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Sedona OHV operators try increase sustainability as community pressure mounts

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All-terrain and off-highway vehicle rental and tour operators in Sedona say they’re trying to make their businesses more sustainable. It comes as skyrocketing use in the area has increased environmental damage and user conflicts. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

More than a dozen businesses operating in Sedona, Cottonwood and Flagstaff recently formed the Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew. Last month Pink Jeep, Outback ATV and others started dedicating 1% of sales to fund preservation programs and rider education. They estimate it could raise $400,000 a year for conservation efforts.

It comes after Coconino National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West threatened to close some off-highway routes in west Sedona. In a letter to the businesses in July, she said OHV use, and especially rentals, in the area have grown dramatically in the last decade causing damage to the desert environment. She also says there’s been a significant uptick in complaints about speeding, reckless driving, excessive dust, noise and off-road and trail use.

Registered OHVs in Arizona shot up to nearly half-a-million during the pandemic. Last year, the North American OHV market was valued at more than $5.5 billion  and is expected to grow to $7.5 billion by 2026.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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