Illegal Sedona Tours On The Rise, Says U.S. Forest Service
There are 45 guided-tour companies in Sedona operating under permits from the Forest Service. But U.S. Forest Service officials say there has been a recent increase in unlicensed tour companies, including some that advertise on social media and websites. Nicole Branton with the Red Rock ranger district of the Coconino National Forest says these illegal tours can harm the environment.
“Because they aren’t operating under permit, they may be going off of trails, they may be on social trails, they may go to archaeological sites or caves or other sensitive environments that we would not normally permit.”
Branton says the Forest Service calculates the capacity of certain areas and allocates permits accordingly, so the additional tours are putting added stress on the environment.
She added it’s easy to verify whether a tour company is operating legally.
“Any company that has a permit from the Forest Service is required to describe that on any of their wrap cards that you may find at the chamber of commerce, on their internet pages, et cetera, it needs to say permitted by the Coconino National Forest or Forest Service.”
She says leading an illegal tour is a federal violation and penalties can include a verbal warning, a $500 ticket or other financial penalties.