by Heidi Schewel, Coronado National Forest
As the operation and maintenance of the shuttle system for the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area transition to a new permit holder, a gap in service may occur due to the automatic stay under Forest Service regulations of issuance of the new permit during the appeal of the permit holder selection decision.
As the special use permit for shuttle operations neared expiration, the forest issued a prospectus and request for applications for the shuttle system on November 28th, 2017. A competitive process for the permit was favored by the general public and congressional representatives and was consistent with agency regulations and directives. The prospectus solicited applications for operation of the shuttle system under a special use permit. Applications were evaluated by a panel consisting of employees from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, with extensive experience evaluating applications and administering land use authorizations for transportation systems. The panel’s written evaluation was submitted to Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry, who selected Regional Partnering Center for the new permit for operation and maintenance of the shuttle system.
Supervisor Dewberry’s selection of a permit holder was based on the panel’s evaluation, in particular, how the applications addressed the evaluation criteria in the prospectus. The Regional Partnering Center will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the shuttle system consistent with the new permit and annual operating plan. The current shuttle system permit expires June 30, 2018. The Forest Service is exploring potential approaches to the gap in service. The gap may be short or may last for several months, depending on the duration of the appeal process.
The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and Visitor Center will remain open; the only change will be temporary cessation of shuttle service. Numerous opportunities for recreational activities will still be available, including hiking, picnicking, bird and nature watching, and enjoyment of the stream and riparian area. Changes in shuttle service will be announced through news releases and will be posted on the Coronado National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/Coronado