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Sedona officials urge limits on all-terrain vehicles on local forest land

The U.S. Forest Service is considering a request from Sedona leaders to limit off-road-vehicles in the area. In recent years use has exploded, which city officials say has detrimental effects on the environment and community.

Last month Sedona Mayor Sandra Moriarty requested that Coconino National Forest officials put in place a limited-entry permit system for OHVs, or off-highway vehicles.

She says unregulated traffic, speeding and reckless driving on forest roads and trails is damaging plant life and soil, causing erosion and disturbing wildlife.

"Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and we must protect every acre of this sacred land we have been entrusted with," wrote Moriarty in a Nov. 2, 2021 letter to Coconino National Forest officials. "This unregulated traffic has created substantial environmental damage, health and public safety issues, high fire danger from dead trees, potential harm to the precious heritage sites, and general nuisance issues within residential neighborhoods, such as noise, trash, and odor emissions. The current situation is unsustainable and must be corrected."

Forest officials haven’t committed to a permit system and this week said they’re working with the agency’s regional office and state officials to determine jurisdiction.

They’ll officially respond near the end of next month.

A permit system for Sedona’s Soldier Pass area currently allows only a dozen OHV users a day.

Coconino Supervisor Laura Jo West threatened to close some trails to motorized use entirely unless businesses addressed the problems.

Several local OHV rental and tour businesses have since have formed a group that focuses on trail conservation and rider education.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered 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 Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.