The following is a release from the Gila National Forest Office:
Following assessments of flood damage to the popular Catwalk National Recreation Trail this fall, U.S. Forest Service personnel have been working with N.M. Department of Transportation personnel to improve road conditions along N.M. Highway 174. These improvements have now allowed Forest Service equipment to access the Catwalk, where additional work is scheduled.
“Damage to the parking lot, picnic area, and trail system is extensive. Work will be completed in phases, beginning with a short term plan to provide access to the picnic areas and approximately ½ mile of the older trail along the northwest side of Whitewater Creek, ” District Ranger Debbie Cress said. She adds that the Forest Service hopes to reopen a portion of the Catwalk by April, and intends to work with community members and interested agencies throughout upcoming months to develop a long term plan for the Catwalk. Community members can expect opportunties to participate in public meetings and open house forums to provide their input.
Short term efforts to restore the Catwalk area include:
- Channel work to return Whitewater Creek flows to the upper low water crossing. Currently, water is diverted to the southeast and running along a portion of the highway.
- Clearing sediment, logs, and other debris away from picnic tables.
- Clearing landslides and stabilizing handrails along the old trail in to the steps constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
- Removing metal debris from the picnic area and channel.
- Interpretive signing.
“I understand the community’s concerns about reopening this popular site as soon as possible,” adds Ranger Cress. “My concern is ensuring the picnic area and trail are safe for the public’s enjoyment. Planning our work in phases will allow people to come and enjoy the area again as quickly as possible, while providing the community an opportunity to participate in creating a long term plan to continue the tradition of the Catwalk.” Please contact the Glenwood Ranger District office for further information, 575.539.2481.