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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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