Roughly 100 people shrugged off cold weather near Sedona, Ariz., to attend a Dutch oven cooking contest and talk about the Coconino National Forest’s work to create a motorized and non-motorized trail system on the Red Rock Ranger District.
The Red Rock Ranger District contains a colorful collection of buttes, pinnacles, mesas and canyons surrounding Sedona and is known for its red rock vistas. The setting for many western novels and movies, the district contains the remains of ancient wetlands that are now crimson cliffs carved by the forces of the desert into one of nature’s most magnificent masterpieces.
The Montezuma Rimrock McGuireville Trails Coalition sponsored a National Trails Day event to help bring awareness and involvement in the creation of a motorized and non-motorized trail system around the community. Coconino land managers have identified a system of roads, areas, and trails across the entire forest to remain open to motorized use that will be socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable over time.
“This area really attracts an incredibly diverse crowd – from vacationers and site-seers, to off-highway enthusiasts and hikers – because it’s so beautiful and the weather is almost always sunny,” said Jody Nickerson, Off-Highway Vehicle Program coordinator for the Coconino National Forest. “We want everyone’s experience to be a positive one.”
By hosting the cooking contest, the Trails Coalition helped foster a conversation about the implementation of the Travel Management on the forest. The Travel Management Rule affects all motorize travel on National Forest land. The event marked the first attempt at public scoping, or the process of determining the scope of issues to be addressed on the travel management plan.
Members of the Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Ambassador Program also attended the event. These citizen volunteers work with their community and local, state and federal agencies on land issues. They also advocate safe riding practices and help the public know they can ride legally.
“Working with the public and local community is such a force-multiplier,” said Brady Smith of the Coconino. “They take the time to understand the challenges in front of managing public lands and become our advocates to other members of the public.”