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Eye on Sedona with City Councilman Michael Ward


Submitted by the City of Sedona and authored by City Councilman Mike Ward

Sedona AZ (October 23, 2013)There exists a symbiotic relationship between our city and the Red Rock Ranger District (RRRD). Being completely surrounded by, and with nearly half of the land within the city limits comprised of national forest land, this relationship is important to both our quality of life and the economic health of our business community. Several recent actions by the city and the RRRD have served to enhance our cooperative relationship as well as enhancing the local tourist economy.

Firstly, since the late 1990’s, the RRRD, and the city have worked together to improve and maintain the non-motorized trail system on national forest lands adjacent to and within the City of Sedona. For the past year, the city has had a volunteer citizen work group that in cooperation with the RRRD, is identifying problem social trails used by our residents and visitors as connectors between various forest service trails that trespass on private property. That work group is in the process of recommending possible solutions to the city as well as potential trail rerouting by the forest service to enhance trail connectivity within the city limits and preserve private property rights of our citizens.

Secondly, for the past 15 years, the city and the RRRD have had a Collection Agreement, which allows the city to fund projects on the national forest that benefit our community. In September, the City Council approved a five-year extension of this Collection Agreement. The city and the RRRD have met annually to identify cooperative projects benefiting the trail system in and around the city. For several years during the economic downturn, there were no city funds available for these projects.

Increasing public use of our trail system coupled with annual monsoon rain erosion requires regular trail maintenance on the RRRD’s 300 miles of trails around Sedona. Federal budget cuts have forced the forest service to find creative ways to conserve our trails. In FY 2013 the city approved funding a portion of an “Adopt a Trail Program” proposed by the RRRD. Under the program, the forest service provides trail planning, maintenance and management training for city residents and city employees. The goal of the “Adopt-a-Trail” program is to involve individual volunteers and groups in trail and trailhead maintenance to help care for the trails and trailheads close to their neighborhoods. This year, the City Council also approved an expenditure of $30,000 to help fund the second year of the RRRD Adopt-a-Trail program. This year’s funding by the city covers half of the cost for a forest service program coordinator and miscellaneous supplies and equipment for volunteers.

Coconino Flagstaff Red Rock forest zonesFinally, in June 2013, the RRRD staff and the local mountain biking community presented the City Council with a concept for the Bike Skills Park to be located at the Posse Grounds. The mountain biking community offered to raise the estimated $30,000 for the park design. Over the past several years, there has been an increased pressure by the National Forest Service on the RRRD to provide more mountain biking opportunities in Sedona. As more biking trails have been added, an increasing number of family groups, including children, have been coming to Sedona to enjoy the mountain biking opportunities. Local bike shop owners have reported an increasing demand for classes to teach children and young adults proper mountain bike riding techniques. What is missing is a safe and functional place to teach mountain bike skills for enthusiasts ranging from beginners to advanced bikers.

City staff and community members are supportive of a natural landscaped bike park to be located within Posse Grounds Park adjacent to the Jack Malmgren Skate Park and the Barbara Antonsen Park. This area is preferred because it has many geographical assets that could be used to develop a range of bike park terrain features, from a simple pump track to expert gravity flow trails. The multi-level nature of the park would allow users to enter or exit a feature at their ability and comfort level. The undeveloped land in Posse Grounds Park contains some gentle terrain, but most of the area is on a moderate to steep hillside. This terrain limits the types of recreational amenities that could be built there if the intention is to keep it as natural as possible.

At the October 8 City Council meeting, the Council gave direction to staff to move forward with the project at the Posse Grounds site. This enables the local biking community to begin raising the necessary funds for the Bike Skills Park design costs. The city’s Capital Improvement Plan has identified $110,000 to be spent over a two year period for the park’s future construction.

These projects are just some of the examples of a long term and continuing cooperative working relationship between the city and the RRRD that both benefit the environment and the city’s economic health.

The views that I am expressing are my personal opinions and not necessarily the opinion or position of the City of Sedona or the City Council.

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For the best in Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!




  1. Warren says:

    “Federal budget cuts have forced the forest service to find creative ways to conserve our trails.”

    This is the usual misinfo from the USFS and their apologists. It does not correlate to reality however.

    After years and years of steady increases in the USFS budget — 60% between 2000 and 2008 for example — the Great Recession kicked in and appropriations have been pretty much frozen at that level ever since. Not my idea of “Federal budget cuts”.

  2. And to thank the locals who spend countless hours volunteering, clearing trails, picking up trash… they repay us by locking the bathroom stalls. Thank you. What else can we do to help? A fed up American

  3. sharlett says:

    Nice try Council Man Mike – to defuse the real issues you are elected and very responsible for – away from your seeming passion. How about having same passion for the taxpayers and how about getting this out of tune city back on track?

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