Why it is vital to support the National Scenic Area

As Presented before the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council June 11,2009

President O' Brien, Council members, Village/Big Park community residents, thank you for the privilege of being here today. On behalf of the more than 600 members of Keep Sedona Beautiful, we appreciate the opportunity to help clarify the issues surrounding a Sedona-Red Rock National Scenic Area designation.

I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth. I have lived in this wonderful place for the past 22 years, surrounded by scenery that takes my breath away, and night skies that are filled with diamonds.

I hike into wilderness that seems I'm the first to ever set foot there. And I believe I share this room with like-minded people who appreciate the wonder as well. It's truly a privilege to be here.

I was asked to speak with you today about the reasons FOR designating the Sedona area forests as a National Scenic Area.

I realize that today's program is pro-con, but, quite frankly, I can't imagine why anyone would oppose it. We've heard opponent's arguments for more than a decade.

So today, once again, we provide THE FACTS about the scenic area designation: I'm going to refer the scenic designation as NSA in this presentation. The NSA does not affect any private, state or municipal lands in the designated area. NSA allows the U.S. Forest Service to continue to manage this area in accordance with its current management plan. There are no new layers of government.

NSA is good business, as it would make Big Park and other Sedona communities more attractive to visitors upon whom so much of our local economy depends.

NSA maintains U.S. Forest Service management authority over these lands; local control would not be affected. We applaud and respect the forest service, Heather Provencio and her team's dedication and ability to manage these lands as they have for the past 11 years under Amendment 12. And remember, Amendment 12 is a management tool.

NSA protects the right of local municipalities, towns and counties to negotiate, as they do now, for public infrastructure and land use, like schools, roads, fire stations and even cell phone towers which are placed according to the FCC needs. The heart and only purpose of the NSA legislation is to prohibit land trades... unlike the current temporary protections afforded by Amendment 12.

And Amendment 12 was born right here after the Jack's Canyon land trade...and in Amendment 12 it says the next step is to seek special designation....Ken Anderson said so right here. This, my friends, is the real story behind the few who are fighting the NSA.

Pure and simple, it's about MONEY. It's about speculators who want to protect what they feel is a right to make a quick buck from commercial land trades in the pristine national forest. It's about self-interest, not community interest. 

I think you would agree that we live and work here to PROTECT our forests and the natural beauty in which we bask every day.

When each of us first stepped foot in Sedona, we became stewards of a community in the middle of a national forest. It's not only our privilege - it's our obligation to protect this area. Why would we allow destruction of that which we came for?

If NSA opponents' past behavior is any indication, I suggest as Bette Davis once said: "fasten your seatbelts It's gonna be a bumpy night."

You're gunna be asked to embrace FEAR. And I quote these people's exact words:  Fear...of more layers of government. (False!)  Fear...of jurisdictional fights. (False!)  Fear...of unknown and unintended consequences. Remember, taking no action has its own set of unintended consequences. Fear...of your own government...of bear traps...of obstructions...of hurdles...of complexity? (Huh?!)

I don't know about you, but I have a POSITIVE life philosophy. When it comes to protecting our environment, I have a positive outlook that we can do the right things and at the same time preserve our community, our homes and our livelihoods.

And I think national forests are a good thing - and should be protected permanently. Why are we even having this discussion? That which brought us here, which sustains us, nurtures us, and reminds us every day why we are here? We find these answers in the sound of the wind in the trees, and the sound of silence that speaks to us.

If you are a homeowner, the permanent protections of the NSA will enhance your home value and the quality of life in the red rocks.

If you are a business owner - especially here in Big Park - the NSA protects your enterprise and creates new opportunities to attract visitors and grow your business.

People come here for the beauty, what we enjoy every day! If you are a hiker or conservationist, the NSA ensures that you and future generations will continue to enjoy our national forests as they exist today.

I am heartened to have neighbors, colleagues and friends - like all of you - who truly value Red Rock Country. And I hope you will agree that, by saying yes to National Scenic designation, we are declaring our commitment to Preserving the Wonder of Sedona, and saying no to short-sighted investors who won't hesitate to make a quick buck at the expense of our forests and our communities, and then vanish.  

Will your legacy to future generations be the preservation of the breath-taking, pristine beauty of our red rocks and forests?

If so, please voice your support for the Sedona-Red Rock National Scenic Area designation.

Let's Keep all of Sedona Beautiful. Thank you.

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