Photos: Officials searching for those who made illegal trail in Sedona

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SEDONA, Ariz. -- Coconino National Forest officials are looking for the person or persons who illegally tried to make their own trail in Sedona.

The illegal trail is on the Red Rock Ranger District, between Brewer Road and Airport Saddle, west of Juniper Lane.
"A lot of work and skill has gone into constructing this trial," said Connie Birkland, Public Affairs Specialist Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest. "It is illegal to build a trail on the National Forest without Forest Service survey and analysis."

Officials say a hiker found a saw, tree lopper and other tools hidden in the forest along the trail. The half-mile trail has numerous banked turns and switchbacks, which caused damage to an archaeological site.

"We've had monsoon rains. The erosion is tremendous. It's now down to bedrock," said Jennifer Burns with the Coconino National Forest.

Why would someone put in so much work to build an illegal trail just a short distance from an existing one built by the forest service?

"This trail. This banked turn right here that I'm walking on is something that typically you know would be a feature in mountain bike trail," explained Burns.

Burns said that a well-known local mountain biker was fined earlier this year for building an illegal trail.

Those caught building illegal trails could be sentenced to jail, ordered to pay a fine, and be forced to pay for restoration work.

The Forest Service asks that anyone with information about who is responsible for this illegal trail construction please call Supervisory Law Enforcement Officer, Jon Nelson at 928-527-3509.

Birkland said this is not an uncommon occurrence in Sedona’s Red Rock area.