Tag Archives: Sedona

Sedona Receives Coveted ‘Dark Sky’ Status

Kelli Klymenko | Sedona

Kelli Klymenko | Sedona

Stargazers now have another Arizona city they can visit for pristine views of the night sky. The International Dark-Sky Association has named Sedona an International Dark Sky Community, making it the second city in Arizona to receive the designation (Flagstaff is the other).

There now are just eight such communities in the world, and Arizona is the only place with two of them. The others are in California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, the United Kingdom and France.

As The Arizona Republic reports, the city has been active in reducing nighttime “light pollution” for the past 15 years. Sedona tourism officials hope the designation will help boost tourism in the area.

The IDSA also maintains a list of dark-sky parks. That list includes Arizona’s remote Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, which received its designation in March.


Filed under Et Cetera, Mother Nature, News

Guest Blog: The Lost Jewel by Larry Lindahl


Courtesy of Larry Lindahl

Courtesy of Larry Lindahl

Since the Slide Fire was first reported on May 20, the blaze has burned 21,217 acres of Oak Creek Canyon and is 90 percent contained. Below, photographer Larry Lindahl shares his thoughts about the fire and its aftermath.

The smoke blanket hangs motionless, obstructing majestic Thunder Mountain into a blue-gray ghost. Out of sight, over the rise, hidden from the masses, the burning of canyons and cliffs between Flagstaff and Sedona continues a slow but certain death. All we see is the smoke, transient evidence of mass destruction.

Many of us grieve, feeling the sadness of loss, knowing the jewel of Sedona, West Fork, will be severely altered by this devastation. The media has the maps and incident reports, numbers of personnel, lists of equipment, measurements, action plans and the reassurance that no structures were lost. And, thankfully, no human lives.

But for many of us, the loss is deeply emotional, a feeling of helplessness, anger, depression, longing for what was and remembering. Oh, yes, remembering. For me, West Fork was a church and a school, a playground and a sanctuary, a friend and a favorite relative, the ancient past and now an uncertain future.

Assuming the maps and reports of the fire are accurate, I brace for the reality that West fork is burnt beyond recognition, a disfigured and charred presence that once breathed as a beautiful and vibrant living being.

Some avoid the pain of loss with anger, withdrawal and denial. Some give the quick answer that West Fork will return, nature heals, fire is natural. Yes, and so is death and dying, and deep sadness. In the darkness of what has been lost are memories, only memories, and a grieving soul knows it can never return to what was.

Being with the mystery of emotions is not easy in our culture. “Get over it and move on” is our society’s way of handling the uncomfortable. I am not one who can escape these emotions. It’s been hard many times, but I feel the entire spectrum. West Fork, I cried for you yesterday.

My emotion slowly shifted, I’m entering the void of acceptance, walking through the pain of loss, and then last night it rained, and I felt the sky was crying, too.

West Fork was my church and school. I married my wife, Wendy, in West Fork on a brisk winter morning with a dusting of snow in the shadows. Our two lives were meeting to flow as one at the confluence of West Fork and Oak Creek, two streams meeting to flow as one.

Months earlier, I was photographing Wendy, on a warm afternoon near the confluence, doing her favorite yoga poses for a promotional flyer. We felt that first flutter of attraction not far from where we would give our vows to each other there in West Fork.

West Fork was my school as well as my church. It’s where I learned to connect with the subtle energies of nature. It’s where I learned to preserve a temporal moment in a photograph that held the imprint of those subtle energies.

And from that school I began having my photography published in Arizona Highways. A two-page photo spread of West Fork in early morning, the water making a crystal-clear reflection of what was above — a mirror of heaven on Earth — opened my second photo portfolio. The magazine article was titled Secret Sedona and garnered the magazine an international nature-photography award.

From that magazine article came a book with West Fork pictured on the back cover, one of seven photos of the canyon in the book Secret Sedona. On a special day in my life, I sat with the Arizona Highways books editor at Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market in Oak Creek Canyon. We sat in back and ate lunch, and I signed the contract, a moment that would change my life in so many interesting ways.

Afterward, we took an afternoon hike together in that very special place called West Fork. Halfway in, a bright-red, black and white bird caught an insect in mid-air only a few feet in front of me. Those moments in West Fork are so very special in my heart: so much beautiful history, so many vivid memories.

West Fork was my playground and sanctuary. Several summers ago, I backpacked, with one of my best friends, the entire length from near Flagstaff down to the confluence in Oak Creek Canyon. He and I scrambled along with his two boys, plunging into pools of cold, clear water and floating our gear through slot canyons before setting camp on a sandy beach in the heart of the canyon.

Our trip ended as a warm and gentle rain fell quietly from the summer sky. The glisten of rain made the rose-and-peach sandstone deep with color. Delicate flowers and grasses grew between river cobbles and cracks in the bedrock. It was moist with life, vulnerable and open. Secret gardens were waiting where hidden pools invited us to swim. The warm mists were primal and welcome. We shared our experiences soul to soul. We explored and played in this Eden.

West Fork was a sanctuary and a playground. It comforted me and healed me. It held me in its silent embrace. The breath of God touched it on a daily basis. It was nothing less than my vision of true paradise.

I’ve hiked in West Fork with my parents, authors, photographers and photography students, and my wife and friends, yet mostly by myself.

In the solitude, uninterrupted, listening and discovering, I found hummingbirds raising their young, fish darting to the next pool, butterflies by the dozen on one cluster of flowers, bergamots in bloom, monkeyflowers, golden columbines, lupines, penstemons, great blue herons, Cooper’s hawks, Steller’s jays, Coconino sandstone, red cliffs of Supai formation, maples and alders, clouds and blue sky.

But not today. Right now, as I write these words, the sky is thick with gray smoke. West Fork is burning, and there’s nothing we can do. The church is on fire, the school is burning, the playground is in flames, and the sanctuary is covered in ash. One of my best friends is dying today, just over the horizon.

I mourn the loss. Don’t tell me fire is natural — this one wasn’t. Don’t tell me it will come back again — not like the paradise I knew. Don’t tell me to move on, that life is about change — I need to feel and not turn away from these emotions. I am truly sad, and there’s honestly nothing I want to change about that. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. If the sky can cry, so can I.

—Larry Lindahl


Filed under Eco Issues

Throwback Thursday (We Love You Sedona & Oak Creek!): May 1959

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by | May 29, 2014 · 8:00 am

#SlideFire Consumes 10,609 Acres

Kelli Klymenko‎

Kelli Klymenko‎

The Slide Fire near Sedona continues to grow, consuming 10,609 acres of forest with containment at only 5 percent. Unfortunately, there isn’t much good news today. We’re hearing reports that this fire could double in size before firefighters are able to get it under control.

Below is the midday incident report from the Incident Information System:

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Slide Fire is located in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Slide Rock State Park and burning northward, predominantly on the west side of the canyon.

Size: Approximately 10,609 acres.

The weather conditions in the area of the Slide Fire remained fairly stagnant this morning. The failure of the air inversion to lift has grounded observation aircraft and prohibited the use of helicopters for aerial ignition. Line crews will continue to burnout by hand the area between the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon and Forest Road 535. Mop up is continuing around structures in Oak Creek Canyon.

Because of fire conditions Coconino County has instituted a ban on open burning on County public lands and private lands in the unincorporated areas of the County. The ban went into effect at 10:30 a.m. Friday May 23 and will remain in effect until fire danger conditions subside. Further information on this ban may be found at http://www.coconino.az.gov.

The Incident Management Team expresses their sincere thanks for donations which were received in support of our firefighters. However they request that future donations be made to charities like United Way, the American Red Cross, Coconino and Yavapai Search and Rescue, or other local charitable organizations. Firefighters working the Slide Fire are well supplied and need no further clothing and food items. Individuals wanting to donate their time should contact the Northern Airzona United Way at (928) 773-9813 or nazunitedway.org.

Coconino County is reminding people to register their cellphone number with the County’sCodeRED emergency notification system at www.coconino.az.gov/emergency. Only those residents whose numbers are registered will receive a direct phone call about any type of pre- or mandatory evacuation order.

For information on air quality, please visit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality website at http://wildlandfire.az.gov


Filed under Eco Issues

#SlideFire Burns 7,500 Acres, Is 5 Percent Contained

Sarah Dolliver‎

Sarah Dolliver‎

The Slide Fire continues to grow but, according to reports, is 5 percent contained. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or structures lost. There are some 900 firefighters and personnel working hard to contain the fire, so let’s keep them in our thoughts as they continue to fight this awful fire. Right now, it looks like increased moisture and the possibility of rain tomorrow may help give firefighters an edge; unfortunately, lightning strikes could cause other fires or pose a danger to crews. 

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Filed under Et Cetera, News

#SlideFire Still at Zero Containment; Woods Canyon Lake Fire 40 Percent Contained

Photo by Wib Middleton

Photo by Wib Middleton

We’re seeing reports that the Slide Fire is still at zero containment, though there are more than 800 firefighters and personnel working to contain the blaze, which has already consumed West Fork.

Below is the latest from the Incident Information System:

Crews are continuing to hold the fire west of Highway 89A and south of Fry Canyon. Burnout operations have been conducted south of FSR 535 to create a larger fire break north east of the fire. Hotshot crews are also working to create fire line across the Pump House Wash near the 89A ‘switchbacks’ to control the east flank and prevent further spread east. Winds have become lighter today, with temperatures in the low 70s. As the day continues to warm, firefighters expect increased fire behavior, with the most active portion of the fire toward the northwest to Harding Point.

Heavy smoke is likely again in the greater Flagstaff area, Williams as well as Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. Residents and motorists are asked to use caution as visibility may be limited at times.

In other fire news, the Woods Canyon Lake Fire, which was first reported yesterday, has burned 88 acres and is 40 percent contained. According to the U.S. Forest Service, crews are battling spot fires on the north side, while bulldozers and hand lines have been created on the east and west sides of the fire. At this time, no injuries have been reported, and no structures or power lines are threatened. This fire was human-caused.


Filed under Eco Issues, News