The Verde Valley Trail Fund (VVTF) was incorporated as an Arizona Nonprofit Corporation on June 24, 2021 and received its IRS non-profit designation on October 12, 2021. Its mission is to provide a self-sustaining funding source to help maintain and enhance system trails on Verde Valley public lands.
The VVTF Board of Directors includes local hikers, cyclists, runners, and equestrians who work in partnership with local land managers and the community and currently consists of Kevin Adams (Acting President and Vice President), Gary Davis (Secretary), Jan Starkey (Treasurer) and at large Directors Steve Ayers, Cliff Bryson, Crisi Clark, and Greg Miranda. Sean Brooks provides information technology support. The Board meets on the third Thursday of the month, alternating between Camp Verde and Cottonwood locations. The next meeting is April 20, 2023 at 5:30PM at the Camp Verde Development Office 385 S Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322. The Verde Front Leadership Council is invited to attend. At this meeting, we anticipate Crisi Clark being voted in to serve as President.
The three primary goals of VVTF are to provide the community with understanding of trail values, continuously maintaining and enhancing the trails, and having the capacity to meet the funding shortfall needs of these trails.
The VVTF is modeled after the very successful Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund and will build on the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition’s (VVCC) fundraising success with the Verde Trails & Access Plan (VTAP). Recognizing that the primary fundraising source for VTAP needed to transition from mountain bikers to the community, the VVCC and VVTF entered into a Memorandum of Understanding creating an orderly transition where both entities raise funds for the VTAP in 2022 with the VVTF taking over primary fundraising responsibility in 2023. The Forest Service (FS) entered into a Cost Share Agreement with the VVTF in February 2022 to address VTAP projects.
The VVTF expects to have a website up and running later this calendar year.
2022-2023 Field Season
The VVTF and VVCC jointly funded the 2022-2023 field season’s work on the Copper Chief Trail which used a combination of mechanized construction by professional trail builders and manual construction/restoration work by youth conservation corps members and volunteers.
VVTF funded activities ($64,750.00 total costs). The VVTF contracted with Flagline Trails LLC to provide a professional machine operator equipped with a mini-excavator to cut trail tread and back slope, to specification, along the flagged alignment of the Copper Chief Trail. Work began in early January 2023. Total cost: $55,000.00. Additionally, Flagline Trails also provided project management/trail training supporting two Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) crews with trail construction training specific to the Copper Chief Trail project. Total Cost: $9,750.00.
Copper Chief Trail Construction 2023 - Pictures Courtesy of Flagline Trails LLC
VVCC funded activities ($119,430.29 less any missing crew hours on the last hitch). The VVCC contracted with AZCC to provide up to two crews for up to 22 weeks on the project during the 2022-2023 season. AZCC provided two crews during November 2022 to provide two weeks each of restoration actions in the project area. AZCC provided crews beginning on January 31, 2023 to perform finishing work on the newly constructed Copper Chief Trail. Work is expected to conclude on April 18th. In total, AZCC will provide 16 weeks of work. ($110,256.65 less any missing crew hours on the last hitch.)
Youth Conservation Corps Crews Performing Finishing Work - Photo Courtesy of Conservation Legacy
The VVCC also provided gate guards ($6,616.75) installed on the Copper Chief Trail this season by volunteers, wattles ($1,497.13) used for restoration actions during Fall 2022 and refreshments at 12 volunteer workdays on the project ($1,050.76). Four volunteer workdays were cancelled due to weather. The twelve volunteer workdays attracted 77 volunteers who contributed 308 hours on the project. These volunteer hours are valued at $8,790.32 and are not included in the above VVCC total costs.
Gate Guard Installed on the Copper Chief Trail by Volunteers in 2023 - Picture Courtesy of Kevin Adams
Trails Working Capital Fund
The VVTF has created a Trails Working Capital Fund (TWCF) to materially fund VTAP new trail construction. The TWCF is replenished annually through reimbursement type grants awarded and administered by Arizona State Parks & Trails (ASP&T). The TWCF permits the focus to be on new trail construction rather than fundraising annually. ASP&T requires either a 5.7% or 25% grant match depending on the grant that will have to be raised annually through grants and other funding.
The 2022-2023 field season was funded from the following grants and the TWCF:
- Catena Foundation $100,500.00 awarded to the VVCC in 2021 (three-year grant)
- National Forest Foundation $28,000.00 awarded to the VVCC in 2022
- Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County $10,000.00 awarded to the VVTF in 2022
- Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona $7,504.00 awarded to the VVTF in 2022
- City of Cottonwood $7,500.00 awarded to the VVTF in 2022
- Mountain Bike Association of Arizona $2,000.00 awarded to the VVTF in 2022
- Friends of the Verde River $1,000 awarded to the VVTF in 2022
- TWCF $27,676.29 provided by the VVCC
The VVCC was awarded a Recreational Trails Program (2021) and the VVTF a Heritage Fund (2022) grant for the 2022-2023 field season. Maximum total value of the two grants totaled $200,000.00. Much of the above $184,180.29 cost for the 2022-2023 field season will be reimbursed and applied to the TWCF providing a significant portion of the upfront funding for the 2023-2024 field season.
The VVCC and VVTF are already in work submitting grant applications for the 2023-2024 field season in which we anticipate that the Copper Chief Trail will be completed:
Catena Foundation $9,090.09 awarded to the VVCC in 2021 (final installment)
Arizona State Parks & Trails Recreation Trails Program $150,000.00 awarded to the VVTF in 2022 (reimbursement type grant with the reimbursement to be used for the 2024-2025 field season’s work constructing the Quail Springs Trail)
Pending Grant applications
Arizona Community Foundation $20,000 grant application submitted by the VVTF
Athletic Brewing Company ($10,000) grant application submitted by the VVTF
The VVTF has also been informed that the Catena Foundation would be open to funding the outsourcing for any cultural and historic properties surveys for the Verde Valley Circle Trail in Red Rock Ranger District areas outside of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund’s geographic territory. The Verde Ranger District has also approached the VVTF about outsourcing cultural and historic properties surveys for the Quail Spring Trail using the TWCF.