The Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund has made its mission for the past three years to work behind the scenes while raising money to help maintain the area’s trails, which are used by thousands of visitors and residents each year.
“It takes a village to sustain the trail system,” SRRTF President Jennifer Burns said. “No one organization or government entity is able to adequately support the extensive and heavily-used trail system that we have. If everyone takes a piece of the responsibility, then together we can ensure that our trails continue to provide all the benefits everyone wants.”
Recently, the group held a meeting in which stakeholders from around the area were invited. Burns said the purpose was to gather together community leaders who understand and appreciate the need for a healthy trail system, and to collaborate on ideas for sustainable funding of trail maintenance for the most popular trails.
There are various efforts going on to fund trail maintenance, through a variety of venues. Through this meeting she said they wanted to coordinate those efforts, inform everyone of what the current situation is and make more progress on the funding goal.
Burns said the meeting went well in terms of showing participants what the current situation is like while allowing everyone to meet, hear why they care about trails while getting the conversation started on ideas for sustainable funding.
“People were pretty excited to be working on something that will help our trails,” she said. “There was hopefulness about the future and being able to solve this, together. Most everyone who participated gets that the federal government is not going to come up with the funds to meet the need, for a number of reasons, and that the users and community need to help out.”
For an organization that is just three years old, Burns said they are doing well in terms of making a difference for trails. In 2015 they were able to donate $22,000 to the U.S. Forest Service and in 2016 it’s increased to $100,000. She said the reason for that dramatic of increase is due to the group being better known. She said the relationship between the USFS and the fund is solid and meets their mission, which is to raise and contribute trail maintenance dollars for trails near Sedona and to educate the public about the need for a healthy trail system.
Burns, who recently retired from the USFS, said it’s been a honor to be the organization’s new president.
“I have the benefit of a diverse board of directors — some from business, some retired or in health care, some are local community volunteers,” she said. “All are passionate about multi-use trails. This lends a really nice balance to our discussions and to the decisions we make. I really appreciated the make-up of the board and the support that they give the fund and me, as president.”
She said going from the USFS to working on the fund, its been really nice to be able to focus on basically one aspect of the area’s recreation. In addition, she said it’s a nice transition to be able to put her local trail knowledge and community connections to work on something she cares about.
The SRRTF does not do any trail maintenance, rather members give funding to the Forest Service so that they can hire crews and coordinate volunteers to do the work. In 2015 the group was directly responsible for the construction of the new Scorpion, Pyramid and Skywalker trails — about six miles of new trails. It also contributed to the overall district maintenance goal of 137 miles of trail maintained.
Currently, the SRRTF gathers donations from boxes around town as well as participant in several community events. It also receives donations from local businesses, online and through grants. Despite their efforts and an increase in money presented to the USFS, funding is always an issue, she said.
“At the meeting we showed some stats that show that the full approximate need for basic maintenance is $425,000,” she said. “At this time we have [all sources combined including city of Sedona and USFS] about half that — not bad.”
Burns feels basic funding is still an issue partly because people just generally don’t notice the condition of the trails until they are severely eroded and most people don’t have the knowledge about trail maintenance.
“I think most people are unaware of the amount of use our trails get,” she said. “And when you have thousands of tourists coming into the area just for a few days a year, how do they take responsibility?”
SFFRT will be hosting a similar meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the Vultee Room at Sedona City Hall. For more information on the organization, visit
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