December 4, 2016
To whom it may concern,
I want to add my voice to those who support the designation of the extraordinary landscape
surrounding Sedona, Arizona, as a Federally Designated National Monument or Scenic Area.
I believe that special designation would elevate this area for priority funding at the local, State,
and Federal level. A special designation gives more impetus for grant funds, for partnerships
and for annual appropriations.
A special designation would encourage residents and visitors to treat this landscape with more
respect, resulting in reduced trash, vandalism and other impacts.
I agree that a special designation would attract more tourists. However, this area has already
reached a “social capacity” tipping point with over 3 million visitors and more than 1.7 million
trail uses annually. The challenge now is to manage tourism and its impacts. I believe a special
designation would attract the resources and collaboration needed to care for this place.
I retired this year from a US Forest Service career in recreation management, recently spending
nearly 15 years at the Red Rock Ranger District, responsible for recreation management on
lands around Sedona, proposed for monument designation. In addition, I was project manager
in the late 1990’s for the creation of Amendment 12 to the Coconino National Forest Plan,
which modernized management of “redrock” country, opened the door for the Red Rock Pass
fee program, and initiated many productive public land partnerships to address the growing
tourism of the area.
Ecotourism use drives the economy of the Verde Valley region and brings many benefits to the
region, to residents and to the state of Arizona. Ecotourism does not, however, have a
“feedback” funding mechanism to pay sufficiently for the sanitary facilities, archaeological site
protection and law enforcement needs and to meet the expectations of residents and visitors
for trails, roads and interpretive experiences. Funds pour into the economy from tourists, but
do not “make it” back to pay for essential services and protections of these federal lands.
Federal funding, through Congressional appropriations, also falls short.
The Red Rock Pass fee program pays for essential services at 18 locations; and strong
private/public partnerships have developed in this area, to help bridge some of the federal
funding gap. But substantially more is needed to care for this extraordinary landscape. I believe
that a Special Designation would catalyze a new generation of careful stewardship of “redrock
country”, a landscape that most Americans want to see protected and enjoyed.
Jennifer M. Burns
Sedona resident and Red Rock Ranger District Recreation Staff Officer (retired)