Letter: Buying Granite Dells would boost tourism
As a newly returned former resident, I have been trying to catch up with the affairs of the town and surrounding counties. What grabbed my attention a couple of days ago was the Flagstaff City Council's acquisition of Picture Canyon for $4.8 million. The Growing Smarter State Trust Land Acquisition Fund contributed 2.4 million. Flagstaff City Council matched that amount.
Flagstaff, like Prescott, Sedona and other nearby communities, relies on a virtual year-round influx of tourists - walkers, bikers, birders, etc. - who are attracted to the area on account of the relatively easy access to our magnificent natural resources. Those resources become more valuable each year as development slowly encroaches on what were once natural areas. It has been estimated that active outdoor recreation contributes $780 billion a year to the U.S. economy, contributing substantially to local and county taxes. The median age of nature-based recreational participants is 45; 48 percent are college graduates with annual household incomes between $47,700 and $85,000.
I was pleased to learn that our City Council, like Flagstaff's, has allocated funds derived from a publicly approved sales tax to acquire natural areas, parks and open space. This move by our council is a farsighted vision of a future where communities like ours - Sedona, and Flagstaff in particular - will compete aggressively for a larger share of the nature based tourist market.
One area that I hope the council will consider in its allocation of funds is the Granite Dells Resort. Purchase of this property would help to consolidate an extraordinary area of natural beauty, and enhance the Granite Dells overall attractiveness to recreational visitors who will sleep in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and spend money in downtown retail stores. The entire community would benefit from this purchase. Our children and their children will thank us. It will be a gift to posterity.
Roy H. Smith