VOC businesses hear the Call of the Trails
It’s a commonly held notion that maintaining the recreational trail system in Red Rock Country is fully funded by the USFS via tax dollars. The fact is, federal allocations cover only about 8% of the almost $1 million-per-year cost of maintaining and enhancing the 411 miles of non-motorized trails.
In 2013, a group of concerned residents, business interests and local government agencies recognized that the Red Rock trails had become a hot ticket, and as a result the forest was suffering. Federal funding levels were clearly insufficient to meet the needs for maintaining and enhancing a trail system that would satisfy the growing user demands. It was apparent that significant planning and ongoing financial support was needed to achieve sustainability.
A key part of the solution they arrived at was the formation of the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF), a non-profit 501c3, as an official partner to the Red Rock Ranger District. The mission of the SRRTF was, and continues to be, to raise the necessary funding to ensure proper stewardship of the non-motorized trail system in and around Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.
Since inception, the SRRTF has raised in excess of $3.0 million dollars, of which $638,000 was generated in FY 2022 ending 9/30/22. In the last nine years this infusion of cash to the USFS has funded 61 additional miles of trails, updated signage and wayfinding, general maintenance and upkeep, and complex renovations such as the Cathedral Rock Trail.
Businesses understand the value of safe, sustainable trails
The USFS is perennially underfunded. To consistently produce the level of funding necessary to satisfy the District’s yearly budget deficit, and provide stability for the organization’s long term health, the SRRTF has developed three major sources of funding: grants, philanthropic donations and business programs.
In spite of the raucous economic environment of the last three years, the Sedona business community has rallied on behalf of the trails. For the reporting period 2019-2022, businesses contributed 27% of the total donations to the SRRTF. This fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023, business support is predicted to be approximately $155,000.
Zooming in closer on that number reveals an impressive level of support from main street VOC. In the first three FY quarters, Village businesses and non-profits contributed close to $30,000, and part of these contributions directly resulted in over $166,000 in additional contributions. Twelve Village businesses are part of the Trail Keepers program that involves a $1,000/year commitment for 5 consecutive years, backed by funds from the City of Sedona through bed tax levies. Compounding over the five years, that support makes a huge impact.
The VOC business contributors are mostly small enterprises – family-owned, sole proprietorships and franchises – that appreciate the role the trails play in the health of our community, and consequently their success. These Village businesses include 72Sold, Absolute Bikes, Eye Boutique of Sedona, Famous Pizza, Holiday Inn Express, Horse Mesa Ranch, Las Posadas of Sedona, Red Agave Resort and Village Yoga.
New business program launched
In July, the SRRTF launched Trail Champions, a new business sponsorship program that comes with a rich package of helpful customer information materials and marketing visibility benefits. Whereas the Trail Keeper program is capped at 52 participants until 2025, Trail Champion sponsorship is a flexible one-year commitment that can start at any time. Information is available at redrocktrailfund.org or contact Camille Cox at email@example.com.
In September, the SRRTF will unpack the District’s exciting project initiatives for fiscal year 2024.