RROCC and Sustainable Tourism Plans
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE RED ROCK NEWS
November 5, 2021
As many Sedonans know, the chamber and the City work together under the 2019 adopted Sustainable Tourism Plan to manage and mitigate visitor impacts so that Sedona and our surrounding public lands remain for generations to come to experience and enjoy. As the official Destination Management Organization for greater Sedona, we advocate for a thriving tourism-based economy that includes responsible recreation, with environmental preservation and protection of our quality of life.
In just the past few months, we have been at the forefront of our most complex quality of life issues – consequences of unchecked short-term rental proliferation, wear and tear on our trail system, and most recently, impacts of OHV in our neighborhoods and out on the 525.
Last Tuesday, the chamber, US Forest Service, and dozens of concerned citizens appeared before the Sedona City Council to discuss mitigating OHV impacts while acknowledging everyone’s right to recreate on public lands. Council voted to ask the Forest Service to consider a limited entry permit system for motorized use trails in greater Sedona, like the present system at Soldier’s Pass, where entry is limited to 12 OHV users per day for both public and permitted access.
A comprehensive solution requires collaboration among dozens of stakeholders. So earlier that same day, we hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew (RROCC), the group we organized to champion OHV innovations. The attendance roster included Mayor Sandy Moriarty and City Manager Karen Osburn, Red Rock District Ranger Amy Tinderholt, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and Sedona Police Department members, reps for Congressman Tom O’Halleran and Yavapai County Supervisor Donna Michaels, and several OHV/ATV/Jeep rental and tour companies.
Beginning in September, a dozen OHV companies pledged to contribute 1% of their sales to fund trail improvements and rider education, which includes RROCC ambassadors on trails to connect one-on-one with riders. Conversations around breaking down road blocks to progress continue. As Ranger Tinderholt told the Council last week, it takes time to sort through the legal, jurisdictional, economic and even constitutional issues to find solutions with broad support. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
In related news, I am thrilled to announce the launch of Trail Keepers 2.0 in partnership with the City of Sedona and Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. The initial, five-year first phase raised $370,000 for the US Forest Service to preserve and enhance our 400+ miles of trails splendors of Red Rock Country.
Trail Keepers are businesses from throughout the region, many chamber members – whose $1,000 donation is matched by bed tax dollars allocated to the chamber under our contract with the City. Monies go to the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund nonprofit, which at the US Forest Service’s direction supports projects to preserve Red Rock District trails. Phase 1 concluded in March and was so successful we couldn’t wait to announce version 2.0. More than half of past participating businesses have renewed, and now we open this opportunity up to businesses at-large, as we strive for a goal of fifty. With the chamber match, we aim to raise $100,000 this fiscal year.
The RROC and Trail Keepers are examples of the “Sedona Triad” model of solving problems. The public sector, business sector, and nonprofit sector come together to find new ways to address challenges of brought on by growth. Another example of this is the voluntary Fly Friendly Agreement which requests the two local helicopter tour companies to maintain safe flight paths that reduce noise over populated and sensitive areas.
I spoke on this model at the recent joint British Columbia Regional Tourism Summit / Global Sustainable Tourism Council Workshop. With patience, persistence, and passion for Red Rock Country that exists in all Sedonans’ DNA, we promise to continue to champion solutions that work for all.
-Candace Carr Strauss,