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10 years of trail stewardship: SRRTF continues legacy of preservation

In November, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund is kicking off a year of activities to raise public awareness of the organization’s mission and to celebrate their 10-year anniversary.

Veterans Volunteer Public Lands Work Day The first celebration event is a special opportunity for local veterans to spend a few hours working together on the Soldiers Pass restoration project.

This Red Rock Ranger District Volunteer Work Day is being sponsored by the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at the east side parking lot of Posse Grounds Park and will be led by USFS staff. No special skill or knowledge is needed – all tools, safety equipment and instruction will be provided. Participants need only arrive in work clothes and sturdy footwear.

Veterans tribute picnic at Posse Grounds Afterwards, starting at noon at the Posse Grounds, all veterans are invited to a free picnic with food and beverages. There will be a live local band, raffle prizes and a special tribute to all veterans for their service.

From $0 to $3,000,000 in less than a decade

In 2013, a small group of citizens, trail lovers, USFS staff and local government representatives convened monthly meetings that lasted a year in an effort to find a solution to the perennial government funding shortfall for trail maintenance. It was recognized that federal allocations could never support the demands of a recreational trail system that would meet the needs of the public, the residents and the ecosystem. From these discussions, the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund was established as a nonprofit entity, with a mission to raise funding to support the planning and ensure sustainability of the non-motorized trails in the areas surrounding Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.

This volunteer-led group works hand in hand with USFS officials to forecast the ways and means to accomplish the essential recreational trail maintenance, renovation, and enhancements, year after year.

In the decade since inception, with impressive support from local businesses and individual donors, the trail fund has raised in excess of than $3 million. In fiscal year 2023, just ended Sept. 30, the group successfully raised $656,405.

Challenges on the Horizon

Compounding the impacts of increased usage, expansion of system trail miles and extreme weather – inflation, labor cost and shortages have further squeezed the USFS capacity. The annual budget for trail maintenance for the Sedona area is now approaching $1 million.

Keeping pace with those needs, the SRRTF has approved a five-year strategic plan that includes new ideas for tapping visitor donations, boosting its endowment fund, and providing donors with more options for recurring donations and planned giving.

In November and December, the SRRTF will be reaching out to the public to support its annual year-end drive, with a goal of raising $175,000. All donations are tax-deductible and the first $15,000 received by Dec. 31 will be matched by donor pledges.

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