Much-needed improvements didn’t happen overnight
Happy Birthday, America! To my fellow Red Rock Country residents, I hope you and your family enjoy a fabulous 4th of July.
I have much to share since my last Villager column.
In June, I was honored to be selected by the Board of Directors as the President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. I had been serving as the Interim President/CEO since March. I am grateful to the Board for their confidence and our excellent Chamber staff and volunteers - many of whom are Village residents - for their dedication and hard work.
I also want to thank our many VOC-based Chamber partners for supporting our tourism management mission, which focuses on balance. If you have tried yoga, you know balance requires constant adjustment. That’s sustainable tourism in a nutshell; never finished and continuously refined.
Like a yoga practitioner, you notice progress over time, which has been our story this year. The Sedona Shuttle trailhead service launched in March from two park and ride lots, one on SR 179 just north of the Arrow Drive roundabout, and the other off of Carruth Drive at Posse Grounds Park serving Cathedral Rock, Little Horse, Dry Creek Vista, and Soldier Pass trailheads. The service has been a big hit logging over 85,000 passenger boardings within the first 54 days of service. With the USFS closing parking areas at two of the four trailheads when the shuttle is operating, the effects were immediate. Traffic and parking congestion in and around the most heavily impacted trailheads and neighborhoods was significantly reduced if not eliminated. As best expressed by one long term resident:
“It has immediately made an enormous difference in our neighborhood. Our street had been an overcrowded battle zone for the past couple of years, but that seems to have ended right when the shuttle started last week. I can’t tell you how big of a deal this is to myself and all of the residents down here. It is like a very heavy weight has been lifted from all of us.”
Additionally this year, we donated $102,000 to the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund to maintain the Red Rock Ranger District trails. $52,000 comes directly from 52 generous Chamber business partners. The balance comes from the Chamber tourism management fund - bed taxes paid by visitors and allocated to the Chamber by the Sedona City Council.
Most recently, we placed 50 colorful environmental conservation banners along SR179 and in Uptown in partnership with the City. Our holiday visitors can’t help but be reminded of the Sedona Cares Pledge and the Leave No Trace responsible recreation principles that the banners feature. This highly visible effort sets the tone for our expectations.
Like yoga, these improvements didn’t happen overnight. Instead, they required cooperation and patience, as we continually balance our economy with our environment and lifestyle. Please continue to practice this same patience over the July 4th holiday weekend, understanding that we historically see an uptick in visitation over holiday weekends. And as you pause, take a look around, and you’ll be reminded of the wondrous area we so gratefully get to call home.