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  • 25 Oct 2023 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    In November, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund is kicking off a year of activities to raise public awareness of the organization’s mission and to celebrate their 10-year anniversary.

    Veterans Volunteer Public Lands Work Day

    The first celebration event is a special opportunity for local veterans to spend a few hours working together on the Soldiers Pass restoration project.

    This Red Rock Ranger District Volunteer Work Day is being sponsored by the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. It starts at 8:30 am at east side parking lot of Posse Grounds Park and will be led by USFS staff. No special skills or knowledge is needed – all tools, safety equipment and instruction will be provided.  Participants need only arrive in work clothes and sturdy footwear.

    Veterans tribute picnic at Posse Grounds

    Afterwards, starting at noon at the Posse Grounds, all veterans are invited to a free picnic with food and beverages. There will be a live local band, raffle prizes and a special tribute to all veterans for their service.

    From $0 to $3,000,000 in less than a decade

    In 2013, a small group of citizens, trail lovers, USFS staff and local government representatives convened monthly meetings that lasted a year in an effort to find a solution to the perennial government funding shortfall for trail maintenance. It was recognized that federal allocations could never support the demands of a recreational trail system that would meet the needs of the public, the residents and the ecosystem. From these discussions, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund was established as a non-profit entity, with a mission to raise funding to support the planning and ensure sustainability of the non-motorized trails in the areas surrounding Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.

    This volunteer-led group works hand in hand with USFS officials to forecast the ways and means to accomplish the essential recreational trail maintenance, renovation, and enhancements, year after year.

    In the decade since inception, with impressive support from local businesses and individual donors, the trail fund has raised in excess of than $3 million. In fiscal year 2023, just ended September 30, the group successfully raised $656,405 (see chart).

    Challenges on the Horizon

    Compounding the impacts of increased usage, expansion of system trail miles and extreme weather – inflation, labor cost and shortages have further squeezed the USFS capacity. The annual budget for trail maintenance for the Sedona area is now approaching $1 million!

    Keeping pace with those needs, the SRRTF has approved a 5-year strategic plan that includes new ideas for tapping visitor donations, boosting its endowment fund, and providing donors with more options for recurring donations and planned giving.

    In November and December, the SRRTF will be reaching out to the public to support its annual year-end drive, with a goal of raising $175,000. All donations are tax-deductible and the first $15,000 received by December 31 will be matched by donor pledges.

    About Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF)

    The organization’s mission is to gather donations to maintain and enhance the non-motorized National Forest trails in the greater Sedona area, and to educate the public regarding their use and management. The Cooperative Funds Act of 1914 authorizes the USFS to accept money from organizations such as the SRRTF.  SRRTF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and an Official Partner of the US Forest Service Red Rock Ranger District.

  • 25 Sep 2023 12:59 PM | Anonymous

    The Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund held its annual meeting on September 6th, which involved approval of a 5-year strategic plan and election of directors and officers.

    The strategic plan officially expanded the mission of the organization to include trail user education, in addition to fund raising for the maintenance and enhancement of the 411 miles of trails within and surrounding Sedona and Village of Oak Creek.

    The three new board directors – Dreama Aldredge, Amanda Maxwell and Kelley Malek, are all avid trail users have all become engaged committee members. Dreama has joined the community outreach committee, Amanda the grants committee and Kelley the philanthropy committee. They will each serve 2-year terms. (shown in photo L-R: Dreama Aldredge, Amanda Maxwell and Kelley Malek)

    We asked them to share a few words about their attraction to Sedona and what inspired them to join the board.

    Dreama Aldredge and her family began visiting Sedona and the surrounding communities in the 1990’s. Immediately realizing what a spectacularly unique area this was, she and her husband purchased a home here in 2001, moving here full-time in 2009. For the last 14 years she has hit the Red Rock trails almost daily either on horseback, hiking or jeeping. Having volunteered for many non-profit organizations, her most recently held positions have been focused on tourism and fund-raising. By working to achieve the goals of the SRRTF, Dreama hopes to share the joy and magnificence of this area with her grandchildren for years to come.

    Kelley Malek is a retired geoscientist with a passion for hiking among the beautiful, unique Red Rocks of the Sedona area. She serves on the board of the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club and is the Hike Boss of the Sunday hiking group. When not hiking, Kelley enjoys backpacking, kayaking, playing the piano, and spending time with family and her beloved dog. She started living part-time in Sedona in 2014 and moved here full-time in 2021.

    Amanda Maxwell 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 Project in 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.

    In addition to the new board members, the board also re-elected three officers: Kevin Adams, president (2-year term); Mark Bealafed, treasurer (2-year term), Dick Williams, secretary (1-year term). Vice president Sandi Heysinger will be serving the second of her 2-year term.

    At the conclusion of the meeting Kevin Adams remarked, “Our current board is the most experienced since I joined and became president in 2018”. He added “It’s an eclectic mix of time-honored and new directors with diverse backgrounds, trail use preferences and experiences who are committed to the SRRTF’s mission. I can’t wait to see what this board will accomplish!”

  • 1 Sep 2023 9:08 PM | Anonymous

    In August and September of each year the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF) works with the Red Rock Ranger District staff to understand and solve the funding gaps for the District’s priority projects in Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek areas. For fiscal year 2024 (begins October 1, 2023), three renovation projects have been defined and budgeted to date, with more to be added pending approvals from the USFS. These special projects are in addition to routine maintenance and upkeep for the trail system that is also supported with funding from SRRTF.

    Schnebly Hill Trail has a major section that was washed out and destroyed due to erosion and historic flooding. One hundred feet of trail benching are needed to reconstruct the trail as it contours the hillside. An extensive amount of rock work will be done to construct drainage systems and sustainable tread, including 100 feet of retaining walls and rock armoring and 10 drainage structures. Workers will backfill the quarry site and revegetate disturbed soils. Cash Cost: $18,500.

    Cathedral Rock Trail – Phase 5.  Restoration has been in progress for five years, and requires another segment to build 20 giant rock steps, additional retaining walls, drainage structures, fencing and more work on “the crack” to direct hikers to the designated trail corridor. Severe weather events during the 2023 work season prevented completion, as crew members were unable to scramble on ice covered slickrock to the higher elevation work zones. To complete the final steps, it will be necessary to quarry rock from adjacent sources. Cash cost. $114,000.

    Soldier Pass Trail has sustained critical damage from overuse, illegal Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use and erosion from severe weather. It needs new staircases, effective drainage routes and solutions for restricting users to the trail. The trail tread must be raised to prevent further decomposition of soil and rock crush, and to create a durable surface for sustainable use. To remedy these problems, new rock structures will be installed and reparations to some existing structures. Social trail junctions will be eliminated. By the numbers: roughly 1,500 feet of fencing, 150 feet of rock work, and a half acre of restoration work in the adjacent areas next to the system trail. This is a 6-week project that will involve no trail closures. Cash Cost: $51,000.

    New Business Supporters   In July the Trail Fund launched a new business partnership to raise funds to keep our trails safe and sustainable. Nine local businesses joined the program in the first few weeks - SNAP Fitness, Sedona Golf Resort, PJ’s Village Pub, Bell Rock Veterinary Clinic (Dr. Rachelle Jarvis), Trail Running Escapes, Gayle’s Chocolates, Ace Home Services, Red Rock Balloon Adventures, Helios Health AZ Direct Primary Care & Wellness (Dr. Jason Wesley). In addition to providing much needed financial support, these businesses are now a point of distribution for our new print trail guide on staying safe and maximizing your fun on the trails.

    Photo: One of the major FY24 projects in the Red Rock Ranger District is the Schnebly Hill Trail that was washed due to extreme weather. One hundred feet of trail benching are needed to reconstruct the trail as it contours the hillside at an estimated cost of $18,481.

  • 17 Aug 2023 1:56 PM | Anonymous

    The Park & Ride lots are operated by the City of Sedona to help mitigate the traffic and parking snarls in the Back O’ Beyond, Soldiers Pass and other neighborhoods by providing recreationists a free, easy and safe way to access popular trailheads. In operation since spring break 2022, as of April 2023 more than a quarter million passengers have been served.

    The information stations feature the same USFS approved maps and messaging that are displayed at the trailheads throughout the Red Rock Ranger District. The cost for the three stations was $6,100, not including installation which was provided by city staff.

    “The idea came to us that while waiting for the bus, recreationists could use the time to get oriented, consider the many options at the trailhead and learn about safety, courtesy and forest stewardship”, explains Sandi Heysinger, vice president of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. “It turned out the City already had a similar approach in mind, so our collaboration went very smoothly. In addition to raising funds for the maintenance and enhancement of the non-motorized trails in the Red Rock District surrounding Sedona, we also support select user education projects, and this collaboration with the City’s shuttle program was a perfect fit.”

    “We were delighted to embark on this collaboration with the Red Rock Trail Fund (RRTF)”, says Robert Weber, transit administrator for the City of Sedona. He added, “With over 300,000 passenger boardings on the trailhead shuttle system each year, it is our hope that this effort will help to educate our visitors on environmental stewardship and hiker safety while providing them with the opportunity to give back to our trails with their donations to the RRTF.”

  • 10 May 2023 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    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 PM | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 | Anonymous

    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 AM | Anonymous

    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.

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