By Ron Vernesoni
(January 29, 2015)
Perhaps a better title for the recent Forest Service (FS) press release regarding damage to the Jordan Road, Sedona archaeological site would have been—“Yet another archeological site is damaged— more to come”. If memory serves, not long ago an archaeological site was damaged by rogue mountain bikers building ramps out of ancient materials for their jumps.
Albert Einstein said–“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”— in this case, implementing the same FS policies and expecting compliance with FS laws. In reality, until there are dramatic changes in forest recreation policy and strong controls placed on the activities of visitors by the FS (including restrictions on forest access and numbers of visitors), we can expect a lot more of the same in the future. These precious and irretrievable treasures will continue to be lost to the virtually uncontrolled crowds of tourists that the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the City of Sedona have successfully lured to the CNF—with no regard to the devastating impact that overcrowding and overuse is having on the CNF’s natural and historical resources, and dwindling wildlife.
The FS will throw up its hands and say–“Sorry–insufficient funding to deal with these complex issues”. The City and Chamber will exclaim–“We need the money. We must support our businesses at all costs”. Even if the costs include pillaged national treasures and a sterile ecosystem.
A familiar but troubling FS pattern persists. Addressing the damage to archaeological sites after the damage has been done; managing the impacts of illegally built trails after the trails have been built; closing off sensitive areas of the forest to vehicles after overuse has occurred; responding reactively to wildfires that could have been prevented with emergency mitigating measures after the wildfire is out of control.
This latest incident of archaeological damage is the tip of the iceberg relative to violations of FS rules constantly occurring in the CNF around Sedona. For instance, this past Sunday (Jan. 25) I drove out to a nearby wilderness area to do some hiking. I observed several violations of FS regulations while there—as I often do.
Violation #1: People were car camping in an area closed by the FS adjacent to a wilderness area.
Violation #2: 15-20 spent handgun or rifle gun casings were observed lying on the ground at the parking lot of a wilderness area trailhead. Shooting at a trailhead is illegal.
Violation #3: Multiple people were observed with foraging dogs off leash in a wilderness area.
Violation #4: Individuals are driving off the existing FS spur road 9530 into sensitive adjoining areas to avoid driving through water holes and over rough spots. A large section of FS spur road 9530 is surrounded by wilderness. Bypasses and detours have been created in numerous locations on the spur road. The areal extent of damage is increasing and is out of control.
In reality—-the wilderness is not wild anymore. Where a deer once grazed, ATV’s now roar across the forest. Where javelina once roamed, a young man’s dog gleefully romps through sensitive wildlife habitat.
The FS has already closed off many good areas to folks. Abuse of areas by people who have no regard for OUR values and heritage is a growing problem that is not going to go away or get smaller anytime soon. They are still public lands that belong to the citizens of this country. It would be very easy for the FS to go too far.
People have their dogs off leash back in the wilderness, gasp!
Next you are going to tell me that Tom Tayback didnt write those songs he sings.
I support compliance with the law. It is against the law to have dogs off leash in a wilderness area.