The Sedona City Council voted in favor of restricting access in the October 26th, 2021 public meeting. Agenda item 8B found between pages 67 and 140 of this report describes the measures in which the council voted in favor. The meeting sought to answer several questions directed to the Forest Service by the City of Sedona on limiting access to the surrounding National Forest.
The Sedona City Council is asking the Coconino National Forest to implement a limited use permit system for motorized trails in the greater Sedona area similar to the Soldiers Pass Trail. The council meeting included discussions on whether or not the city can require quieter mufflers, impose nighttime restrictions on OHV use, force moratoriums on OHV businesses, limit OHV businesses by zoning, or licensing. Officials also discussed conducting an Environmental Impact statement to lay the basis for regulatory action through the Coconino National Forest.
Forest Service officials were there to answer questions relating to the possible actions the city can take to limit OHV use in the National Forest and implement permit systems. Coconino National Forest Ranger Amy Jo Tinderholt defended the publics right to motorized access, asserting that the Broken Arrow trail is considered a high-use area with significant recreation value, and the Forest Service has no intention of limiting access to the Broken Arrow trail.
Tinderholt repeatedly cited the Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew OHV Report, which shows that 75% of users clocked by a local police officer were within 5 miles per hour of the speed limit. Furthermore, she pointed out the deficient documented use of Broken Arrow Trail by UTVs and noted that there isn’t enough evidence to show that restrictions are needed. She attributed to a video that the council played during the council meeting referring to evidence of abusive OHV use and stated, “although there were a lot of them, they were good users. They were going slow, they were polite and waving.“
Sedona city officials were not happy with the official position of the Forest Service. One city council member issued a motion to out-fund the 1% of sales pledged by 4×4 businesses through the Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew in fear that the Forest Service would cater to 4×4 groups over the city.
Several Sedona Residents spoke at the meeting describing the impacts of OHV use. Many folks raised concerns about the loud noise, dust, and dead trees. They argue that UTV users pose a risk to the surrounding community and environment and are highly motivated to restrict access. One resident again raised concerns over dead trees, claiming that dust from OHVs is covering the trees and blocking them from photosynthesizing.
No Action Taken! | Pending Environmental Impact Statement
The meeting lasted just over 3 hours, and the discussion on OHV use became the focus. The meeting was purely informal, and the city will take no action to implement permit systems until the city can show the Coconino National Forest that action is necessary. The city will be conducting an Environmental Impact Statement to study the impact of OHV use in and around Sedona.
This process will give the public a chance to comment and attend meetings to help shape the future of 4×4 use on public lands around Sedona. During the public participation process, it’s essential to provide detailed solutions to help the Forest Service accomplish its goal.
We firmly believe that private landowners have the right to privacy and security on their property, and motorized users should respect the rights of private landowners. At the same time, we stand firm for the publics right to freely travel National Forest roads without acquiring a permit. We believe that the US Forest Service should reduce the number of guided tours on 4×4 trails around Sedona to accommodate increased demand from the public.
We stand with the respectful motorized users and don’t believe the public should lose access to the acts of a few.