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Sedona Jeep School
01-31-2006, 07:56 PM
This is another big step in the continuing drama of the Sedona commercial outfitter/guide world. The USFS has a proposed plan which they are presenting in an Open House next Thursday, Feb. 9. 4-7 PM at the Elks Lodge on Airport Road in Sedona.

In typical USFS style, the info is lengthy and difficult to find. Go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/nepa/index.shtml#06jan30
Scroll down below the grid--you are looking for the first listing "Outfitter-Guide Management Plan"--there are two pdf documents attached (very lengthy reading).

One item that may be of interest to the general public: gates on Broken Arrow & Soldier Pass which requires a (free) permit for the general public. See page 24 of the Proposed Action Outfitter Plan.

Any and all are encouraged to attend. This is NOT your typical land use meeting, but the public comment period is over March 2, so if you want to have a say, this Open House will answer some questions...:cool:

Anyone with questions is welcome to contact me.

RokNRich
01-31-2006, 09:19 PM
I don't like gates.

Let us know if there is anything else we can do...........

jeepsonly
01-31-2006, 09:21 PM
From Sandee's thread about FR42, seems like it's the wave of the future for USFS roads.

Sedona Jeep School
02-01-2006, 07:02 AM
Yes, except this plan alots 35 commercial Jeeps per day. But the public must go to the Ranger Station to get a swipe card for the day.

If you read the intro letter (about 4 pages--easy to read vernacular), it gives you a background of the whole situation. I have only skimmed the 28-page report, and, so far, page 24 is what caught my eye as far as recreation is concerned. I urge everyone to read it and send in your comments.

Markos
02-02-2006, 04:17 PM
I noticed that Broken arrow has a vehicle counter running across the start of the trail... I'll be sure to read up on this and post my comments.

Hmm, the page isn't loading...

Have they performed any impact studies on Broken Arrow? What is the point of the gate? Overall, the trail looks cleaner with less 'spurr trails' than any of the hiking trails I've been on in Sedona.

How is it that Sedona seems to get away with all of these special restrictions like the red rocks pass and the camping restrictions? It reminds me of Boulder, CO...

FYI, I don't mind paying $5 for the red rocks pass

Sedona Jeep School
02-05-2006, 08:46 AM
I noticed that Broken arrow has a vehicle counter running across the start of the trail... I'll be sure to read up on this and post my comments.

Hmm, the page isn't loading...

Have they performed any impact studies on Broken Arrow? What is the point of the gate? Overall, the trail looks cleaner with less 'spurr trails' than any of the hiking trails I've been on in Sedona.

How is it that Sedona seems to get away with all of these special restrictions like the red rocks pass and the camping restrictions? It reminds me of Boulder, CO...

FYI, I don't mind paying $5 for the red rocks pass
Yes, the NEPA is all about impact studies. Broken Arrow, in particular has received the most attention. Although the ranger has stated that Jeeps are not the ones doing the most damage "90% of the damage is done by bikers and hikers", the vehicle traffic has the neighborhood petitioning for limitations. The NEPA study shows that the road can handle 75 vehicles per day. Pink Jeep reports 33 vehicles per day, and this proposal intends to commit 65% of the acceptable usage to commercial outfitters (that is about 50 commercial Jeeps allowed per day, and 25 private/public vehicles).

How do they get away with it? Because the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The only people who show up to meetings around here are tour guides, hikers, homeowners associations, and I have seen ONE, count him, 1, individual who just Jeeps recreationally around here.

Markos
02-06-2006, 09:00 AM
Well I printed off the proposal. I read the briefing, and I'm about 8 pages into the 30 page document. I was most suprised with the casual writing style of the document.

So who sued the NFS in 2001, thereby creating an Outfitter 'free for all' as they claim?

I understand the issue, but as usual It seems like the offroad impact is severely overstated. If 90% of the issues are unrelated to offroading, why are they targeting the 4x4 tours? What other 'outfitters' are there in Sedona? Are there guided mtb tours? mtb rentals, horseback riding? I saw a snippet about air balloons, I can't imagine that they are a big problem.

My limited observations of Sedona...

I've seen about 30 rigs on Broken Arrow on a Saturday afternoon, at least 10 of which were pinkies. That was in a 2-3 hour trip. I find it extremely hard to believe that the trail can only handle 75 vehicles per day. My guess is that counter they have is picking up way more than 75 rigs on a busy day. I see no visible signs of erosion, runoff, etc. I'm sure that is partly due the the 'outfitter' upkeep of the trail. The challenging portions of the trail are all made of stone. I don't claim to be an ecology expert, but I struggle to see how rubber on stone affects the surrounding environment. That is of course with exception to noise and air pollution.

I really haven't seen (or heard) the place swarming with ATV's. In fact, the only ATV's that I've seen have been driving on the city streets of Sedona. What is the biggest 'outfitter' market in Sedona? I'm assuming its 4x4 tours...

Thanks for the info. I really enjoy Sedona. For me, the beauty of the surrounding red rocks override the annoying level of commercialism in the area. I don't mind the tour guides. I beleive it gives 'outsiders' a glimpse into the offroading community.

Now if the NSF can do something about all the cheesy 'art' galleries, that would be something.

My wife and I have a running joke about going to mountain towns to buy dream catchers and ceramic wolves...

I'll chime in when I'm done with the packet.

Sedona Jeep School
02-06-2006, 09:58 AM
Markos, Thank you for applying your time and attention to this--in answer to some of your questions:


...I was most suprised with the casual writing style of the document....So who sued the NFS in 2001, thereby creating an Outfitter 'free for all' as they claim?
Ken is on a first name basis with all of the outfitter-guides, so he is speaking directly to us in a way that one would probably never see for the general public. And, of course, this is the proposal, not the EIS. The tour company who filed (and won) the lawsuit was Sedona Photo Tours. And it did permit any commercial outfitter to use any road or trail, including Broken Arrow, for a while, until the USFS rewrote their rules to correct the oversight.


If 90% of the issues are unrelated to offroading, why are they targeting the 4x4 tours? What other 'outfitters' are there in Sedona? Are there guided mtb tours? mtb rentals, horseback riding? I saw a snippet about air balloons, I can't imagine that they are a big problem.
This proposal is strictly with regards to commercial outfitters, of which 90% is Jeep tours. What few hiking, mountain biking or horseback tours there are, are small potatoes. Hot air balloon crews use roads, and recover the balloons from wherever they land in the NF. The demand for any and all commercial permits in this area is extremely high and competitive.


I've seen about 30 rigs on Broken Arrow on a Saturday afternoon, at least 10 of which were pinkies. That was in a 2-3 hour trip. I find it extremely hard to believe that the trail can only handle 75 vehicles per day. My guess is that counter they have is picking up way more than 75 rigs on a busy day. I see no visible signs of erosion, runoff, etc. I'm sure that is partly due the the 'outfitter' upkeep of the trail.
Their current permit allows them 5 Jeeps per hour. When three other tour companies were running Jeeps up there as well, sometimes you felt like a gondola on a Disneyland ride--one Jeep after another, and the whole canyon buzzing with Jeep noise. There CAN be such a thing as too many Jeeps on a trail. Have you seen the grooves in the rock going to submarine? Or down the stairs? Not to mention the road bed is up to four feet deep in some areas. 5 Jeeps per hour, everyday, for years does make a difference. Pink works very hard to maintain the trail--they literally bring in tons of dirt to try to maintain the road bed. But that trail is USED. You should have see it 20 years ago, when it still felt like a trail, instead of an amusement park track.

An interesting note is the number for Soldier Pass. It is a shorter trail (1.5 miles, as opposed to 3.5 miles for BA), but they only rate it capable of 8 Jeeps per day. :confused:


I really haven't seen (or heard) the place swarming with ATV's. In fact, the only ATV's that I've seen have been driving on the city streets of Sedona. What is the biggest 'outfitter' market in Sedona? I'm assuming its 4x4 tours...
It is, by far, 4x4 tours. There is one ATV company who drives his people through town, but the other guy drives them out by van to the trail, and stages the ATV's from there. They are only permitted on the west side of town.

Markos
02-06-2006, 12:36 PM
Nena:

Thanks for the feedback. I'm looking forward to finishing the document...


Have you seen the grooves in the rock going to submarine? Or down the stairs? Not to mention the road bed is up to four feet deep in some areas.

I don't recall seeing the groves at submarine rock. They are very apparent at the staircase though. I was under the impression that the groves were 'cut' to make the trail easier (safer?). Please correct me if I am wrong. I have never seen grooves in the rock like that before. Most of the trails in Moab have indents, but not 6-8" tire groves. Is the stone in Sedona that much softer? I was under the assumption that the stone is similar to that of Moab.

If the grooves are in fact, the effects of vehicle travel, that puts things into perspective...

Sedona Jeep School
02-06-2006, 01:48 PM
...If the grooves are in fact, the effects of vehicle travel, that puts things into perspective...
I know of no other red rock trail that takes the amount of traffic that Broken Arrow does. Even Poison Spider in Moab doesn't get used all day every day. And, actually, our sandstone is older and harder than the stuff in Moab.

Submarine Rock:
http://www.virtualjeepclub.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=4075&stc=1&d=1139262278

1BLKJP
02-06-2006, 01:57 PM
Nena:

Thanks for the feedback. I'm looking forward to finishing the document...



I don't recall seeing the groves at submarine rock. They are very apparent at the staircase though. I was under the impression that the groves were 'cut' to make the trail easier (safer?). Please correct me if I am wrong. I have never seen grooves in the rock like that before. Most of the trails in Moab have indents, but not 6-8" tire groves. Is the stone in Sedona that much softer? I was under the assumption that the stone is similar to that of Moab.

If the grooves are in fact, the effects of vehicle travel, that puts things into perspective...

I noticed that the last time someone posted pictures of a run up there. I think those tracks are getting considerably worse a lot faster than they used to be.

Nena, what is patrolling these numbers going to look like? It is up to Pink Jeeps and others to control their own "per day" numbers? And what about the 25 or so private allocation?

pitch
02-08-2006, 07:03 PM
Nena, I'd like to attend some of these meetings if I can. Do you have a link to the upcoming schedule? Can't make the 9th, but I'll see what I can do for the future.

-Eric

Sedona Jeep School
02-09-2006, 05:46 AM
Eric,

Tonight is the only Open House in this round. But they are accepting public comments until March 2. If you can't make it tonight, then your written comments are vitally important at this stage.

They will take our comments this month and draft their entire management plan for the next decade. So, in a few months, they will issue a proposed EIS, for which there should be at the very least, a written comment period again.

The final EIS is due out this time next year, so these two comment periods are our last chance for serious input for maybe the next 10 years.

So, if you have an interest in whether or not gates go up on Broken Arrow and Soldier Pass that limit public traffic, and what ratio of the traffic is allowed to be commercial versus private, then you only have two chances this decade, and the most important one is now.

I guess y'all know what I've been working on this week...:cool:

Sedona Jeep School
02-09-2006, 05:53 AM
Nena, what is patrolling these numbers going to look like? It is up to Pink Jeeps and others to control their own "per day" numbers? And what about the 25 or so private allocation?
Some of you may have noticed traffic counters up on BA, SP, and some others. Those were to count total traffic, as they cannot tell the color of the Jeep by its weight. :cool:

Outfitters must keep records of their trail use and pay accordingly. The USFS uses a "spot check" method to verify accuracy--a ranger out on the trail will log the vehicle, number of passengers, Jeep#, time of day, etc. and at the end of the year, if each of these spot checks doesn't show up in the company log, then there is a "problem".

A swipe card gate would require private vehicles to go to the ranger station and fill out papers for a free card good for X quantity of time. I assert that we should input our opinions on that, as well.

I noticed that Broken Arrow is rated for 75 vehicles per day, while Soldier Pass only 8. Did you also notice that they propose to issue 10 permits per day to Red Rock Jeep Tours? Curious...One thing this indicates to me is that they would like to close SP to vehicle traffic soon.

Sedona Jeep School
02-09-2006, 06:09 AM
I just want to clarify that these USFS issues are completely separate from what is going on with the BLM Agua Fria/Bradshaw meetings this week. Public input is vital to all of these current management plans. I know it is a lot of boring reading and writing all at once, but this is a critical time, so thank you to all who are participating here.

I realize that not everybody has the time to deal with all of this. My opinion with regard to our group here: This USFS topic is going to affect the public on a few trails in the Sedona area. The BLM's proposal is going to affect public use on thousands of miles of trails north of the valley. Adjust your time and attention accordingly.

Again, I thank you all so much for getting involved. Anything I can do to help, please do not hesitate to ask.

Happy trails,

Markos
02-09-2006, 09:19 AM
I'll be sure to send in my comments. I've been moving all this week, so my evenings have been spent unpacking rather than reading the FS stuff...

Sedona Jeep School
02-09-2006, 11:22 AM
Wow, I don't know which is more exciting--unpacking or reading FS stuff. :rolleyes: You really know how to party! :D What do you really do for fun? :eek:

Sedona Jeep School
02-11-2006, 06:07 AM
Thursday night's meeting was a packed house. I saw the same one guy who Jeeps recreationally, but I saw one white TJ in the parking lot that I didn't recognize. ? Of course, it was almost all commercial outfitters, and they held a question & answer session where questions submitted by note card were addressed.

The main issues that were addressed:

Q: With the concerns of the homeowners around Broken Arrow, the question was put "Why don't we create an access road from the Schnebly Hill side that completely by passes the neighborhood?"
A: The problem is that area is designated wilderness, and it will, literally, take an act of congress to change it back to where we could permit mechanized or motorized travel through there.

Q: "With Amendment 12 (Sedona's guiding management document) clearly demanding preference to private use, how does the USFS justify designating 65% - 130% of acceptable use to commercial outfitters on Broken Arrow and Soldier Pass, respectively?"
A: Amendment 12 does not specifically designate a percentage, so it is subjective and arbitrary, according to the ranger in charge.

Other topics of discussion included:

...the proposal to make outfitters pay for ALL of their designated permits, not just the portion they use. That way, no outfitter is likely to "sit" on unused permits, just to keep them from being redistributed to someone else. Also, a portion of unused permits WILL be redistributed.

...why Broken Arrow is determined to be able to handle 75 vehicles per day, but Soldier Pass only 8 is due to its confining trail configuration and its proximity to wilderness...

Anyway, I am still digesting the info. Ken asked for any and all of us to submit "exhaustive and detailed" comments, suggestions, etc. BY MARCH 2!

USDA Forest Service
Red Rock Ranger District
P.O. Box 300
Sedona AZ 86339

More soon...