By Chris Halstead, Sedona Resident
(August 31, 2013)
On Thursday August 29th 6-8pm @ the VOC Hilton the Red Rock Ranger District continued its series of meetings on the ‘future of trails in Sedona’. The Coconino National Forest supplied a hydrologist, biologist, archeologist and several planners. Approximately 60 other local residents were in attendance, representing themselves as local trail users or on a dual role as members of Friends of the Forest, The Westerners and Sedona Mountain Bike club (SMBC).
In spite of a couple attendees who were obviously there to push their angry agenda and their agenda only… the meeting settled into a productive example of democracy in action (and in all reality as annoying as it is dealing with grown-ups acting like teenagers who just want to be heard and push their agenda, on topic or not, IS part of the democratic process.)
There are over 276 miles of official trails surround the city of Sedona. Looking at the maps posted on the walls during the meeting it was blatantly obvious where the problem areas are, and although there was the usual blaming it on the tourists (Sedona receives approx. 3.5 million visitors a year) it is blatantly obvious that this is a local issue, a Sedona resident issue. We created all the social trails in the areas of concern (tonight’s focus was around Turkey Creek, Middle Dry creek, and the Twin Buttes area.)
In all reality it is up to us… the locals, the residents to help maintain and clean up OUR mess. We all seem to want to put it on the forest service to clean up after us and maintain all the trails that all the different organizations and individuals use. We take or send the visitors to these areas, either as our guest or with our rentals or just providing them the beta on the trails. It is up to us to “own up” to the mess we have created and the costs that go with it. As discussed at the end of the meeting the best thing that we locals can do is use good peer pressure to solicit help from our friends, neighbors, and fellow participants in our types of fun, either be it hiking, trail running, mountain biking, or equestrian use. Ask for help, lead by example, solicit help from your peers and seek permission to “adopt a trail”. We created most the trails in question, we use the trails and it is our want to continue to play on them as we see fit.
And most importantly when you attend these community meetings, leave your inner teenager at home….there is a great probability of making progress on your agenda (instead of making yourself look angry and resentful) and obtaining buy-in from your fellow residents and trail users if you present a balanced case and act like you want all parties involved to get their needs met. After all the forest service personnel are fellow trail users, hunters, hikers, equestrians and local residents as well, not Orson Wells’ version of big brother…