Chamber Supports Trail Fund



August 16, 2019


sunset-hike-by-aniruddh-nayakSurprising fact: federal funds pay for less than 25 percent of the cost of maintaining our world-famous trail system, and the percentage keeps getting lower.

The shortfall is one reason Chamber businesses support the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund, an enthusiastic and capable band of hikers, bikers, equestrians and outdoor enthusiasts raising money to protect our priceless trails. When the Western Gateway Trail project broke ground last November, the SRRTF was there, organizing volunteer days and providing construction funding with partner businesses.

Sedona residents make up 60 percent of trail users, including hundreds of Chamber partners, their employee and families. We’re vested in keeping our trails safe and in first-class condition.

This year, 35 Chamber businesses are donating a $1,000 each to the SRRTF, which the Chamber matches. Since we launched Trail Keepers donation program in 2017, we have generated $170,000 for trail maintenance and are aiming to raise more than $310,000 by 2021.

The SRRTF donates contributor dollars to the Red Rock Ranger District, which estimates annual trail maintenance costs at $425,000.

This year, we ramped up support by helping SRRTF land an Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona grant to attract even more business and community donations.

Amaryth Gass, co-founder and head coach of the Sedona Mountain Bike Academy and a licensed Master Social Worker with a background in wilderness therapy, has stepped into the part-time role funded by the grant.

“I am passionate about sustainable access to the outdoors and encouraging respect for our natural world,” Amaryth said. “Unless we capture financial support from everyone utilizing our trails, negative impacts will occur. The only way to do that is by rallying Sedona around a common goal.”

Making a difference doesn’t require a great sacrifice. SRRTF Board Member Kevin Adams points out that if 1,000 residents donate $25, 40 miles of trails will be improved that would otherwise be ignored under federal budget restrictions.

Unmaintained trails are more than an irritation – they can be a hazard. When Congress passed the Trail Stewardship Act in 2016, it designated the Sedona Trail System as one of only 15 high priority areas. Poorly cared-for trails, the Act states, can deny “access to public lands, increase environmental damage and threaten public safety.” Unmaintained trails are often closed, encouraging hikers to find their own way across the landscape, where they may unwittingly damage sensitive lands or inadvertently place themselves in danger. Closed trails also continue to deteriorate, becoming even more expensive to reopen.

That is the last thing we want to see in a sustainable Sedona.

Going forward sustainably requires more of us than just agreeing with lofty goals. Everyone interested in balancing our economy, quality of life, environment and visitor experience will be called upon to get involved and stay involved with the myriad activities and needs of building a sustainable culture.

The SRRTF is an excellent model for how resident volunteers can make a sustainability difference, and I’m proud so many Chamber partners support them. As we move ahead, I hope you seek opportunities to make your contribution to building a sustainable future.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO