During 2020, record numbers of visitors came to Madera Canyon to enjoy the trails, nature and a little time away from all things COVID-19. The additional foot traffic further eroded the canyon’s most popular trails.

The non-profit Friends of Madera Canyon, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, this month completed the majority of phase one of a two-phase, grant-funded project to restore two of the canyon’s busiest trails, Old Baldy and the Super Trail. Phase two is set for fall.

The work involves restoring water culverts, narrowing paths and preventing future erosion caused by human activity and the effects of time. John Titre, recreation staff officer for the Forest Service Nogales Ranger District, is managing the project on the ground and is working with intern Jacob Fogle, 26, and three members of the Student Conservation Association, a nonprofit that places members in conservation and restoration projects across the country, to get the trail work done. One of their tasks was to install stone dam wells to help prevent erosion in a steep part of the trail. The task of heavy lifting took about eight hours.

SCA member Maddie Villarreal, 22, is from Idaho. She said the dam wells are there to help with erosion caused by people hiking or running water.

“What this dam does is keep all the dirt here and it allows water to slough off into the stream,” she said. “It helps prevent erosion and is just a really nice step for people to walk up versus the steep trails.”

Fellow SCA member Matthew Mosquera, 22, from Florida said signs of wear on this part of the trail were clear.

“You could see a lot of erosion was taking place right there so we were actually losing a lot of soil right here underneath this step,” he said. “We’re hoping it stays in place with the check dam.”

Read more in the Sahuarita Sun…