Despite deaths from extreme heat, Phoenix keeps hiking trails open

Officials in Phoenix announced they will keep the city’s hiking trails open during extreme heat after local hikers protested a ban considered by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board. The ban was proposed after a spate of heat-related deaths among hikers.

On Thursday, the Parks and Recreation Board met to consider banning hikers from the trails on its more than 40,000 acres of desert preserves when temperatures hit over 110 degrees. That proposed measure was voted down unanimously by the board after dozens of local citizens showed up to protest it.

RELATED: 4 hikers die over weekend from record Arizona heat wave

“Clearly, the community has spoken here,” board member Charlene Tarver told the Arizona Republic after shooting down the potential ban.

“Every single day, I have the choice and the freedom as an adult to climb that mountain and look up and look amongst everybody and say, I'm here to live life,” one local who attended the meeting to voice his displeasure at a potential hiking restriction told KJZZ.

Phoenix hiking trails

Temperatures on Camelback Mountain (above) can get dangerously high for hikers. Photo: Courtesy of Take a Hike Arizona/Flickr

While many locals passionately showed up to stand up for their rights to hike in the dangerous weather, the Parks and Recreation Board wasn’t final in its decision. It has appointed a task force to research potential ways to mitigate human risk in sweltering heat going forward.

“Our goal is not really to be heavy-handed or punitive,” Parks and Recreation Director Inger Erickson told the Arizona Republic about potential future restrictions.

While humans will still be allowed on the trails in excessive heat, the board did rule that, effective immediately, dogs will no longer be allowed on the trails when the temperatures climb above 100 degrees, as part of a three-month pilot program.

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