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Sedona Mayor advocates to close most popular trails and trailheads

Post Date:03/31/2020 8:57 p.m.

SEDONA, Ariz. – To continue measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty, along with other Verde Valley and Yavapai County leaders, are in preliminary discussions with the U.S. Forest Service’s Red Rock Ranger District management to evaluate closing the most popular trails and trailheads where social distancing is not being practiced.

Moriarty, Yavapai County Supervisor Randy Garrison, and Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff all support the Forest Service taking action, and Red Rock Ranger District Manager Amy Tinderholt and Coconino National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West expressed a desire to work collectively with local jurisdictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Despite over 75 percent of Americans under some form of lockdown order, and Arizona under its own stay-at-home order until April 30, 2020, the Red Rock Ranger District reports high usage of popular trails and much higher than normal usage of dispersed camping. The Forest Service has already closed certain active management areas such as the campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon.

In the coming days, Red Rock Ranger District management is committed to evaluating destinations, areas and trails with concentrations of people and moving forward with strong measures, including potential additional closures of sites, areas and trails.

If popular trails and trailheads closed, the Mayor hopes visitors would be more inclined to heed the many states that have issued orders for their residents to stay home. “All those wanting to visit Sedona should stay home and reschedule for another time. We cannot afford to risk the capacity of our local hospitals or the lives of our healthcare workers and vulnerable citizens because people want to take a vacation,” said Moriarty.

The city recognizes that in accordance with Governor Ducey’s stay-at-home order, keeping trails open is important to mental health in these challenging times, but ultimately action may be needed for the overall safety of the community. More information and exact details will be released in coordination with the Red Rock Ranger District in the coming days on trails and trailhead closures.  

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