|USFS introduces new recreation pass|
|Written by Staff Reporter|
|Thursday, 16 December 2010 00:00|
One pass is not the same as the other.
Recreation Resource Manage-ment representatives said they are cutting pass prices for frequent visitors to three of their day use sites in the Sedona area. Fees for camping and day usage will also be reduced.
A new pass, called the “Big Three Pass,” is currently being offered for $18 a week, or $40 for a one-year period. The Big Three Pass will be honored at Crescent Moon, Call of the Canyon and Grasshopper Point day use areas, areas where the Red Rock Pass can no longer be used.
Warren Meyer, president of Recreation Resource Management, said he felt like his company had an opportunity to reduce fees during a recent concessionaires’ bid process. The annual pass, he said, offers substantial savings for those who live in the area.
“There’s a lot of demand locally from folks that live next to these places,” Meyer said. “For example there are a lot of people that live around Crescent Moon Ranch that want to be able to go out there every day and walk their dog and have some kind of annual pass. That was something we were happy to offer. It’s sort of a 365-day visit for the price of five. I think it will be quite a bargain for local folks who were, I think justifiably, disappointed that the pass went away last year.”
While the pass is currently available at the Call of the Canyon, located at the West Fork Oak Creek trailhead, they will soon be available at the Oak Creek Visitor Center, Grasshopper Point and Indian Gardens.
In 2011, fees at Crescent Moon and the Call of the Canyon day use areas will be reduced to $9 a vehicle from $10 a vehicle. Grasshopper Point day use fees will stay at $8 a vehicle.
Campground rates will also drop at Cave Springs, Manzanita and Pine Flat. The Chavez Crossing and Clear Creek group campground will also be reduced. Cave Springs, Manzanita and Pine Flat will drop to $18 per night. Clear Creek and Beaver Creek campground rates will remain at $16 per night.
“We’re dropping our fees there in the Big Three at the Oak Creek Canyon area from $10 to $9, whereas state parks raised their fees at Slide Rock from $10 to $20. I know that people in the Sedona area can be suspicious of private enterprise but there are real advantages to being able to run a business independently in that you can keep the fees down.”
Red Rock District Ranger Heather Provencio said the district wanted to offer the new pass for local residents who frequent the sites.
“Crescent Moon is a very popular place for locals to hike,” Provencio said. “We wanted an opportunity for them to be able to get a yearlong pass, since we are not able to offer that with our Red Rock Pass now.”
Provencio said fees are required at sites run by concessionaires, and the Red Rock Pass does not apply there.
“The Red Rock Pass is good at any of our sites that are developed in the 160,000 acres that surround Sedona,” she said. “The Big Three Pass is for our concessionaire sites. That would include Crescent Moon, Grasshopper, and West Fork of Oak Creek, also known as Call of the Canyon. Those are sites run by the concessionaires and people pay a fee to go to those. People are required to pay a fee separate from the Red Rock Pass because those sites are run by concessionaires.”
When it comes to changes for the Red Rock Pass, Provencio said work is continuing on seeking public comment regarding whether the pass is needed.
“We’ve just hired someone to help us with that public process, gathering comments, and we’re looking for feedback on what people think about a pass. We want to share with them some of the benefits we have as a result of that pass and kind of talk through some various scenarios on that pass,” Provencio said. “Do we keep things the way they are? Or do we look at possibly shrinking our area where that pass is required or possibly just keeping it at our more developed sites and we’ll be talking to people about the trade-offs and about other ways for managing recreation in the area beyond that kind of fee.”
Within the next three months, Provencio said people will have the opportunity to comment on the pass. Comments are also welcome on their website, found at www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino.
“Instead of one pass there’s two, but the prices of the two passes combined are very competitive with the old Red Rock Pass,” Meyer said. “The Forest Service is still offering a Red Rock Pass that applies to the Forest Service-run facilities. We’re offering it to the Big Three. If you compare the prices, it’s roughly equivalent to what the combined passes used to be like. Largely, we’re trying to get back to where we were a year ago.
“The goal all along, both ours and the Forest Service, was to get back to having the ability to have a pass for both Forest Service and concession-run facilities at a reasonable price and that’s what I think we have done.”
Sedona City Council members revoked Resolution No. 2002-32, opposing the Red Rock Pass, during their regular meeting Nov. 10, in favor of a more neutral stance on the matter. Members said they plan to revisit the Red Rock Pass issue during the upcoming public comment period hosted by the Coconino National Forest. Council members voted unanimously to revoke the resolution during the November meeting.
Nearly 4 million people visit the red rocks of Sedona each year. Of that 4 million, an estimated 1.5 million make their way into the Coconino National Forest annually. There are 16 developed campgrounds within the Red Rock Ranger District, with seven wilderness areas, three public cultural sites, roughly 300 miles of trails, two historic cabins and more.
Recreation Resource Manage-ment operates over 150 parks in 12 states throughout the country. Besides the Forest Service, the private management firm also works with water districts, state and county agencies. In addition to parks and campgrounds, the firm also runs more traditional concession operations such as stores.