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Tue, Oct. 22

Sedona delays decision to support National Monument status

A police officer gives participants in the National monument proposal meeting at the Sedona Council Tuesday directions to seats. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

A police officer gives participants in the National monument proposal meeting at the Sedona Council Tuesday directions to seats. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

SEDONA -- The Sedona City Council heard four hours of arguments in favor, but mostly against, endorsing a National Monument designation for the 160,000 acres around Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.

Then, at Mayor Sandy Moriarty's urging, council members agreed "to slow down the process" and make no decision until Councilwoman Angela LeFevre could be present and could take part in the discussion.

Moriarty said LeFevre "was the lead proponent" who asked the council to have a voice.

The mayor admitted, "Until I have all my questions answered, I am a 'no vote.'"

Four other councilmembers agreed and voted in favor of putting off a vote. John Martinez voted against the motion. He said he was "disappointed that we are not going to make this decision tonight."

The council suggested the issue would be discussed during a special meeting Wednesday, when it talks about council priorities for the coming year.

It was standing room only in the Sedona council's spacious chambers with interested citizens spilling into the outside patio. Most spent four hours with the Council, listening to arguments in favor of advancing a National Monument designation created around Sedona and the several groups who oppose the plan.

Sedona City Manager Justin Clifton delivered a researched analysis of what would happen if a national monument was enacted and how. He said a key issue is that "a coalition is important. You need a very broad coalition. You need non-traditional partners."

Clifton said there is "both threat and opportunity," with a management plan but the best management plans come "from balance."

From the gathering before the council, it is clear that Norris Peterson, executive vice president of Keep Sedona Beautiful, will have his hands full reaching a coalition.

In his presentation to the council, Peterson said in the past month, the dialogue has "changed from one of information, to one that has been politicized." But, he claimed that the audience has the most to fear from the opposition, which he contends is interested in converting federal lands to state-controlled lands that could be privatized.

"The mission of the opposition is exactly what they accuse us of. That is what we are fighting," said Peterson.

He said that Amendment 12 of the Coconino Forest Plan has protected lands around Sedona from being converted into more private house lots, but unlike the widespread community involvement that helped form that Forest Plan Amendment in 1998, it has only been KSB that continued the community involvement into the current plan update and made 31 recommendations.

The crowd also heard from Citizens United opposing the Red Rock National Monument. Laurie Moore said that the argument, "Nothing will change is disingenuous at best."

Ron Volkman voiced the opposing argument for the Sedona/Verde Valley Board of Realtors. He said the KSB proposal contains "dangerous possibilities" and "is a very real threat to private property rights, grazing and water rights." He said the proposal needs "freedom and creativity, and the National Monument process will bog that down."

Arizona Liberty spokesman Dwight Kadar also voiced opposition to the 1906 Antiquities Act on which a Presidential designation for monument status is authorized.

He says tenants of that act should "protect historical artifacts," be contained in the "smallest area possible" and that "private property may be relinquished to the federal government."

State House member Bob Thorpe specifically voiced his opposition to creation of more national monuments of which Arizona has 11, including 3.8 million acres, the greatest amount of National Monument land in the country.

Prescott Office Manager Julie Brown spoke for Congressman Paul Gosar in his opposition.

In all, 23 more local citizens spoke against the designation. Seven voiced their support.

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