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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Something funny is going on in Sedona.

Another trail, one which I and my neighbors very much enjoyed running and riding on several times a week for years, was partially destroyed this week. Presumably, judging by the scale of the project, the perpetrators were a US Forest Service trail crew or some other such organized group. I have one question for those responsible: Why? What is the reason, the justification for such brutal, undeniably aggressive action toward the very public who loves these trails, who has woven them into the very fabric of their daily lives? A public, might I add, who pays a lot of money to live in and / or visit Sedona precisely because of these trails! Accountability and justification is what I'm after here. Something very precious was stolen from me this week and I want to know why they did it, and why they believe they can get away with such a travesty so nonchalantly!

The partially destroyed trail, known as Windsurfer, is not some new, insignificant "social" trail, but rather a very well established and stable route, providing critical and beautiful access between two major trail networks very important to Sedona residents (more so than to visitors). This is one of my favorite trails upon which to enjoy early spring wildflowers, as it's soil and exposure are well suited to a great number of species. So well established is this trail in fact that it's even appeared in guide books for many years! And as for the question of sustainability, well, there is no question: This fabulous trail was laid out in such a perfect way that the forces of both erosion and human / animal usage have changed the trail almost imperceptibly over the many years that I've seen it regualrly, unlike the conditions we've all witnessed on many of the overused "tourist trails" that the Forest Service seems to want to force ALL of us onto. So this trail is not guilty of being either new or unstable. Must have been another reason.

The massive destruction to this beautiful, stable, fully warranted and long beloved trail could NOT have been justified by such an idea as the lessening "environmental impact", for the tremendous impact of its recent destruction, the impact of grossly displacing such a massive volume of rock, boulders, soil and plant life, has impacted the physical (and experiential) environment much more so than if there were a thousand hikers / runners / bikers enjoying this trail per year! Indeed, the crew responsible for this barbarous ransacking disturbed, dislodged and displaced literally tons of material in their efforts to take this trail from us. The entirety of this now loose material was a perfectly stable matrix of rock and soil knitted together at the perfect angle of repose by the roots of tenacious but fragile desert plants - also grossly disturbed. What's worse, from the perspective of environmental impact, is the fact that in addition to the immediate visible damage, this irresponsible trail destruction has left in it's reckless wake the potential for an erosional nightmare: the once stable, compacted hillside traverse is now a water catching, crater-pocked culvert of soft soil in places - the void where rocks and boulders had lain stably imbedded for eons is now a slide zone. The perpetrators removed a stable, sustainable, solidly established trail running across a balanced hillside, with a "trench" of disturbed soil ready to trap all water that flows down the fall line, where it will saturate, weight the slope, and slide with the first heavy rain. Such a scar will be there for a century. For what? To keep me from running on the trail? To keep my family from enjoying our weekly walk up there? Additionally, as if this is not asinine enough, the literally tons of rocks and boulders removed, rounded rocks and boulders mind you, were "pulled up" by the trail wreckers to the high side of the new precipice of disturbed soil and stacked in places idiotically atop a narrow spit of unsupported loose dirt - that'll lessen impact! Lets see, what was for years a perfectly solid, stable, time proven, and beloved trail - OUR trail - is now a several hundred yard rock pile primed to provide guaranteed monsoonal erosion. This was done to lessen impact??? This is an engineers nightmare, and a complete embarrassment to the people who are responsible for it! So why would an agency interested in ameliorating "environmental impact" inflict such awful and careless immidiate and potential impact on that very same environment??? Well, it seems that preventing environmental impact is NOT the reason for this action either

Let's look a little deeper, shall we: Word around town is that certain Forest Service officers have admitted, in very recent meetings with concerned parties, that they are destroying our beautiful, beloved trails in order to make the point that they are in control of our lands. To make a point!?! Excuse me, but this is NOT okay with me, my neighbors, my fellow trail users, business owners, tax payers, Red Rock pass purchasers, ANYONE I've spoken with about this!

But come now, why would the Sedona Ranger District do this? Apparently, from sources who work with them, individuals within the Sedona Ranger District feel thwarted - frustrated for example with the jeep tour companies who have been disregarding FS permitting protocols for the past several years, and are seeking a show of muscle. This belief certainly is evidenced in and supported by recent Forest Service posturing in the community newspaper!

It's also becoming clear that the non-commercial user group most heavily targeted by the Sedona Ranger District is the Mountain Biking community. Well listen to this: I am a long time local trail runner and avid hiker, who's family has been here since the 1880's, and I don't like MY trails, the trails around MY house, the ones I've been using DAILY for more than a decade and my family has been enjoying for over a century, to be taken away from MY community without even a discussion! And the fact that they are replaced with ugly, dangerous, asinine swaths of scarring destruction makes it even worse! I'd wager freely that over the years I've consistently spent one hell of a lot more time on these trails around my house than has Mr. Anderson or any one of the Sedona Ranger District trail crew responsible for their seemingly eminent destruction. I do NOT support this ridiculous behavior, and will express this pathetic raping of our lands and robbing of our established trails to the regional US Forest Service headquarters in Albuquerque, and Washington DC. Representatives from the New Mexico office were out here recently and expressed that they could neither believe nor understand why agents in this branch of their agency would ever destroy a trail as beautiful, as useful, and as masterfully built as the one they boasted about destroying in the paper. Oh, and by the way, if you had not experienced THAT trail before its savage destruction, I am sorry for you, as it truly was one of the most beautiful, Zen-like trails to walk / ride in Sedona - a true masterpiece. Go view the carnage now, you'll be disgusted to see what the Forest Service did in order to make a point! Cutting off the leg to save the toenail!

In recent meetings with self appointed (not community appointed) representatives of the local mountain biking community, the Forest Service has made the following offer: "promise not build any new trails, and we'll leave the existing trails alone". The trail that is being destroyed this week is an existing, long established MULTI USE trail enjoyed by many locals for years! There goes any trust in Forest Service "deals", eh!

But do not despair, trail lovers, for all is not lost... yet. You can make a difference. Demand that the Ken Anderson and the Sedona Ranger District STOP destruction of our existing trails immediately! Write to the USFS HQ in New Mexico and express concern that this district my be mismanaged - their ears are open to this issue! Even a senior GAO official openly expressed distaste for this practice, questioned its constitutionality, and doubted the process was actually in the best interest of we, the people! So take a minute to SAVE YOUR TRAILS!
 

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Sublime Absurdity
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Dude, I am so on your side here, so don't take this the wrong way. To use this example as a weapon in the fight, you must find out the real reason that it was perpetrated. I don't know much about Sedona trail politics, but the potential answers you provide in your eloquent essay sound like guesses. Calling the FS and asking "why was this barbarism perpetrated" is not likely to get you closer to the truth. You probably already know that, but I want to make sure. Calling up the USFS HQ to complain will only be helpful if you know the stated reason for the trail being destroyed. Maybe they were protecting the rare tufty hooded ditch mouse or something. More likely, they are building a road to a new development - are you sure that the land is FS land?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
sodade said:
Dude, I am so on your side here, so don't take this the wrong way.
I'm happy for your support - thank you for saying so. Likewise, please do not take my response the wrong way.

sodade said:
To use this example as a weapon in the fight, you must find out the real reason that it was perpetrated.
That's what this is, an exploration of their possible justifications. Realize that this was written only minutes after returning from the trail Friday night. Also, keep in mind that they HAVE already addmitted that the last destruction was done largely to make a point.

sodade said:
I don't know much about Sedona trail politics
It's quite "thick" and fairly complex. This is one of the most profitable ranger districts in the US as a result of the multi multi million dollar jeep tour industry. It's one of the most heavily used districts as Sedona has consistently closely matched the visitation of the Grand Canyon for nearly a decade - 4+ million per year. Demographics have changed since the Forest Service outlawed camping in the region and began charging the public to hike, bike, use the land, so the majority of those visitors are now more interested in art galleries, spas and golf courses than actually using the trails. These are key factors, but not the whole story.

sodade said:
...but the potential answers you provide in your eloquent essay sound like guesses.
Ah, it's a literary style - it's supposed to sound that way :rolleyes: :D

sodade said:
Calling the FS and asking "why was this barbarism perpetrated" is not likely to get you closer to the truth. You probably already know that, but I want to make sure.
Amen!

sodade said:
Calling up the USFS HQ to complain will only be helpful if you know the stated reason for the trail being destroyed.
The point of contacting higher ups is to alert them to questionable activities and to the public's disapproval of them! I want the Supers to ask the district rangers WHY? Is this justified? Have you researched the impact this will have on the public, and is it worth taking it from them? I want the local District rangers under greater scrutiny, held to a much higher level of accountability.

sodade said:
Maybe they were protecting the rare tufty hooded ditch mouse or something. More likely, they are building a road to a new development - are you sure that the land is FS land?
No road, no development, no way. The only damage done was TO THE TRAIL itself - a 12"-14" singletrack. If you knew where it was you'd understand. It runs across the side of mesa - which has a busy airport on it! The is an "accepted" trail running the perimeter of the airport, and a very nice network of "accepted" trails at its western base. The partially destroyed trail was the natural connector between the two.

Again, thanks for writing. I am not dissing you here in any way, just addressing your questions.
 

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I wouldn't be surprised....

if the trail was not ever supposed to be or allowed to be there in the first place. I would also not be surprised if the efforts were made in an attempt to show certain members of the bike community that their rogue efforts and anti-social avenues of individualism aren't above the law. I don't want to mention the names of people or the shop that many of them are associated with that have a bad reputation with legal authority in the Sedona local. Certain influencial leaders of the Sedona bike community have made public statements claiming, basically, that they have the right to do what they wish with public land even if it is deemed wilderness. Some of these same people have built many illegal trails in the Sedona area. There are quite a few rumors going around that involve trails being cut in inappropriate areas and I've personally heard of DH trails that have been plowed into the ground along fault lines and other trails that involve wooden stunts or the modification of puposely downed trees. I don't know of the rumors truths but I do know it sounds pretty damn fun to me and I sure would like to find them and ride them......at least once....without anyone else knowing.
While Sedona appreciates the money that the tourism industry brings they don't appreciate a widely accepted part of the modern bike industry that many of us enjoy....the freeride movement. They want the wealthy or at least middle class mature conservative family to enjoy what they have to offer rather than the young come and tear up the place then leave it trashed youth that do little do support the local economy.
While I enjoy the sport and I usually only ride on sanctioned trails I am also not always a saint. I'm not preaching by and means, more so I'm just trying to offer an alternate view of the issue.
I've only ridden the trail "windsurfer" twice so I can't say I'm an expert on it's placement I can easily view the trail as one that was evolved without authority.
 

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Since you also posted in So Cal forum but haven't got back here are my posts:

(1) Do you have pictures? Before and after?

(2) Well was it some other organized group or the USFS? It wouldn't be a first for some private group to destroy a trail or a connector.

There are always homeowners ready to destroy a trail or trailhead in order to keep their privacy. Certainly Kenter is one example. Right here in Thousand Oaks the homeowners adjacent to Sycamore-Satwiwa got the city to institute restricted parking (tagged local resident only). Can't blame them too much, when I parked there another MTB'er was playing "music" at 150db while loading/unloading.

BTW some friends are going to Sedona this week.
 

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and what are some of the other trails (as per the title) that the USFS has destroyed in sedona? Just curious.
 

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I think you answered your own question...

Rollin'in'Zona said:
It runs across the side of mesa - which has a busy airport on it! The is an "accepted" trail running the perimeter of the airport, and a very nice network of "accepted" trails at its western base. The partially destroyed trail was the natural connector between the two.
It certainly appears you spent quite a lot of time and energy ranting here with no actual useful information but look at your previous response above.

Just because it's an "accepted" trail doesn't mean it's a LEGITIMATE trail. The USFS tells you not to shortcut switchbacks when you're on hiking/backpacking trails because it causes erosion but it sure is easy to make those shortcuts "natural connectors" to. Get my point? Just because it inconveniences YOU doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do. The USFS blocks shortcuts on hiking trails all over the country for good reason.

Maybe you could actually ASK someone at the local Coconino FS office why they did it instead instead of throwing them all under the bus with no information.
 

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more thoughts

rollin'

I posted a few thoughts and questions on this topic over in the "Save the trails" phenomena. Here are a few more random but related to this topic thoughts. Think about 'em in lthe light of your comments above about visitor numbers and demographics of Sedona.

I'm 49. I first visited Sedona on my own 30 years ago. At the time it was a pretty, sleepy little community, with a small tourism industry, and a notable population of retired folks. Over the past 3 decades, both those elements of the community have grown, but the landscape isn't any bigger. More people mean more impacts, and what was once acceptable may not be sustainable over longer periods with greater numbers of people.

As you noted, trail politics in Sedona are no doubt convoluted. I first heard about trail problems there when I read a newspaper article about "New Agers" going out off trail and building "power circles" and other patterns, and the conflict this was creating with others who were there to hike or photograph and have a natural experience.

Keep in mind when you rant about "your" trails, that the Forest Service has to balance the sometimes conflicting demands of all current user groups, as well as manage for the future.
 
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