Saturday, April 19, 2014

Public versus Private Land Management Sedona, AZ versus Kanab, UT

Near Tom's Canyon Trail in Kanab, UT
I have spent my entire life basing all my locational decisions on the availability of public lands near my home.  I made career choices so I could live in the Adirondack Mountains of New York which had a spectacular arrangement of public and private lands.  When I lived near Elizabethtown, NY, I had an amazing array of public lands to spend my free time on.  I moved to Campobello Island, NB because of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park which is funded by Canada and the United States and is truly an international park, one of the only international parks in the world.  I thought I had found nirvana when I discovered Sedona, AZ, a small town surrounded by the amazing red rocks on the Red Rock District of the Coconino National Forest.  Within two years, I had bought a house there and made it my primary home.

My attitude has totally changed in the past week, however.  First, I discovered that the National Forest has been "sold" to 30 permit holders near Sedona.  Individual use is tolerated, but they would rather you go out on a "guided" tour in groups by jeep, mountain bike or balloon.  In the past few days I spent in Sedona, I found a forest parking lot off Lower Red Rock completely filled with balloon chasers hanging out and smoking at 7AM when I was hoping for some solitude.  Groups of mountain bikers have several times nearly mowed me over in the past few months. In fact, they would have if I had not jumped off the trail. The jeeps are everywhere and seem to be multiplying.  If you read this document you will see that they are permitted for many thousands of tours per year: Reissuance of large permits for Red Rock Ranger District for 10 years Obviously, it will not be getting better for those seeking solitude.  Therefore, I decided to see how other areas are handling these issues. I picked Kanab, UT since it has very similar scenery and is also a small town.  It also has a very nice stock of historic homes since it has a history dating back to the 1800's.  Things are very different here...  Kanab has a series of hiking and equestrian trails with wonderful brochures created by http://trailskanab.com/http://trailskanab.com/.  The image at the top of the blog is from near the Tom's Canyon trailhead.  Many of the trailheads and most of the trails are on private land and are designated equestrian and hikers only! Who would have imagined that private land would be preferable to public land since they can institute any policies they wish.  I hope everyone treats this private land with care so it is not closed off to hikers and horses.

As a hiker, it is wonderful to not hear jeeps or ATV's grinding nearby and to not have to worry about a biker running you off the trail from either direction.  Horses are very compatible with hiking.  I would imagine most of the reason I have not seen horses in Sedona recently is that bikes and horses are not compatible uses on narrow trails.  I realized today that it was the first time I had relaxed while hiking in a long while.  I took hundreds of photos as the scenery matched and exceeded the views around Sedona.