Health concerns cause closure of portions of East Verde River, Ellison Creek

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Water Wheel day use area. (July 21, 2017) [Source: Tonto National Forest] Water Wheel day use area. (July 21, 2017) [Source: Tonto National Forest]

Officials with Tonto National Forest, citing health and safety concerns, have extended the closures of day use sites along the East Verde River and Ellison Creek. 

Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth, said the closures will allow investigators to continue a safety assessment after the recent tragedy when 10 people were killed in a flash flood. 

[RELATED: 9 killed, 1 missing after flash flood tears through swimming hole near Payson]

The Closures include all National Forest System (NFS) lands located within the East Verde River day use sites known as First Crossing, Water Wheel, Second Crossing, Third Crossing and Cold Springs Trailhead.

It also includes those NFS lands immediately adjacent to each East Verde River day use site within a 500 foot corridor either side of the wetted edge of the East Verde River and Ellison Creek.

The boundaries for the East Verde River corridor area begin at the southern private property line of the Whispering Pines private subdivision and extend south to the northern private property line of the Beaver Valley private subdivision.

For the Ellison Creek corridor area, boundaries begin at the western private property line of the Cold Springs Ranch private property and extend west to the confluence of Ellison Creek with the East Verde River.

The closure order will remain in effect through August 31, 2017, unless terminated sooner.

Forest officials emphasize that violations of these prohibitions are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

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