Final decision released on Soldier Pass motorized use proposal
Release Date: Mar 27, 2017
Contact(s): Red Rock RD Recreation Special Uses: Julie Rowe 928-203-7516, Red Rock RD Permit Administrator: Adam LaDell 928-203-2928, Media Contact: Brady Smith or George Jozens 928-224-8306
Update: Roads remain closed to motorized use by the general public until the permit system mentioned in the article is implemented. The trailhead and parking lot are open.
The Decision Notice directed the Red Rock Ranger District to work with a collaborative group of stakeholders to develop the public permit system for Soldiers Pass Road. We are currently working through this process. The permit system is anticipated to be in place in late 2017. Project details, maps and additional information are available on the Soldier Pass Motorized Use Project website.
Sedona, Arizona — A final decision has been made by Coconino National Forest regarding the Soldier Pass motorized use proposal, which should reduce the volume of motorized traffic in the area and reduce the conflicts that are occurring as a result of this use.
Based on the Environmental Assessment (EA), Finding of No Significant Impact and public comments, Coconino National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West has issued a final decision notice, which is Alternative C.
The final decision allows motorized use of Soldier Pass road by Red Rock Western Jeep Tours and up to 12 unguided public vehicles each day after a permit system has been established. The Red Rock Ranger District will convene a collaborative group on April 20 to begin developing parameters for the public permit system. This will occur within the framework of the existing Off-Highway Vehicle Working Group, which is a partnership of the City of Sedona, the Forest Service and stakeholders interested in OHV issues.
“As the popularity of motorized recreation increases, so do concerns over impacts to other recreational uses and to the quality of life in adjacent residential areas,” said West. “Moving in this direction represents a balanced approach and will reduce impacts to residential areas while still maintaining recreational opportunities for motorized travel on a four-wheel drive road.”
Red Rock Western Jeep Tours, the currently-permitted outfitter/guide company, will continue to have motorized access to the road. However, Soldier Pass road will be closed to motorized use by the public beginning
this week Monday, April 3 when gate installation starts, and will remain closed to public motorized use until a permit system is established. The Soldier Pass Trailhead and parking lot will be closed for up to three days during gate installation, starting April 3.
Hikers wanting access to the Soldier Pass area during the closure (early the week of April 3) can still enter from other trailheads, such as Jim Thompson and Adobe Jack during the parking lot closure. See Red Rock Ranger District recreation information for maps, trail guides, and other useful information.
The project was co-funded by the City of Sedona and Coconino National Forest in response to public concerns about the effects of increasing motorized use and impacts along Soldier Pass road.
The Soldier Pass area is surrounded by private homes, located northwest of Sedona and the road totals 1.2 miles of Forest Roads 9904, 9904B and 9904C. The EA considered four alternatives in detail:
- Alternative A was the “no action” alternative, and would continue current management.
- Alternative B would have restricted motorized use of Soldier Pass Road to an outfitter/guide service and adjusted the outfitter/guide use authorization to improve consistency with other motorized outfitter/guide use on the District.
- Alternative C was the proposed action, which would have adjusted the outfitter/guide use authorization to improve consistency with other motorized outfitter/guide use on the District and established a free permit system to limit public use to 12 permits per day.
- Alternative D would have closed Soldier Pass Road to all recreational motorized use.
These alternatives were developed with the help of public involvement over the last several years. The EA contains additional information about these alternatives, the project’s background, and analysis of the potential effects of implementing these alternatives.
Members of the public wishing to participate in the collaborative group to develop parameters for the public permit system should contact Adam LaDell, special uses permit administrator for the Red Rock Ranger District, at 928-203-2928 or email@example.com.
For more information on this project please contact Julie Rowe, recreation special uses program manager for the Red Rock Ranger District, at 928-203-7516 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Project details, maps and additional information are available on the Soldier Pass Motorized Use Project website.