Living in these beautiful red rocks makes me want to keep it exactly the same as it is so that I can continue to enjoy our surrounding National Forest year after year. However, I am only one person and cannot sustain our public lands by myself. Fortunately, I have found myself among “Friends” who are just as engaged in sustaining the magic as I am.

I have come to recognize that “friends” come in many forms and in many partnerships. I and many other friends volunteer for a variety of organizations while actively engaged in Sedona Friends of the Forest activities. We are stronger and more effective when we are supporting and collaborating in this manner. Stewardship of public lands is rich and wide open territory for partnerships. The connectivity in the missions of several Verde Valley organizations is a clear opportunity for getting everyone involved in sustainability.

The Friends of the Forest seeks members who are dedicated to “maintaining, protecting, and restoring the scenic beauty and resources of our National Forest lands in the Sedona area for the enjoyment and use of present and future generations.” The Friends work in partnership with the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest by providing people resources for a wide range of tasks. The nonprofit organization is not engaged in fundraising, however.

Enter another Forest Service partnership – the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. The fund’s mission is to “gather donations toward the maintenance and enhancement of non-motorized National Forest trails in, and around Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek.” Its fundraising supports the expensive and important trail maintenance and development projects, raising more than $1.5 million since 2014.

Keep Sedona Beautiful is similarly aligned in stewardship and sustainability, committed “to protect and sustain the scenic beauty and natural environment of Sedona and the Verde Valley.” The organization is so much more than litter-lifters. KSB’s engagement in local governmental, business and policy issues brings another dimension to the sustainability efforts of volunteer organizations.

Another player in this arena is the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition. Its mission is “to improve the bicycling environment, facilities, quality of life in the region and encouraging bicycle use as an energy-efficient, economical and nonpolluting healthful and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation.” Members of this coalition routinely join Friends of the Forest and Forest Service trail construction and maintenance crews, among other community activities.

Along with these – and other – local nonprofit organizations, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce is also focused on sustainability of our natural surroundings. The Chamber’s Community Promise is “to be a good steward of Sedona and to sustain a reasonable balance between quality of life and economic interests.”

The Chamber offers the Sedona Cares Pledge, which is a unifying code of conduct embodying the values held by these organizations, their volunteers, and donors. We benefit from remembering and sharing this pledge: “The rocks are red, and the silence is golden. I vow to respect the natural quiet of Sedona’s open spaces and neighborhoods. I will be mindful of Sedona’s arid environment by minimizing my water and energy use and I will be extremely careful with fire. I’ll make my own memories, but not my own trails. I won’t risk life or limb (human or sapling) for more likes. I won’t get killed for a killer photo. When playing outside, I’ll be ready for rapid changes in weather and random episodes of magic. Leave No Trace and pack out trash — that includes TP and pup poo! I will discover art in Sedona’s galleries rather than making my own. Carving on trees or rocks, stacking stones, or defacing the environment diminishes nature’s art. If I can’t find a parking spot, I will not invent my own. I will go with the traffic flow, using my turn signal often and my car horn seldom. I’ll be caring and considerate wherever I go because that’s the Sedona way.”

When our passions and pursuits have common ground, it benefits us all to support each other and pull together. Thank you to all who are volunteering or financially supporting the variety of local organizations which share a vision for sustaining our extraordinary natural surroundings.

Serving Sedona, written this week by Annie Glickstein, President of Friends of the Forest, appeared in the Sedona Red Rock News.