Rich Smith is a dedicated volunteer of the Tonto National Forest. For nearly six years, he has served the public by reducing the natural resource impact from off-highway vehicles (OHV), while improving recreational opportunities for Tonto National Forest visitors.
From March 2005 to 2008, Rich formed and led the Friends of Sycamore, a group of individuals and volunteers who helped address concerns in high-use OHV sites that were negatively impacting the Tonto National Forest.
Since then, he has organized the volunteers into a non-profit corporation, Tonto Recreation Alliance (TRAL). The organization has educated others about the importance of respecting forest land by encouraging user ethics. With the Tonto National Forest receiving the greatest number of primary OHV visits—529,000 visits annually—than any other individual national forest, Rich’s motivation was quickly embraced by the Mesa Ranger District.
In 2009, the Mesa Ranger District discussed with TRAL the need for conservation of a riparian area at Mesquite Wash. The goal was to keep OHV traffic out of the area. TRAL partnered with the Forest Service and Rocks Stars Motorcycle Club to install signs and barriers at all of the entrances to the sensitive areas.
He also is currently training others to lead projects. Under Rich’s leadership, a member of TRAL organized a clean-up to remove 25 tons of trash with the help of 500 volunteers. The trash filled four 40-yard roll-off dumpsters!
Rich’s service began with Friends of Sycamore and has grown to a non-profit organization that has formed partnerships and provided more than 2,000 hours of volunteer hours annually. Rich is making a difference in his community.