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

    Each issue we invite a supporter to share with us their enthusiasm for the Red Rock trail "experience".  Mei Lin, a resident of Tucson who travels here frequently, recently contacted us about how she could help. She chose to make a year-end contribution toward filling the funding funding gap for the Cathedral Rock Trail project.

    How did you discover our Red Rock country, and what about it inspires you?  I'd heard of the beauty of the Red Rock country in recent years and when I moved to Tucson in the summer of 2020, the stars aligned in September for me to take a drive up to Sedona. When I arrived into town, I remember being awed and mesmerized by the stunning immense natural beauty, and I made a note to myself "one day, I will buy a house here". I tell friends, family and anyone who asks about my love for this place, that anytime I arrive into town I immediately feel better – at peace, grounded and relaxed.

    Tell us about your favorite trails, and what you love most about them?  I love hiking out on the trails – this place is like a candy store for nature lovers! I love finding trails that are lesser known/not frequented as much by tourists. Recently, my favorite trails are Trancept, because of the expansive 360 views, and Wilson's Canyon Trail, because at the end of the trail is a short little climb popping out of the canyon and being immersed in the red rocks.

    There are so many great causes, why do you choose to support the mission of the Trail Fund?  I love giving back to causes that bring me so much joy so that others may also have an opportunity to have the same experience. I tell people that a hike in the Red Rock country is one of the best prescriptions.

  • 28 Dec 2022 7:45 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By: Jennifer Burns, Camille Cox and Kevin Adams. Photo credits: SRRTF

    “Looking at the history provides an understanding of the “big leaps” that have been made in successful recreation management in the red rock ecosystem. I think the keys are: effective public education and involvement, decision makers lining up in partnership, experienced leaders with big picture vision who are willing to take risks, delegate and push the vision forward.” – Jennifer Burns, Director SRRTF

    The Forest Service has the double challenge of conserving a sensitive and unique ecosystem, while providing National Forest access for nearly 3 million trail users annually.

    In the late 80’s/early 90’s, the Forest Service fell behind the juggernaut of tourism and forest recreation use. Unmanaged recreation and an inadequate trail system spawned a web of eroded and damaging “user-created” routes and ad hoc, unsafe parking areas. Uncontrolled camping, tree cutting and off-road driving also contributed to soil and vegetation damage in areas that are prized for their scenic beauty. High profile land trades caught the public’s attention.

    Local Interests Address Challenges  Around 1995, a summit of local stakeholders (Sedona Forum) focused on these challenges and set the stage for a new management approach.  The Friends of the Forest (FOF) was created as a volunteer engine, and a new District management perspective) set the stage for Forest Plan Amendment in 1998.  That new policy prioritized day-use activities: it prohibited camping in areas surrounding Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek, prohibited off-road driving in the 160,000 acres considered the “red rock ecosystem”, and called for an extensive trail system to provide access to the wonders of the Red Rocks. There was a near complete prohibition on land swaps, a shift in protocols with commercial tours, and “contemplative” benefits were recognized and appreciated for the first time.

    Capacity, Maintenance and Sustainability

    Unfortunately, trail related maintenance funding remained chronically short and demand for trail mileage outpaced planning for additional trails. Several illegal trail builders were brought to court during this time.  A mountain bike closure order (to cross-country travel) was applied to sensitive areas where illegal trail building continued.  These actions, along with a targeted public education campaign, convinced many locals that the time had come for proper planning for sustainable trails.

    The Forest Service suffered limited capacity to conduct much needed trail maintenance or address even a fraction of the growing deferred “heavy” trail maintenance.  District funding and staffing were in a growth mode, but gains suffered from hiring hurdles and poor public comprehension of need.  The trail system was “falling apart” as impacts and use exploded.

    How much trail is enough?  Continued Forest Service support resulted in significant new mileage to the official trail system – reducing the gap between demand and supply. This rapid trail development, however, compounded the problem of limited maintenance capacity and triggered the question: how much trail is enough?  Particularly from a hydrology and wildlife perspective, the future amount and location of trails became a cumulative effect question. More trail master planning was needed.

    The Master Plan for the Red Rock Trail System  In 2013, the District received a grant that funded a professional facilitator for a master plan effort. Monthly meetings brought together the public, who had interests in trails, with the Forest Service, who manages the trails.  This process boosted public understanding of the unique and fragile ecosystem of the Red Rock landscape, and informed the equally important task of gathering public ideas for future development.

    During the process, local residents could see the impact of Forest Service funding limits and pursued a “sustainable recreation initiative” – a new policy directing that “trails should not be built if they cannot be maintained”.

    Local Residents Take the Challenge  A small group of Sedona area residents decided to take significant action. They noted the economic and health benefits of the local trails to residents of Sedona and the Verde Valley. They comprehended the Forest Service limitations regarding the pace of trail development and cost of maintenance, appreciating that trail development would continue to be severely limited unless the public stepped up to help in a substantial way. This group formed the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF), a 501(c)3 non-profit in November 2013. Since then, the SRRTF has raised over $2.7M for trail maintenance and enhancements.

    What now?  The trail master planning session of 2013-14 prioritized 12 mini-landscapes within the bigger Red Rock ecosystem that share similar social and environmental features.  Many of those landscapes have been completed (e.g., Western Gateway) and several are on the horizon to be addressed in future columns.  You can learn more about the SRRTF at https://redrocktrailfund.org/.

  • 28 Dec 2022 7:29 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)
     Final phase of $188,000 project begins Dec. 22, Enchantment donation closes the funding gap to $69,740 –

    Sedona, AZ (December 16, 2022)  The fourth and final phase of a $188,000 restoration project for Cathedral Rock Trail, one of the Sedona area’s most visited

    recreation destinations, is slated for completion by March 23rd, 2023.  On December 13th, the Enchantment Resort’s Managing Director Stan Kantowski presented the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund with a $15,000 donation to help close the funding gap for completion of the project.

    “Enchantment Resort’s longstanding support to honor and preserve our Red Rock country and its trails, which is coming up to its third decade, is instrumental in our ability to partner with the Forest Service on projects such as the Cathedral Rock Trail” stated Kevin Adams, SRRTF president. “I’m thrilled to see this project come to completion in the upcoming months via Enchantment and other generous donors’ support”.

    Enchantment’s Managing Director Stan Kantowski added, “Enchantment Resort and its team prides itself on ensuring the longevity of Sedona's natural surroundings in order to allow coming generations to share the same experience and opportunity for exploration.  Over 20 years ago, the property created Boynton Canyon Foundation that supports development and maintenance of the trails in the greater Sedona area.  Part of the proceeds from every tour offered at the Resort is allocated to that Fund.  We were fortunate to be able to support many projects via Red Rock Trail Fund, Chamber of Commerce and other groups and supporting efforts of USFS team. We are truly honored to be able to be a part of the restoration of the Cathedral Rock Trail, the iconic Sedona rock formation." 

    Beginning in late December, trail crews will start work to restore parts of Upper Cathedral Rock Trail, from the switchback staircase to end of the trail, that requires intensive reconstruction.  Equipment and materials will be manually hauled to the work sites. Rock will be harvested on site, cut and shaped by hand.

    Cathedral Rock Trail has unique qualities that make it a place like no other in the Coconino National Forest, including specific rock construction not seen elsewhere in the district.  Erosive soils, steep terrain, slick rock and frequent washouts make it particularly challenging.  Rock work is always intensive and time-consuming, but conditions on Cathedral are extreme.

    This reconstruction project required specialized expertise of professional trail consultants, USFS work crews and Youth Conservation Corps workers trained in trail restoration.  Materially, it required 1,400 feet of fencing, 350 feet of rock work, new signage and cairns.

    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.

    In 2013, the SRRTF was established by local citizens to address the critical need for ongoing maintenance to protect the renowned trails in the Sedona area.  With the support of residents, businesses, government entities and non-profits, the SRRTF has raised in excess of $2.7 million to date. 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. 

  • 1 Dec 2022 12:31 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By: Kevin Adams. Photo by permission: USFS Red Rock Ranger District

    As we discussed last month, the Red Rock Ranger District (RRRD) contains more than 400 miles of non-motorized trails with over 300 of those miles in close proximity to the city of Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. This field work season, with funding help from the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF), the Forest Service was able to hire 16 seasonal workers – 12 on the non-motorized trail crew. These crews augmented with volunteers, youth crews and rock artSedona Red Rock Trail Fund maintenance and enhancement projects for Winter 2022 Season.isans will work over the next 4-5 months maintaining and enhancing our trails. With more than 3 million visitors on theses trails annually, the trail crew’s work is vital to the recreational experience of all the different trail users.

    • December 3rd at the Mescal Trailhead
    • December 10th at the Girdner Trailhead by the Cultural Center
    • December 15th at the Girdner Trailhead

    Volunteer Workdays   The RRRD holds volunteer workdays on select Thursdays and Saturday mornings during the field season. These workdays are an opportunity to make new friends, give back, and share in camaraderie. Après workday refreshments are provided by generous local business and non-profit sponsors. Workdays start at 8:30 AM, finish a little after noon and you can join in the fun on…

    Trail Enhancements    In addition to maintaining 250-300 miles of non-motorized trails this season, the non-motorized trail crew will be finishing up the rock work on the Upper Cathedral Rock Trail. The Trail Crew, augmented by rock artisans under contract with the SRRTF and youth conservation corps funded through Great Americans Outdoor Act funding, will be working on this project between December and March 2023. During December, equipment and materials will be hauled to the work sites by hand along with basic tools of pickaxes and shovels in preparation for work to begin in the new year. Rock will again be harvested on site, to be cut and shaped by hand. The work will involve 350’ of rock work, 1,400’ of fencing, social trail closure and restoration as well as new signage and cairn installation. Reconstruction involves specific engineering considerations for water flow, along with tread and rise that suit hikers.

    Other Projects Funded by STRRF This Season 

    Comprehensive Trail Assessment – you may have run into a team assessing the trails this fall. With the heavy monsoon season this past two summers that carried over into the fall this year our trails have suffered. The SRRTF contracted with Flagline Trails, LLC to conduct a comprehensive field assessment and develop recommendations for future maintenance for the heaviest used trails (~200 miles) near Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. This work will produce a comprehensive 3-4 year plan that the RRRD will use as a key tool used to plan out the work.

    Red Rock Trail Census Project – this unique and strategic project will count users and collect information about current trail usage in the RRRD. Recognizing that trail usage has changed over time, RRRD seeks to identify current variations through specific data collection and understand the impact of current trends so to better address and serve the needs created by these changes.

    The project will provide Forest Service managers and partners with improved data about trails that can be used in future budgeting, staffing, grant seeking, enhanced public service, and more targeted maintenance. Information from this project will contribute to the development of an improved Trail Maintenance Plan for the RRRD. The project was initiated through a Forest Service request of the SRRTF to assist in funding/organizing a project to update non-motorized trail metrics.

    RRRD Archaeologic Survey for Red Rock Ranger District – The Forest Service seeks to improve the non-motorized trail system within the RRRD. Prior to making certain improvements in specific areas, archaeological surveys much be conducted in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act. The SRRTF released a request for quotation in late October to physical survey almost 1,900 acres for six proposed projects near Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. Field work is scheduled to begin in the new year.

    To learn about these and other projects the SRRTF is working on, please visit their website at www.redrocktrailfund.org.  

  • 1 Nov 2022 5:40 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    The Red Rock Ranger District contains more than 400 miles of trail with over 300 of those miles in close proximity to the city of Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. With more than 3 million visitors on theses trails annual, the trail crew’s work is vital to the recreational experience of all the different trail users.  For many local residents and visitors, the trail system is reason we’re here.  The Forest Service works with numerous volunteers, non-profit groups, and local governments to maintaining and enhancing trails throughout the district in a sustainable and safe manner that is uniquely tailored to the Sedona and Verde Valley area. 

    Below: Friends of the Forest trail maintenance and construction crew building retaining walls along Easy Breezy to reinforce trails from monsoon floods

    Left: Volunteers reconstructing a drainage crossing on Stirrup trail







    Summary of Accomplishments

    During the Fall 2021-Spring 2022 trail season, a combination of workers from the Forest Service, Conservation Legacy (Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps), Friends of the Forest, Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition, Summit to Sea Trails Specialist LLC, and many other individual volunteers completed extensive maintenance improvements of non-motorized trails in the Red Rock Ranger District.
    • 411 total miles of trail on the Red Rock Ranger District
    • 284 miles in the Sedona/Village of Oak
    • 275 miles of trail maintenance completed during the 2022 field season 
    • 3440 ft. of retaining walls built and armoring.
    • 122 rock stairs installed.
    • 3.7 miles of social trail naturalized. 
    • 1788 drainage structures newly constructed and/or maintained.
    • 115 trail signs and junction maps installed.
    • 2 kiosks installed
    • 36 new kiosk maps, section maps, and Trail Keepers signs posted at trailheads
    • 37 new cairns constructed
    • 74 old style cairns removed
    • 2000 feet of fencing constructed
    • 550 volunteers (Friends of the Forest and public)
    • 3,400 total volunteer hours donated to district trail work.
    • 3,100 volunteer hours in the Sedona/VOC area dedicated to trail maintenance and construction.
    • $98,600 total value of labor provided by volunteers during the trail season 
    • 49 public trail work events with an average of 10-15 volunteers attending each event. 

       

    Crews rebuilt this retaining wall adjacent to the culverts on Bell Rock Pathway, this damage was from monsoon storms summer 2021 (Above-Before, Below-After)


    Youth Conservation Corps (ACE, AZCC, ALC) Youth Conservation Corps make up an important workforce for the district by preforming trail maintenance and heavy construction. All of these crews are funded out of grants that the district and its partners have put together or through Great American Outdoors Act funding. This year’s focus area was heavy maintenance and reconstruction on the Cathedral Rock trail with Ancestral Lands Corps (ALC).  Total crew times consisted of 4 weeks of an 8 person ALC crew. The crews built over 2000 feet of new fencing to delineate the trail, 300 ft. of rock armored stairs, and 6 rock armored drainage dips and rehabbed 3000 feet of social trails. A total of 12 youth workers assisted the trail crew during the season as part of the Corps skills training and education program.

    Friends of the Forest (FOF) The FOF Trail Maintenance and Construction crew (TM&C) has a cadre of over 85 volunteers that work almost every Friday of the year. Average attendance every Friday of the season was 16 participants that provided 2,235 hours of volunteer work on over 35 workdays dedicated to trail projects throughout the district. This year’s accomplishments include the installation of 56 cairns, 158 miles of trails maintained, 32 signs replaced, and 52 trees cleared.

    Volunteer Workday Crews Volunteer work events consist of local residents, members of local organizations including the Verde Valley Cycling Coalition (VVCC), Sedona Westerners, Sedona Chamber of Commerce, and the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. The District also receives sponsorships through local biking and hiking shops. This year we hosted over 15 public volunteer works events usually held on Thursday and Saturdays.  The average attendance at the volunteer events was at least 10-15 and totaled over 1200 volunteer hours. The sponsors usually provide lunch after the workday concludes.

    2021-2022 Trail Crew:  Front Row: Kyle Robb, Scott Leonard, Nick Kowall, Kevin Kuhl.  Middle Row: Ren Bernas, Mary Inovejas, Ben Raiche, Mary Kelley.  Back Row: Matt Barnes, Kelly Anderson, Leslie Geiss, Brett Newcomer, Kenny Quillan.


  • 1 Oct 2022 1:49 PM | Camille Cox (Administrator)

    By: Linda Pallas

    Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund is kicking off our 2022 Year-End Fund Drive with various appeals to the community. It is important that anyone who loves the Red Rock Trails and wants to donate is made aware of our efforts.

    Our community thrives in many ways because of our trails that drive our economy and enhance our lives. However, our trails are fragile, requiring frequent and ongoing maintenance.  The Forest Service cannot do it alone, so SRRTF, seeks contributions through grants and private donors to provide 65-70% of annual trail maintenance funding needs.

    This year, the first $12,000 donated October through December is boosted by a 1:1 MATCH being pledged by four individuals in our community who love the Red Rock Trails and who have combined their resources to provide this generous incentive to all.

    Trail maintenance is hard work and very costly, so every dollar counts. And everyone’s donation is important. We have seen in so many ways our community and personal health depend on the health of our trail system. Donations go directly to hire crews and to support volunteers who maintain the trails for our future use.

    Current Projects for Trail Field Work

    Cathedral Rock Trail-Phase 4This project will restore the last section of Cathedral Rock Trail, from Switchback Staircase to End of Trail that is suffering from damage via washouts and erosion. The Cathedral Rock Trail has always presented a challenge to Forest Service trail managers due to its steep terrain, frequent “washouts”, and rock construction requirements. So, Forest Service began a comprehensive reconstruction project last year, completing 3 phases of work: Phase 1 – Fall 2021 Lower Section (Back-O-Beyond Trailhead to Templeton Trail), Phase 2 – Winter 2022 Middle Section (Templeton to Slick Rock Climb), Phase 3 – Spring 2022 Begin the Upper Section (Slick Rock to Switchback Staircase).

    Phase 4 – Winter 2022-2023 Switchback Staircase to End of Trail is scheduled soon. Forest Service has asked SRRTF to partner on the project to complete the technically challenging rock armoring and masonry sections of the work.  Donations to Cathedral Rock Trail-Phase 4 will help repair and reconstruct the trail to be more sustainable.

    Comprehensive Trail Assessment In recent years, Red Rock Country has seen more dramatic weather conditions. Drought has created extreme dry conditions making soils more vulnerable to substantial damage caused by heavy monsoon rains and devastating flash floods.

    To address the damage and create a sustainable program of trail maintenance, the Forest Service and the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund are currently conducting a comprehensive field assessment. The data from the assessment will be used to develop recommendations for future maintenance for the approximately 200 miles of high impact trails in Red Rock Trail System.

    SRRTF has already received substantial funding for this project from generous individuals in Sedona and VOC. We are seeking donations to fund the remaining costs.

    Donations to Comprehensive Trail Assessment will contribute to a comprehensive trail assessment and maintenance plan.

    Red Rock Trail Census Project: Who is using the trails? How, when and how many? This unique and strategic project will count users and collect information about current trail usage in the District. Recognizing that trail usage has changed over time, RRRD seeks to identify current variations through specific data collection and understand the impact of current trends so to better address and serve the needs created by these changes.

    The project will provide Forest Service managers and partners with improved data about trails that can be used in future budgeting, staffing, grant seeking, enhanced public service, and more targeted maintenance. Information from this project will contribute to the development of an improved Trail Maintenance Plan for the Red Rock Ranger District.

    Donations to Red Rock Trail Census Project will help Forest Managers understand current trends to provide enhanced public service and more targeted maintenance.

    Archaeology Survey for RRRD The Forest Service seeks to improve the non-motorized trail system within the District. Prior to making certain improvements in specified areas, archaeological surveys must be conducted in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). This project responds to increasing demand for sustainable non-motorized trail recreation on National Forest within the District.

    To assist the RRRD, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund will be stepping in to help cover costs for NEPA surveys in the following areas:

    Doe Mesa, Hardline, Rector Bypass Trail, Scheurman Mountain, Single-Track Bypass, Turkey Creek. To see maps of each of these areas, visit our website at RedRockTRailFund.org. Scroll “Current Projects” and click “Archaeological Survey for RRRD.” On that page you can click on maps for each of the trail areas listed above.

    The great majority of donations keeping trails local healthy are from individuals who care about the trails they use.

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