#KeepItOpen – Protect the area around Walnut Canyon
By a very slim majority at the Dec. 16 meeting, Flagstaff City Council directed staff to prepare a resolution supporting protection of the entire Walnut Canyon Study Area from land trades. We hear that they will consider this resolution at their 6:00 pm January 20th meeting (confirm the agenda at http://cityweb.flagstaffaz.gov/agendaquick).
We thank Vice Mayor Celia Barotz and Council members Coral Evans, Scott Overton, and Eva Putzova for their support, and hope they will continue to protect Walnut Canyon! You can email them at Flagstaff City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
The vote was close, so please come out to show your support of Walnut Canyon Study Area! Read on below…
Some Flagstaff City Council members want to develop this gem in the future!
In response to growing concerns about land trades, in 2009, Congress mandated a study of the mostly unroaded area surrounding Walnut Canyon National Monument, to determine if there is a “designation or management option that would provide for
(i) protection of resources within the study area; and
(ii) continued access to, and use of, the study area by the public.”
The Study found that the only way to meet both those needs is to create a Congressionally-designated National Conservation Area with legislative language written to prevent land trades (“Option 2” of the Study).
This spring, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors endorsed that option. Flagstaff City Council will consider the same support. Some Flagstaff City Council members have indicated that they want to keep part of the area open for future development!
Protect your access forever! Tell Flagstaff City Council to support a National Conservation Area.
Help them make the right decision:
Come to Flagstaff City Hall (211 W. Aspen St. in Flagstaff) at 6pm on January 20 (confirm the agenda at http://cityweb.flagstaffaz.gov/agendaquick) to say (or sign a card saying) “YES – Support a National Conservation Area for the ENTIRE Study Area – Keep it Open!” You can also send a pre-written letter here.
Protect the entire Study Area from land trades and development forever with a National Conservation Area designation!
The Walnut Canyon Study Area includes a Globally Recognized Audubon Important Bird Area; Coconino National Forest Recognized Important Water; Arizona Game and Fish-designated Sustainable Wildlife Corridors; City of Flagstaff “Priority Open Land;” part of the Arizona Trail; prehistoric and historic artifacts; old growth forests; and opportunities for quiet solitude. There are popular spots for climbing, hiking, camping, biking, birding, hunting, and biking, including the Arizona Trail, Flagstaff Urban Trail System, Cherry Canyon, “the Pit” climbing area, Campbell Mesa Trail System, the floors of Walnut Canyon and Sandy Canyon, narrows in Skunk Canyon, Anderson Mesa grasslands, and the area northeast of Walnut Canyon National Monument.
While the study has been ongoing, a shooting range has now opened 0.25 miles from its eastern boundary and 4,500 new homes are planned along its west side, demonstrating the need to protect these special lands, and Forest Service lands adjacent to the boundary were traded to the City of Flagstaff several years ago. Yet the majority of the 30,000 acres remain quiet, litter-free, sparsely visited, and dense with wildlife.
- Large core habitats and wild places are becoming increasingly rare.
- It is easier to protect a place such as this than to piece it back together after fragmentation by land trades and destructive uses.
- You value quiet recreation and have respect for the wildlife that relies on these lands for refuge from roads and noise.
- These lands should be protected from land trades.
- Conservation should come first. This area should be designated as a National Conservation Area.
General information and Map Links
Map of Audubon Important Bird Area
Map of Arizona Game & Fish Department Sustainable Wildlife Corridors
City of Flagstaff Priority Open Lands language (on page 10)
My Story: In 1996, I visited Walnut Canyon National Monument with a geology class. I fell in love and decided I must find a way to see more of the colorful curvy canyon. Walnut Canyon’s vegetation, which consisted of plant communities representing Mexico to Canada; its archaeological treasures; its wildlife, including Arizona king snakes, endangered Mexican spotted owls, and black bears; and its beautiful buff-colored sandstone captured my heart. Two years later, I graduated and moved to Flagstaff.
In the last 15 years, I have spent many hours exploring the topography in the 30,000 acre parcel known as the “Walnut Canyon Study Area”. My first mountain biking pedal strokes were taken on the Arizona Trail within the Study Area and on the trails of Campbell Mesa. My horse and I enjoyed countless hours exploring the Arizona Trail, Sandy Canyon, Fisher Point, Skunk and Fay Canyons. We even had the pleasure of a mountain lion encounter one evening. My botany fetish was appeased in the riparian habitats at the floor of western Walnut Canyon, the hanging gardens of Skunk Canyon, and in the old growth ponderosa, oak, and pinyon habitats flanking the canyon. I met up with friends for afternoons climbing at “the Pit” and at Cherry Canyon. – Alicyn Gitlin