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Latest Info On Red Rock Passes 

Citation May Slash Forest Amenities

Sedona, AZ (November 12, 2010) - by Stephen DeVol


On November 10, 2010 the Sedona City Council held a public meeting to discuss the Red Rock Pass Program. District Forest Ranger Heather Provencio spoke about the impact of the recent court decision which set aside a violation issued to James T. Smith. At that meeting the council voted to rescind the position taken by the council in 2002 which went on record as opposing the Fee Demonstration Program.

Mr. Smith was camping overnight in the Vultee Arch area when he returned to his vehicle and found the violation. Mr. Smith took the citation to Federal Court where it was heard by Judge Aspey. The Court tossed the citation because it did not meet the six amenities requirement for charging user fees on public lands:

  • Picnic tables
  • Law enforcement
  • Toilets
  • Area Information
  • Parking lot
  • Trash receptacle

The ruling has caused the Coconino National Forest staff to revisit how the application of the Red Rock Pass has been applied and how it will be applied in the future. Over the next few months the public is invited to comment in order to garner input on the pass. While the ruling does not affect the entire Red Rock Pass Program, it will mean some changes need to be considered. If fees are reduced or eliminated there could be tradeoffs in terms of reduced services. Approximately $800,000 annually is collected from the Red Rock Pass program of which 95 percent is kept locally to provide for high quality recreation, natural resource protection and valuable visitor services.

In 1996 Congress authorized the Fee Demonstration Program that gave the United State Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) authority to levy fees for recreating on publicly owned Lands. The Act was widely opposed and  on October 22, 2002 the Sedona City Council went on record as being opposed to the program.

Not all enforcement will cease however some areas will be non-enforcement areas. The following areas will not be subject to enforcement:

  • Jacks Canyon Road.
  • Forest Road 152, also known as Dry Creek Road and including the Vultee Arch Trailhead.
  • Upper and Lower Red Rock Loop Roads.
  • The unpaved portion of Boynton Pass Road west of Doe Trailhead.
  • The unpaved portion of Schnebly Hill Road, north of Huckaby Trailhead.

The following areas will see citations being issued:

  • Palatki, Honanki, and V Bar V Cultural Sites.
  • Oak Creek Canyon.
  • Sites along Highway 179 between the Village of Oak Creek and the Town of Sedona.
  • Long Canyon, Boynton Canyon, Doe, Bear, and Aerie Trailheads along the paved Boynton
  • Pass Road.
  • Huckaby, Soldiers Pass, Jordan, Thunder Mountain, Broken Arrow, Cathedral, and Airport Mesa
  • Trailheads near the Town of Sedona.

The Coconino National Forest will be taking public comments over the next couple of months and formal public meetings are slated to take place in March, 2011. Visit Coconino National Forest for more information or submit your comments by mail to the Red Rock Ranger District at P.O. Box 20429, Sedona, AZ 86341.

You can also visit Red Rock Country for more info on passes.