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  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By Kevin Kuhl, USFS Red Rock Ranger District

    I started my last update by saying “This season has likely been one for the record books…”. Little did I know it would be for reasons not yet fully revealed from the cold and snowy skies. We got a lot of moisture this winter, maybe not record-breaking but certainly going down in the Trail Crew’s record book. While under normal circumstances this would have been well received, the white fluffy stuff didn’t make our lives any easier on the Cathedral Rock Renewal Project.

    During the two months the Trail Crew worked on the Cathedral project, we experienced snow, hail, freezing rain and thick ice – sometimes all in the same day! Even so, our Crews only missed a few days. And, the results were impressive: more than 320 ft of rock work, 700 ft of fencing and 800 ft of restoration work that included planting 200 native seed balls cultivated with assistance from our RRRD biologist.

    The efforts of our Forest Service crew were assisted by eight weeks of support from American Conservation Experience (ACE) crews, funded by the Great American Outdoors Act. Additional trail work below “the crack” was completed by Summit to Sea Trails Specialists. Summit to Sea addressed issues below a large slick rock drainage, reconstructed a 30-ft retaining wall, installed check steps for better access to “the crack”, and completed restoration work on user-created routes. The Cathedral project was also supported by Friends of Forest and The Westerners Hiking Club, who collaborated to provide user education while the trail closure was in force during February and March. Their contribution was key to our success.

    One silver lining to the weather was consistent soil moisture, which is massively important for the trail work we perform. Not only did this help our crews accomplish 200 miles of maintenance in the Red Rock District, but it also helped with our public volunteer events. We held 35 public and Friends of the Forest volunteer events, with 446 volunteers contributing ~2400 hours of maintenance. This volunteer labor is valued at ~$70,000 and is key to the success of our program and mission.

    In addition to our stellar volunteer numbers, we also diversified our public volunteer event sponsorship to include Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund, Verde Valley Cycling Coalition, Thunder Mountain Bikes, City of Sedona, Trail Lovers, Wildland Trekking, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Pink Jeep Tours, Enchantment Resort and Beaver Creek Trails Coalition. These additional sponsors provided awareness of our events to their social media followers, customers and employees – for deeper community engagement.

    The Red Rock District is now working on a plan for the new Verde Valley Circle Trail along with members of the Verde Front Trails Working Group. The proposal for this trail includes roughly 100 miles of non-motorized, single-track trail for hikers, equestrians, and bicycles that would circumnavigate the entire Verde Valley. The trail would connect users with the various communities and additional recreational opportunities in the Coconino and Prescott National Forests. Currently, the majority of the Prescott National Forest alignments are approved and in various stages of implementation. The conceptual design for the Coconino National Forest segment of the trail is being drafted by Summit to Sea Trails Specialists. They are working through various alignments proposed by the Red Rock Ranger District, Verde Valley Cycling Coalition and Beaver Creek Trails Coalition, looking at feasibility of construction, overall connectivity and other factors. Public scoping on this project has not occurred yet.

    Trail Crew removing rock falls on Hiline Trail after heavy winter storms.

    Red Rock Trail Crew using gas powered rock saw to shape sandstone for check step and retaining wall construction.

    Summit To Sea retaining wall and check step construction below “the crack”.

    Crew setting rocks for retaining wall.

    Volunteers assisting with tread maintenance and improving ground control on Feb. 11th.

    Canyon of Fools Volunteer event March 11th.

    Crew member carrying gallons of water for rock saw and their own personal gear up to Cathedral.

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    On April 3rd, the board of directors welcomed Amanda Maxwell as the 10th member of its board of directors.

    Amanda is a Sedona resident and avid member of the Sedona hiking, backpacking, and kayaking communities. She clocks hundreds of miles per year on the trails and rivers of Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Southern Utah. She currently serves as the Ranger (Forest Service Liaison) for the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club, and coordinated their volunteer efforts for the Cathedral Rock Trail Building Project of 2023.

    As a sculptor and career art educator, Amanda authored numerous Visual and Performing Arts grants for underserved student populations. As a member of the Red Rock Trail Fund Board, she contributes her grant writing skills to support the care and maintenance of the Sedona trails that she hikes every day.

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By Dick Williams, SRRTF Director

    Hang with me…this is way more interesting than it sounds!

    The Cathedral Rock trail work has been the subject of many articles, a two-month forest closure, and countless conversations wondering what was going on up there.  Although the finished product just blends right in, the process to get it there is more than just stacking rocks.

    Before beginning the project, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund was talking with the Forest Service about how best to get the work done given varying experiences of the incoming work crews. Trail construction here in the Red Rocks is nuanced, so we wanted to make sure the incoming work crews had both the basic skills and knowledge of the specialized techniques to source, cut, move and place the rocks needed to stabilize the new steps and harden the trails.

    We learned during the project design phase that there are somewhat different standards between Forest Service trails and National Park trails, the latter typically being more robust for higher usage and longer service life. National Park standards had been chosen for these trails, given their popularity, so it was determined the incoming work crews would benefit from some specialized training. Most importantly, not only would this training help complete Cathedral safely and efficiently, but it would give the crews skills they could use later in life.

    Enter Matt Roberts of Flagline Trails and his colleague Mark Loseth. Between them, a series of two-week programs was devised. Since most of the crew members would be new to Red Rock country, it was decided to teach both a fundamentals section and a Red Rock specific section.

    Flagline Trails trainers teaching the crew how to use string lines, line levels and tape measures to determine the rise and run of a project site.

    The first two weeks, completed late 2022, concentrated on general safety, tool usage, logistics, quarrying and moving and general rock placement. It turns out there are right and wrong ways to move rocks around a hillside. The second two weeks, completed at the beginning of the Cathedral Trail work in February, concentrated on the specifics needed to source and shape and place our Red Rocks. Turns out not all rocks or dirt are created the same.

    The entire effort was estimated to cost about $14,000. The SRRTF had already decided it was needed and worthwhile and had decided to fund it.  A chance lunch with Steve Langston, of the Langston Family Foundation, however, changed the funding source.

    The Langston Family Foundation has a been a long-time supporter of SRRTF and other local Sedona charities. Upon hearing of this training idea, Steve felt it was a very good opportunity for his family to provide a grant—especially since it benefited young people and gave them life skills for their future. Consequently, they provided $8,000 towards the training.

    The training was tremendously successful, and was met with enthusiasm from the crews. You could sense their excitement to get out on the project and try out their new found skills.

    Several weeks later, District Ranger Amy Tinderholt relayed some observations and appreciation to the SRRTF board for making the training possible. She noted that the crews truly appreciated the education, and for the first time they felt like someone was investing in their future. This result not only makes it all worthwhile, but also bodes well for attracting crew members to return for future assignments.

    Special thanks to the Langston Family Foundation for this show of generosity that will pay dividends for years to come.

    The SRRTF and the Forest Service are already exploring making this type of training an annual kick-off for the seasonal work crews.

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    The Sedona-based Red Rockers Meetup group is all about outdoor fun and making new friends – from kayaking, hiking and yoga to alfresco wine or beer tasting at local venues. For the uninitiated, Meetup is an online service used to create groups that host local in-person and virtual events. The platform has been around since 2002. As of 2017, they report 35 million users worldwide.

    The local Red Rockers is a public group (anyone can join) with close to 2,800 members. Local residency is not required and many members live elsewhere but enjoy jumping into the activities when in the area. The common denominator is an interest in enjoying outdoor recreation in Red Rock Country in the company of others.

    In February, as a give back to the trails that deliver so much enjoyment, the Red Rockers organized a fund-raising campaign for the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. One member offered to match dollar-for-dollar every donation collected in February and March, via a private website donation page that was set up by the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund staff.

    On at Meetup event on April 27th at Vino di Sedona, representatives of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund honored and thanked the group and their founder, Mike Coltrane, for bring in a total of $5,690. While most of the donations were from members in the Verde Valley, some came in from other states, including Illinois, Minnesota and Montana and California.

    Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund Director Dick Williams congratulated the members for their successful campaign. “Our 400+ mile trail system couldn’t be what it is today without support from generous donations from people like you. The heavy toll that the winter weather wrecked on the forest and trails added to the maintenance tasks for the trail crew – your contribution will help the US Forest Service trail crews with the cleanup.” Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund President Kevin Adams, VP Sandi Heysinger, and Program Director Camille Cox were also present to thank the members

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    The Sedona Westerners Hiking Club may be the most active users of the Red Rock trail system, and their appreciation certainly reflected that! The group raised a record $14,470 in the month of February for the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. Combined with the club’s annual Trail Keeper sponsorship which provides an additional $2,000 to the Trail Fund coffers this year – they accounted for a $16,470 boost to support the work of the USFS to maintain and enhance the trail system in the Red Rock Ranger District.

    In addition to supporting the trails with cash funding, the members have been providing public safety support for the USFS at the Cathedral Rock trailhead during the renovation. 

    At the Westerners March 9th meeting, Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund President Kevin Adams congratulated and thanked the members. “This group may appreciate better than any other the importance of maintaining our trail network. The toll of heavy use and nature itself is relentless – but the thrill of the experience just can’t be beat!”.  He added, “What the Westerners give back to the trails in time and treasure has a huge impact.”

    Photo: SRRTF VP Sandi Heysinger and President Kevin Adams present a certificate of appreciation to Sedona Westerners President Donna Forsythe and VP Ray LaPorte.

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 AM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By Kevin Adams, SRRTF President

    Did you know that the Verde Valley has provided shelter and sustenance to human cultures for thousands of years? When the first white settlers arrived in the Verde Valley in 19th century, they discovered the remains of ancient cultures, the largest of which are now protected as National Monuments. But large numbers of major and minor archaeology sites dot the landscape and remain unprotected and, in many cases, undocumented. These sites are protected by Federal law.

    Typically, when the Red Rock Ranger District wants to do a construction project (e.g., build a new trail), the District’s archaeologist must determine how to protect Native American archeological sites and historic properties. This may require surveying the project area and then consulting with the State Historic Preservation Office on the findings.

    To plan for a slate of proposed new trails in 2024, the Forest Service asked the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund to help fund the $157,000 cost for the legally requisite archaeological surveys. The organization successfully raised the full amount through SRRTF supporters.

    The Trail Fund then worked with forest archaeologists to contract with the firm Tetra Tech to conduct the surveys. The results, expected in August, will be used to protect cultural sites from trail construction impacts.

    To bring this work to life, we asked Tetra Tech’s archaeologist Katheryn “Kat” Turney a few questions.

    What it’s like to perform these surveys? “It is exhilarating, exhausting, completely all-encompassing and engrossing. It can be sunny or raining, hot or cold and most archaeologists will still enjoy survey. Let’s face it, it’s not a job, it is a life’s work and done with heart and a passion for those who came before us. We always want to know more, see more, experience more. It is a life of adventure.”

    What’s the most interesting thing you found during one of these surveys? “An intact floor in a cliff dwelling. It was if the people living there had just walked away yesterday. Doug Mitchell, my co-worker, had an interesting find while on an excavation in Calgary, Alberta. They were excavating a large buffalo kill. They had a 1 meter x 1 meter unit open and were cleaning up a vertebral column for photos. While working between two of the cervical, he heard a “click” on his trowel. He extracted what turned out to be a quartz crystal corner-notched projectile point. They later dated the bone bed to 8200 BC.”

    What was the strangest thing found during these surveys? “Fifteen office chairs, complete with wheels, each spaced out about 50 ft. apart, a dismembered baby doll, seven left shoes from different sized feet, a fish grave complete with aquarium set-up, and lots of golf balls in very remote places.” Makes you wonder what future archaeologist will think of our time.

    What should a lay person understand about your work? “Well, the obvious thing would be to say that we don’t do dinosaurs…but also that there is more to archaeology than just excavation. We survey, we monitor at construction sites, and most of us spend more time in the office or the lab writing reports, researching and conducting artifact analysis than we do in the field.”  

    Anything else? “We really dislike stacked rocks. It’s bad for the environment, messes with what is and is not a trail, and…. well, it irritates the crap out of us. Plain and simple, please don’t stack the rocks! If by chance you are lucky enough to find an artifact in the field, please take all the pictures you want and then leave it where you found it. An artifact out of context is not helpful to the archaeological record. Oh, and if you find something interesting, call me!”

    You can learn more about the human history Verde Valley at the Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum in Camp Verde.

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 AM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    Hikers and bikers on certain Red Rock trails during the week of April 10th had an opportunity to watch the lights-camera-action of a professional film crew creating a documentary on the work of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. The Los Angeles-based film crew and an international marketing firm are creating short documentary-style showcase pieces on inspirational land stewardship work being accomplished with volunteers.

    The final piece will explain the unique partnership between US Forest Service, Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund and Friends of the Forest that supports the demanding maintenance needs of the remarkable 400-mile system of non-motorized trails.  With a 10-member board of directors and a single staff member, the SRRTF has raised in excess of $2.4million since inception, all for the maintenance and enhancement of non-motorized trails in the Red Rock Ranger District

    “It was an exciting week working with our volunteers and local spokespersons to share our story in such a way that might inspire vision and volunteerism in other parts of the country”, says Kevin Adams, president of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund.  He added, “From all indicators – the hikers and bikers, young and old, really enjoyed the added entertainment value as well.”

    The 40+ person production and agency management team lodged at Sedona Real Inn and Suites (one of our generous Trail Keeper sponsors), and raved about meals enjoyed at Rascal, Rene’s, Mooney’s and Stagecoach Sedona.

  • 19 Apr 2023 6:49 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    Keep Sedona Beautiful (KSB) honored the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund and our president, Kevin Adams, with their Award of Excellence for Environmental Stewardship.

    Each year, KSB identifies organizations, businesses and individuals who have made significant contributions to the community.

    We thank all our donors, partners and grantors for making the work we do possible!

  • 3 Feb 2023 12:00 AM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    I am pleased to report that our year-end quarterly fundraising drive brought in a record $281,360 (all sources) towards our many projects on the docket for 2023. Every contribution plays a meaningful part in maintaining the trail system – THANK YOU

    The success of the year-end campaign completes the last of the strategic goals from the business plan adopted in 2018. The dedication and excellent work of our board of directors is to be commended. As a team, they met or exceed all of our stated intentions, experimented, learned and grew as an organization. My gratitude to each of them for their service. 

    Our executive committee for 2023 is laying the foundation of our next 5-year strategic plan. During the next few months, the board of directors will finalize that plan, with implementation scheduled for our next fiscal year (October 1st).

    A key organizational development goal from the last plan was to bring on a paid professional staff member to take us to the next level. I am pleased to announce that on December 1st, Camille Cox officially joined our team as program director. She will be assisting our three standing committee chairs with their activities and assuming chairmanship of one of the committees sometime in March.

    This new position – and the opportunity it opens up for the SRRTF – was made possible through a grant from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund.

    Please enjoy the revamped design of our quarterly newsletter and the variety of articles reporting on the projects made possible through your generosity.

  • 3 Feb 2023 12:00 AM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    Phase 4 to Complete in March

    The final stretch of the ambitious restoration project for Cathedral Rock Trail is underway, and with cooperation from Mother Nature, it should be complete and open by early April.

    This last section of Phase Four is the endpoint of a project that started in the Fall of 2021. This final push involves the uppermost area from Switchback Staircase to End of Trail. 

    Steep, Tough Terrain  Cathedral Rock Trail has many unique qualities that make it a place like no other in the Coconino National Forest. Erosive soils, steep terrain, slick rock, and frequent "washouts" make it particularly challenging to Forest Service trail managers. It presents specific exceptional requirements for rock construction not seen elsewhere in the Red Rock Ranger District. Although rock work is always intensive and time-consuming, the conditions on Cathedral are extreme.

    Particularly daunting is the challenge of moving essential heavy equipment uphill each day. Forrest Gale and Tommy Cogger, Summit to Sea consultants who are working with the USFS on the project, explain, "In our experience in the southwest, we compare this style/technique and caliber of trail building to what you find on the Grand Canyon trails. All of the equipment is hauled up by hand, on the backs of workers and on a rock dolly.”

    Kevin Kuhl, trails/wilderness/OHV coordinator for the Red Rock Ranger District, provided the following update. “Crews are currently gearing up by installing new fencing at the junction of the Cathedral Rock and Templeton trails. This will provide for transition from the open, slick rock terrain on Templeton. It will also better delineate the trail alignment of Cathedral, and reduce redundant social trail alignments on the beginning of the Cathedral slick rock climb. Once the project starts, crews will focus on safely rigging rock to efficiently move it to the construction areas. Then the rock splitting and shaping will start for new check step construction.”

    Trail Closure and Re-Opening  According to Kuhl, schedule limitations affecting the American Conservation Experience youth corps crew supporting the project pushed their start date back by a week, impacting completion of the USFS crew work until the end of March.

    The lower 0.2-mile portion of the trail from Cathedral Rock trailhead to the Templeton junction will be open to the public for the full duration of the project. The upper 0.3-mile portion of the trail – from the Templeton Junction to the terminus – will remain closed from February 1st to March 31st, unless work is completed earlier and all hazards related to this work are mitigated. He added, “We anticipate volunteer assistance from the Westerners Hiking Club and Friends of the Forest to help us educate the public about the ongoing Forest Closure Order of Cathedral Rock Trail”.

    Funding Still Needed to Bridge the Chasm  The project got off the ground financially when the USFS received money from the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020. As that funding was insufficient to cover the cost, the USFS partnered with the SRRTF to raise what was needed to complete the project. This has been largely achieved through remarkably generous support of private donors and grants.

    “Significant donations from the National Forest Foundation ($27,100), Enchantment Resort ($15,000), the Sedona Westerners 2022 Trail Fund Campaign ($10,000+), Kahtoola ($8,000) and 66 other donors, have closed the funding gap to $69,760,” stated Kevin Adams, SRRTF president. He added, “We’re urging the community to help bring this project to full, successful closure by March 1st”.

    All donations are tax-deductible, and easy to make at On the home page, you can choose to donate specifically to the Cathedral Rock Trail, and your full donation will be used for that project.

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