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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students revved for motor park reopening

    Canyon Motocross Park, north of Phoenix, has been a favorite spot for UA students since the closure of the Pima Motocross Park, which left five motor parks in Arizona. With no nearby motor parks, riders are more likely to blaze their own trails in the desert and damage the environment, said Guy Deatherich, general manager of Canyon Motocross Parks.
    Canyon Motocross Park, north of Phoenix, has been a favorite spot for UA students since the closure of the Pima Motocross Park, which left five motor parks in Arizona. With no nearby motor parks, riders are more likely to blaze their own trails in the desert and damage the environment, said Guy Deatherich, general manager of Canyon Motocross Parks.

    The Pima County Board of Supervisors may reopen a local motor sports park by early April, giving hope to some UA students who think the facility saves the desert environment and provides a legal playground for off-road enthusiasts.

    After shutting down the Pima Motorsports Park a year ago because of safety violations, the supervisors may reopen the off-highway park if someone with public liability insurance proposes to be the park’s new operator, said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

    The news of a possible reopening is a sweet sound to Holly Lawson, an ecology and evolutionary biology senior who used to go to the park to ride her all-terrain vehicle.

    “”It was always so much fun,”” said Lawson, who would visit the park once a week. “”If the park was reopened, it would save time driving to other tracks that are in Phoenix or Casa Grande.””

    Not just time and money would be saved by reopening the park, but also the sanctity of the Sonoran Desert and the wildlife that live there, said Alona Bachi, a graduate associate in ecology and evolutionary biology.

    Local off-roaders who don’t take the longer trip to other sports parks opt to make their own tracks in the desert, which tears up the physical landscape and the habitats of the animals living there, Bachi said.

    Bachi said she went to parts of the desert where tracks had been laid down and said the destruction was “”shocking.””

    “”When you go off road, eventually these tracks turn into trails,”” Bachi said. “”Too many of these will deplete the wildlife population because some animals just can’t cross these trails.””

    The tracks also destroy the desert crust, which burrowing animals depend on to live, Bachi said. In addition to providing protection, the crust also helps channel nutrients and water to areas of the desert.

    The environmental advantages that reopening the park would have on the desert are clear, Huckelberry said, though nothing can be done until the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department is finished reviewing different proposals from possible operators.

    The department is reviewing eight proposals, several of which look promising, Huckelberry said.

    “”It doesn’t seem like we’ll be looking for much longer,”” said Huckelberry, adding that he couldn’t comment on the specific individuals applying.

    The sooner the park is reopened, the better, said Kathleen Gamble, the mother of 13-year-old Ryan Gamble, who died while racing at the park in December 2004.

    After Ryan’s death and several other injuries occurred at the park, the supervisors became concerned the facility was not operating safely and the facility was shut down in July.

    Though the safety standards were questionable, Kathleen Gamble said she hopes those problems will be addressed quickly so others, including her 19-year-old son, have a place to legally ride.

    “”Ryan is gone, but he left his brother and his friends behind, and they still ride,”” Kathleen Gamble said. “”They need a place to go.””

    Huckelberry said he will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors about whether to reopen the facility and what other services the community would like to see offered there, like a shooting range.

    “”I can’t say for sure what the park’s future will be,”” Huckelberry said. “”But my view is that we need to provide recreational opportunities to a diverse group of interests. This is one of those interests, and if we can reopen the facility, then we should.””

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