The World Bank Recognizes the Red Rock Ranger District



November 15, 2019


Guide Books“With the right policies in place, tourism can contribute directly to the conservation of natural areas and habitats by bringing visitors to protected areas to learn, participate and support local economies.” The World Bank Group.

Bravo! It would be hard to find a more concise statement of how thoughtfully managed tourism can benefit the economy and the local environment.

The World Bank included our own Red Rock Ranger District among just a handful of global success stories – the only one selected in all North America – in their recent report on stimulating sustainable development through tourism.

The 82-page study praises the District’s permitting process that requires companies to meet strict environmental and economic criteria to operate jeep tours, hot air balloon rides, hiking tours, metaphysical jaunts and other activities in the 536,000 protected acres of the Coconino National Forest surrounding Sedona. The District goal is to offer users8 unparalleled access to our natural wonders while minimizing environmental impact and generating income for conservation.

How does District Ranger Amy Tinderholt’s team do it? As with the Sustainable Tourism Plan, the key is balance.

The District weighs whether outfitters can align with the US Forest Service mission and whether their businesses support the local economy, such as through employment.  Applications are reviewed by a team that incudes specialists in biology, archaeology and soil science.

The permits are good for two years and are renewed for eight years unless there is proof of poor performance. This lengthy period and the promise of a ten-year renewal encourages the 48 permit holders to become land management partners, not just concessionaires.

The proof is in the results. Today, seven permit holders maintain more than 100 miles of USFS roads they and the public use every day. Jeep tour companies donate money and time for trail construction and maintenance. For example, Pink Jeep Tours provides the maintenance of Broken Arrow Road, and Red Rock Western Jeep Tours provides the maintenance for Soldiers Pass, both collective efforts in coordination with the USFS.

The District trains outfitters to educate clients to respect Red Rock country, a critical element in Sedona’s sustainable tourism drive.  Permittees pay the USFS a percent of gross revenues from their Forest activities, generating approximately $860,000 for conservation in 2017. The winners are our public lands, permittees, their clients, and all of us who value sustainability and love getting into the great Sedona outdoors.

The District has been a fantastic partner to Sedona for decades, fully engaged on important issues and strongly supporting the Sustainable Tourism Plan.  Today, the Chamber works with the District and the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund to continually raise money for trail preservation.

District Ranger Tinderholt, newly arrived from the Northwest, is already a key participant of the Sustainable Tourism Action Committee (STAC), the group making the Plan happen. We are thrilled by Amy’s instant love for Sedona and her commitment to getting things done.

Congratulations to the Red Rock Ranger District and Sedona’s permit holders. You are leading the way in responsible, sustainable, balanced land management. Your international recognition is well-deserved.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO