Forest Destruction Crisis
Nothing is more important to our office or to me than constituent service. You have my word: If you have an issue and you bring it to our attention, we will work as hard as we can to help you resolve the issue efficiently and improve quality of life in our District and community.
One case in point: The destruction of forest lands, rising dust problems, trash issues and other problems being created by rising off-road vehicle traffic and illegal camping in the Bear Mountain area west of Sedona.
I first heard about this growing crisis from constituents who reached out and sent pictures of the damage being done to the Forest Road 525 area.
This is not simply a few joyriders damaging the environment. The damage done by these utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) and campers creates issues with dust, which harms the health of neighbors and hikers. Trees are being killed, plants destroyed, trash and human waste dumped in the forest and issues created for cattle ranchers.
Once I understood the full extent of the problem, I reached out to various levels of government, from federal forest leaders and Rep.Tom O’Halleran’s office to the state at Game & Fish to the county sheriff’s office to members of the Sedona Town Council.
Together with residents, these stakeholders have created a working group that includes all of the interested parties, including ATV/UTV rental business owners who want to be a part of a solution. We’ve met several times by Zoom to exchange information and ideas. My hope is, we can craft solutions here that cut across various governments and solve this issue to the satisfaction of our constituents and everyone who uses these lands lawfully.
What we are facing is not simply an environmental crisis – it also represents a rising humanitarian crisis. The campers who have made these Forest Service lands a temporary home are struggling with homelessness and they are in dire need of social services and public health services. With fire season nearly upon us and with meteorologists predicting an extremely severe monsoon, I am doing my level best to get in front of the human aspect of what’s happening by meeting with groups like the Northern Arizona Council of Governments and their executive director, Teri Drew. We cannot forget the people at risk; we must creatively solve all aspects of this issue to the best of our collaborative abilities.
I will keep you updated on our progress, rest assured. If you want to get a better sense of the serious traffic and dust that’s occurring, I urge you to watch resident Deanna Bindley’s video compilation shot in early March.
If you have an issue that you believe requires my attention, please reach out to the District 3 office using our website contact form.
We Need Your Help: Submit Your Ideas To Help Improve Yavapai County’s County Comprehensive Plan Update
Speaking of collaboration and resident engagement, we need your help ASAP to best express a collective vision and strategic plan for Yavapai County. As you read this, the Yavapai County Comprehensive Plan is under review. Renewed at 10-year intervals – and set to be finalized this year for release in 2022 – the 2032 County Comprehensive Plan will identify the county’s core values and our direction for the next decade. The plan guides zoning and planning outcomes for unincorporated Yavapai County and sets goals and policies for the county as whole.
The plan covers eight critical, interconnected elements: water resources, land use, environment, open space, transportation, energy, cost of development, and growth.
Here’s the county’s FAQ on the update process.
The value of the updated Comprehensive Plan comes from the shared vision and multiple perspectives represented during the revision process. We need your voice to be heard. The County is soliciting feedback from individual residents via a pair of online surveys you can access at https://planningyavapai2032.org/surveys.
One survey will collect your thoughts about aspects of the plan generally; a second survey drills down into our community’s vision for the future. Communities also weigh in via Community Plans, while our region’s organizations can file their own Vision Statements.
There will be more public meetings to come soon on the development of the latest version of the Comprehensive Plan. I will keep you in the loop moving forward.
I hope you’re having a terrific April. Please remember that even as the COVID-19 pandemic feels like it’s ramping down, we still need to be safe. Mask up to protect your health and the health of your neighbors, respect social distancing, wash your hands – and get vaccinated at one of our many event and healthcare vaccine locations.
Thank you for all you do to make Yavapai County better and for your ongoing support of our office.