REPOSTED from TRAILSOFFROAD.COM
Soldiers Pass(an iconic Sedona trail) is currently being threatened by closure due to local complaints and commercial tour companies. This is a fantastic short trail with awesome scenic points, it would be quite tragic if we lost public use to this land.
Anyways, I won't go into too much detail, but I wanted to inform you all that there is currently a petition against it on Change.org. If you'd like to take a few minutes to help out and sign the petition, it would be greatly appreciated!
Here's the link: www.change.org/p/unite...pen-to-all
More info from 12 News: www.12news.com/news/lo.../334096894
In addition, here is a section from a local newspaper with a little more information on what is happening:
"The USFS provided four options to choose from and despite a split vote on Jan. 12, this time around — thanks to additional input and information — the Sedona City Council was unanimous in its recommendation of option B. The vote, taken on Tuesday, April 12, authorizes Mayor Sandy Moriarty to send a letter to the USFS in support of this option during the public input portion of the NEPA study, which concludes at the end of this month.
According to a USFS report, alternative B was developed to respond to comments that noise disturbance and social conflicts were resulting from the high volume of unguided motorized vehicles. It would restrict motorized use to one permit holder, currently Red Rock Western Jeep Tours, and prohibit all other motorized use.
Red Rock Western Jeep Tour’s authorized use allocation would be adjusted from 10 vehicles at one time and an annual maximum of 2,100 vehicles to two vehicles at one time, up to 12 vehicles per day and 4,380 vehicles per year. This would make their “at one time” and daily use consistent with most other motorized outfitter/guide use on the district.
This alternative would require the installation of a gate just beyond the trailhead parking lot. This gate would remain closed and locked. Only RRWJT, the Forest Service and emergency responders would have access. Gate placement would not increase parking capacity.
The travel management designation for the Soldier Pass Road and associated spurs would change from open to motorized vehicle use to non-designated, meaning closed to all motor vehicle use except permitted use or administrative use.
The USFS has recommended option C, which states that Red Rock Western Jeep Tours would continue to operate guided Jeep tours on Soldier Pass Road. Other motorized use would be managed with a free permit system. Twelve permits per day would be issued, making public access available in the same amount as that for the permitted outfitter/guide. Permits would be issued on a first come, first served basis and would be available to individuals only and not to businesses seeking to obtain them for clients. Permits would be issued by day, for access anytime between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This alternative would require the development of a permit reservation system and the installation of a gate to control access. Gate placement would not increase parking capacity.
The other two USFS options were to do nothing and leave things as they are or deny access to any motorized vehicles on the trail.
Councilman Jon Thompson was one of three council members who voted in favor of alternative C back in January. But after receiving the USFS’ study, felt that option B is best.
“I think it comes down to one of those issues that’s really a tourist vs. community kind of issue,” he said. “I’m very much in favor of finding the right balance for our community because I feel we owe a lot to what we get from our tourists and we have to have a strong tourism base. But, tourists owe a lot to the community. We have to have a good community for the tourists to want to come to. I think a balance is very important.”
There were no representatives at the meeting from the USFS or OHV rental operators. However, John Bradshaw, of Red Rock Western Jeep Tours, said the company is offering to install a second gate at the trailhead. This would be a solar-powered coded entry gate with cameras."