Council gets update on Travel Management Plan

Greetings Neighbors! Thank you to all who attended last month's Council Meeting. Red Rock District Ranger Heather Provencio updated us on Forest Service activities including the Travel Management Rule Plan and news from the Visitor's Center. Ranger Provencio expressed gratitude to all the volunteers our Community provides to the US Forest Service helping with its many responsibilities keeping Public Lands open and safe. The Council and Community are thankful for the outstanding US Forest Service Firefighters that protect our Wildland/Urban Interface and our Sedona Fire District Fire crews who coordinate and work together to protect us as true safety professionals.

I'd also like to remind you of SFD Deputy Fire Marshall/Public Information Officer Gary Johnson's words to us about making certain our house numbers are very visible at all times in case of emergency.

Officer Johnson described a good method of determining whether your property address is visible enough, "Can the pizza guy find your house?" He was only partly joking and trying to illustrate with humor a very serious safety issue for all of us. Please make sure your house number is easily readable and even appropriately lit at night.

The next safety issue that the SFD would like to assist us with is changing batteries in smoke detectors that require a ladder. Officer Johnson asserted that the SFD crews on duty would much rather take our call for assistance sooner to change a battery, provided they are not on an emergency (they even have a good tall ladder), than have to take our call after some contraption we've constructed to climb up, has toppled on us.

He had some pretty funny descriptions of what people will do to climb up instead of calling for help ahead of time. Again, some gentle humor about a very serious issue.

The SFD has the equipment and would much prefer to keep us safe by making a simple house call to change a smoke detector battery that requires a ladder. Call (928) 284-6803 for assistance with anything of a non-emergency nature. And many thanks to our SFD crews for their care and concern.

The month of November will bring forward an important regional issue.

The Verde River Basin Partnership, created by federal legislation (see www.verderiverbasinpartnership.org ), will be seeking federal funds to accomplish the scientific studies of the Verde River Basin required by this federal law. There is a strong letter to the Arizona Congressional Delegation and a grass roots campaign of letters to be sent from all of us reinforcing to Congress, the critical need of a free flowing Verde River.

Here is an excerpt from the letter to Congress:

"Are the water resources of the Verde River Basin at risk? In an Arizona Republic Article (12/2003) Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) Director Herb Guenther asked and answered: "Will there be an overdraft situation in the Verde River Basin if we continue the way we are? YES." Another question that should be asked is: What is there to be gained by further delay of scientific studies? The Partnership agrees with Director Guenther that continuing as we are puts us at risk and there is an immediate need for the scientific studies. Citizens of the Verde River Basin and visitors to the area from Arizona, the United States, and around the world have come to appreciate the scenic and recreational experience provided by the surface waters located within the Verde River Basin. In addition, these readily observed surface water resources are critically connected to the Verde River Basin groundwater supplies, local economies, citizen quality of life, and protection of private property values. They are also a visual reminder of the condition of groundwater supplies the eye cannot see."

Please take the time to visit the website and send off a letter with your signature, if you haven't already done so!

Regionally, our Yavapai County Trails preliminary draft map continues to make the rounds of neighborhoods. If you haven't had the chance to study it, please contact your Big Park Council Representative and if you don't have one or know whom that might be, email the Council at info@bigparkcouncil.org and we'll be glad to help you.

The Council has also taken action and unanimously reaffirmed the continuation of our Community Plan Review Process. There are several other articles about this in this month's Villager. Once again, we ask you to be engaged in this process and stay involved so that outcomes are truly the product of the most possible people working together. Even if you live elsewhere most of the time or have a second home here, your opinions and perspectives are much needed and desired by all of us. A questionnaire will be prepared with assistance from County staff and your few moments of time and thoughtful reflection will go miles toward a collaborative process that has meaning for all of us.

We have some critical issues coming to the surface here and now. How do we want them to be addressed? The Red Rock Scenic Byway, AZ's first All-American Road is complete: How can the business corridor compliment the Byway? How do you want that to look? The I-17 Interchange is in ADOT's next planning stages for complete reconstruction. How do you want our front door at Exit 298 to look? Our surrounding National Forest Lands are the subject of much discussion and planning as the Forest Plan is currently being reviewed. How can all stakeholders be involved to protect our scenic beauty?

These are just a few questions that come to mind. There are many others. Our Community has a strong tradition of helping itself. Let us all continue along those positive paths. Now is the time to reflect and dialogue with each other about this beautiful place we call home, our "Gateway to a Blessed Land."

In this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of how grateful I am to each of you, the tireless volunteers, for your collegial approach to address diverse points of view, for your love of our land here and for your great spirit of discovery about whom we are and what we want to become. Thank you for the privilege and pleasure to serve as your Council President.

I hope to meet you at a Council or Community meeting soon! Your emails and inquiries have been very welcome and I welcome them all at President@bigparkcouncil.org . Our next Council meeting is on November 12th at 9am. We will hear from Sedona Public Library Trustee Ann Mieggs and Past Council President Carolyn Fisher about our Village Library Annex. It is the Council's hope that we will learn how much of our tax dollars go to Yavapai County for the Library Fund and how much of those taxes return to our Community for our Village Library Annex.

The Big Park Regional Coordinating Council meets the second Thursday of each month at 9am in the Sedona Fire District Station #3 on Slide Rock Road. If your neighborhood or community is not a member of the Council, let us know and we'll be happy to help explain the process. All are welcome!

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