In 1985 when Pinetop Lakeside incorporated, there were seven miles of dedicated forest service trails. One of those trails was the Mogollon Rim Overlook trail. It has been in existence for over fifty years. It is also adjacent to camp Tatiyee.
This picturesque trail is unique and precious for many reasons. The vegetation in the area includes Manzanita bushes which are not common to this area as well as beautiful old growth Alligator Junipers which are increasingly scarce and it is surrounded by Gambel Oaks and Ponderosa pines. In addition; it contains awesome huge sandstone boulders and a breathtaking view of the Mogollon Rim.
The initial portion of the trail is paved which accommodates campers from camp Tatiyee and other physically disabled members of society that would like to enjoy the trail. This paved portion is a very small part of the trail. The remaining portion of the trail is unpaved and much of the vegetation along trail is identified by markers placed there by the forest service and camp Tatiyee staff. This provides an additional educational benefit for visitors. The entire trail is approximately one mile in length, is one of the most popular trails in the White Mountains and one of the most utilized due to it's uniqueness and beauty.
How this land changed ownership from the forest service to a private owner is too complicated to discuss. What we would like to shed light on is that the current owner has closed off all but the paved area of the trail and the public can no longer access natural portion of the trail.
Many things could have been done to avoid this and many discussions have taken place in an attempt to ensure this trail continues to be available to the public. These discussions have been unsuccessful.
As a concerned citizen, I believe the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside should and must do more to resolve this situation. An acquisition of the entire trail the paved and the natural areas should be made to preserve this landmark trail. There are a few other options such as; a permanent easement of the entire trail or declaration of eminent domain or an out right purchase of the property. If there are other viable options I have not thought of, these should also be considered.
We cannot underestimate the value of keeping this landmark trail for visitors and residents alike to continue to enjoy. It is extremely important for the town to preserve this trail and as a community; for us to continue to care for what matters!
Mary Ellen Bittorf,