You can sense excitement building for Thanksgiving and it is no wonder. Besides friends, family, food and shopping, the long holiday weekend promises cooler weather, slanting light and starry nights, making Sedona more beautiful than ever.
It’s a perfect time to reflect on what we can do to assure beautiful red rock Thanksgivings for generations to come.
Sedonans have always been ready to get our hands dirty to keep our beloved environment healthy. In recent years the Oak Creek Watershed Council volunteers and Stewards of Sedona have removed thousands of pounds of trash from the waterway. That’s good news. Thanks to Council volunteers, Oak Creek is cleaner, unsanitary messes have been eliminated, and wildlife is better off, since access to trash can make them dependent on humans for food. Congratulations to all involved! You are making Sedona better.
We also benefit from a group that prevents environmental damage from happening in the first place. The people at Leave No Trace Center (LNT) for Outdoor Ethics are longtime friends of Sedona, in partnership with the Red Rock Ranger District. LNT’s research is celebrated across the country for convincingly showing how each of us can help solve problems of polluted water, trashed natural areas, fire danger and threats to wildlife.
The key is their scientific approach. Leave No Trace has investigated best practices for wildland interaction for decades, and studies show people are more willing to adopt LNT practices because of their data-driven credibility.
LNT’s research-supported findings are neatly summarized in their Seven Principles for enjoying the natural world responsibly:
1. Plan and prepare. Carry a map or GPS. Do not mark trails. Plan according to your capabilities. Be prepared for weather and emergencies.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. These include maintained trails, designated campsites, rock, gravel, or snow. Camp at least 200 feet from lakes or streams.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly. Plan meals that avoid smelly garbage. Pack out your trash – even buried garbage attracts animals. Carry bags to transport waste. Know appropriate methods for disposing of or transporting human waste.
4. Minimize Campfire Impacts. Consider lightweight camping stoves. They are safer, require no wood and leave no trace. If you want a fire, an existing campsite fire ring is the best place.
5. Leave what you find. Do not disturb historic or prehistoric structures and artifacts. Leave natural objects such as antlers, bones or interesting rocks where they are. Avoid damaging live plants and trees.
6. Respect wildlife. Observe wild animals from a distance. Do not touch, approach or interact with them. Never feed animals, which disrupts their natural behaviors. Leash your pets or leave them at home.
7. Be Considerate of Others. Yield. Be courteous. Take breaks off the trail. Keep voices down, group sizes small and pets under control.
While Sedona’s government leaders, businesses, nonprofits and land managers are working together to achieve a sustainable tourism future, individual awareness is still critical to success. Leave No Trace offers excellent tips on how each of us can make a difference while enjoying life in one of the world’s most magical places.
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau joined the Leave No Trace organization as a Community Partner in September 2019. We are looking forward to implementing and promoting these Seven Principals throughout our ongoing work with the Sustainable Tourism Plan.