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Should We Preserve The Sedona Verde Valley As A National Monument?

Sheri Sperry June 16, 2015

Sedona real estate

Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument

A Brief History of T. Roosevelt & The Conservationist Movement

“While my interest in natural history has added very little to my sum of achievement, it has added immeasurably to my sum of enjoyment in life.” Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

If you studied the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, you know he was a dedicated conservationist his entire life. We might not have the Grand Canyon and other National Parks as we know them today if it were not for Teddy Roosevelt. He established the Antiquities Act and signed it into law on June 8, 1906. The Act establishes the archeological sites on public lands as important public resources. It obligates federal government agencies to preserve and protect these lands for historic, scientific, cultural, commemorative and archeological purposes for present and future generations. It also authorizes the President to protect landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as National Monuments.

What Is The Difference Between A National Park and Monument?

This act grew out of concern in the last quarter of the 19th century that the rapid development of national lands would possibly endanger these sites and artifacts. Most of us really don’t see much difference between a National Park or Monument. National Parks are protected due to scenic, inspirational, education, and recreational value. A National Monument have objects of historical, cultural, and/or scientific value. A Monuments can be quite varied. For example, They may protect such areas or objects such as wilderness, fossils, forts, ruins, historic buildings or other structures. Historic cemeteries or battle grounds would also fall into the category of National Monuments or Parks.

Grand Canyon National Park Arizona

Famous National Parks include: Grand Canyon AZ, Great Smoky Mountains NC-TN, Hawaii Volcanoes HI, Sequoia CA, Shenandoah VA, Glacier Bay AK, Yellowstone WY-MT, Yosemite CA.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Utah

Famous National Monuments include: Fort Sumter SC, George Washington’s Birthplace VA, Rainbow Bridge UT, Statue of Liberty NY, White Sands NM, WWII Valor (Pearl Harbor) HI.

It Takes An Act of Congress….!

It literally takes an Act of Congress to establish a National Park. On the other hand, a National Monument can be established by the President through the use of the Antiquities Act.

Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument

A quick little story…. Legend has it that when Teddy Roosevelt was President, he was making his way west across the country to identify areas which could be considered for National Park or Monument designation. As he criss-crossed the states, he came down through Utah to the Grand Canyon and was going to continue south through Sedona but urgent business in Washington DC forced him to take a train out of Flagstaff back to DC. He never got to Sedona….

If you have ever visited Sedona or the Verde Valley, you know the beauty and majesty of the Red Rocks. The region is steeped in history and areas that need to be preserved. There are fossil sites as well as Petroglyphs and Pictographs, commonly referred to as “rock art”, throughout the Sedona-Verde Valley area. As many Native American sites need to be protected and preserved as possible. Some of these sites have already been discovered and preserved but others need to be identified. This area was a big part of the heritage of “Wild West”. There are forts, abandoned mines and historic buildings still standing in Cottonwood, Jerome, Camp Verde, and Sedona, all of which has been well preserved due to our mild dry climate. But the big question is …Do we need the federal government stepping in to usurp local and state authority?

national monuments

If you are not familiar with Sedona, this is a great site to learn about the area. You can learn about the communities of the Verde Valley at http://sellsedona.com/communities/ .

My Position On This Issue

I have been to a few meetings and many hours of discusssion on this subject. I along with most of the realtors and business community feels this is not only a bad idea but will harm future business, ranching and real estate values as already demonstrated in many western states where National Monuments have taken over. The system currently in place in the Verde Valley, is governed by local people for local people and it is working!

Without getting too far into the minutia of the proposal, the control of the entire area would fall under the control of the federal government. Every aspect of development or maintenance of property outside city limits would require permits of some sort and open to hearings and possible lawsuits before any development and in many cases maintenance can take place.

Ron Volkman voiced the opposing argument for the Sedona Verde Valley Assoc. of Realtors (SVVAR). at a Sedona City Council meeting. He said the KSB proposal contains “dangerous possibilities” and “is a very real threat to private property rights, graing and water rights.”

For example, if a dozer is needed to clear a wooded area of dead or dying trees the process above is the only way heavy equipment can be brought in to clear an area. In most cases, it becomes cost prohibitive for the land owner.

Furthermore, farms and ranches go out of business and the land is devalued. Water rights also come under the control of the federal government often to the detriment of the local population which loses control of conservation efforts and usage.

The feds have control over roads, trails, etc. so, they could easily close a trail or road without any local input if they deem that it is not in the “National” interest to maintain the road or trail. Camping in open lands currently would also be jeopardized or off limits in the proposed National Monument.

The state and local tax base is also depleted. Unlike eastern states, western states such as Arizona, Utah, Nevada, etc. are under much higher degree of federal control. To give you an example of how much initial property would be aquired for the monument, it would encompass 160,000 acres in and around Sedona and Village of Oak Creek.

As of 2010, here is an example of FEDERAL ownership of land.

Western States Federal Land Acreage

Nevada – 81.1%

Utah – 66.5%

Alaska – 61.8%

Idaho – 61.7%

Oregon – 53.0%

Wyoming – 48.2%

California – 47.7%

Arizona – 42.3%

Colorado – 36.2%

Eastern & Midwest States

New York – 0.7%

Rhode Island – 0.8%

Ohio – 1.1%

Illinois – 1.1%

Maine – 1.1%

Massachusetts – 1.6%

Pennsylvania – 2.1%

New Jersey – 3.7%

Wisconsin – 5.3%

If you consider Texas a western state (personally I consider it a southern state) it would be an exception to the rule at 1.8%. But, let’s remember that Texas was a country before becoming a state and Texas history and Texas mindset plays a big part in why the federal government does not have much land or control of the land. Reference information for the above chart can be found on page 5 of the Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data.

This has only increased since the print date. Once the Feds have control of an area they can annex more area with very little input from the state.

Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona


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