon because of the potential for dangerous flooding in those areas this past weekend.

Search and rescue teams still wound up helping people stranded by flood waters these popular nature spots in Pima County.

The largest call for help reported this season was from 26 people on the wrong side of rushing water in Sabino Canyon. Before that, it was 17 people needing help at Tanque Verde Falls.

In both cases, and most recently for three more people at Tanque Verde Falls, a helicopter has been called into to help folks who can't be reached by teams on the ground.

The potential for flash flooding in parts of Coronado National Forest is not enough to close off an area, according to spokeswoman Heidi Schewel.

She said Wednesday, Aug. 2, that closing an area to the public requires some planning and paperwork. It takes known, not potential, threats to cause that to happen.

Wildfires and reports of mountain lions will do it. The last time storms closed part of Sabino Canyon was the massive storm in 2006 that left significant structural damage to roads and trails, according to Schewel.

The Forest Service is focused on education. Signs are posted in areas that are most likely to flood, but Schewel said it is also important for people visiting Coronado National Forest to speak with the staff and rangers before seeking out any natural pools.

"A lot of people want to walk in. They just don't know," hiker Paul Anderson said.

Anderson said he knows better than to hike around the narrow stretches of the canyon this time of year. He said there's no need to hike that far to find what most visitors are after.

"There's plenty of water all over the place to go swimming," he said.

Carla Riggs learned that Wednesday. She said she's visiting family in Tucson and they suggested she hit the water early if she wants to enjoy it safely.

"It was awesome," she said. "It was incredible."

Standing near the parking lot, Riggs looked back at the clouds above Sabino Canyon. She was glad she listened to the advice of family, her tram driver and anywhere else she heard it.

"We also heard on the news that they were evacuated on the other set of falls a few times," she said. "We didn't want to do that."

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