These letters appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic “Saturday Sound Off.” As I said in my ScottsdaleTrails article last week, aside from the current three operators in this newly-acquired corner of the Preserve, the other promoters of jeep tours (like Rick Kidder and now Sam Campana) have as their real goal bringing in their friends to compete. I think they’ll also push to expand operations to the rest of the Preserve.
Should jeep-tour businesses be allowed to operate in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve?
I believe that the existing jeep-tour businesses deserve consideration for the great sensitivity they display for the desert, and we as a community must keep in mind the value of those tours as an essential component of our tourism offerings. These operators have a vested interest in the beauty and the preservation of the wildlife and vegetation that make the desert areas special. Any other course of thought would be self-defeating.
When the ordinance was conceived, the intent was to remove the possibility of desert-destroying activities. No one can envision a preserve area with dirt bikes and ATVs. Let them follow the trails they have followed for many years.
— Rick Kidder, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce
The jeep-tour business will allow more Scottsdale residents and visitors to experience the desert within our preserve. I am not suggesting that we allow the tours to go into all parts of the preserve.
But, I believe the tours should be confined to a representative part of the preserve, which will give them a good feeling of why the desert is so unique.
The area should be clearly marked and tour people must understand the limitations that guide them. This will serve Scottsdale residents, who paid for the preserve, a way to attract both residents and visitors to its foremost and unique attraction.
— Bob Vairo, Scottsdale, president of the Coalition of Pinnacle Peak
A bright yellow Jeep was my first Arizona automobile. I now drive an old Cherokee plus a ’43 Willys for mountain roads. Our family loves to go “jeeping”!
But not on private or state trust land that was specifically acquired to be preserved. Let’s use this trial year for 4-wheeldrive operators to find other trails — and pay for their use and become stewards as the premier Sedona operator does. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy has free guided hikes, trailhead talks, ADA nature trails led by volunteer docents for all abilities. Beep Beep Jeeps. Hope to see you loaded with tourists in downtown Scottsdale!
— Sam Campana, Scottsdale, former mayor [the Republic failed to note Campana’s involvement with Pink Jeep Tours, referenced in her comment]
Jeep tours in natural preserve areas are not bad. Bad jeep tours are.
Ranthambore Preserve in India, Denali National Park in Alaska and Kruger Park in Africa are just a few of the world-renowned preserves where jeep tours are conducted.
They are governed by strict rules and threatened with huge fines if they stray or destroy the natural habitat.
Progress does not mean harm or deforestation. It means humans working with nature and respecting the environment. Progress also means revenue for a city that could use it. I say grant access, place restrictions, levy fines and make it work.
— Barry Kluger, Scottsdale, non-profit CEO