In the 1960’s, the spectacular landscapes of the Verde Valley were marred by a blight of billboards, tasteless business signs and litter on the roads. Groups like the Sedona Garden Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the “Keep Sedona Beautiful Committee” worked to remove the most offensive billboards that marred scenic views, particularly on Highway 179 leading into Sedona. Their efforts were so successful that in 1966 Sedona was named one of the 10 cleanest small towns in the country.
Unfortunately, the situation then steadily worsened. Litter became an increasing problem and business signs were uncontrolled in unincorporated Sedona. The unsightly nature of the town was highlighted in a 1971 Arizona Republic article about “honky-tonk, cluttered Sedona.”
On April 6, 1971 a group of sixteen concerned citizens met at the home of Norman McGee, at the urging of his wife Eileen McGee and of Maleese Black. In that meeting, the Keep Sedona Beautiful Committee was revived. According to Norman McGee, “The primary aim of this group, which is composed of business people and interested citizens and which has been endorsed by several civic organizations, should be, as its name implies, an attempt to devise ways and means to help in keeping Sedona beautiful in the face of ever rapidly increasing growth.”
The Keep Sedona Beautiful Committee used the power of persuasion to convince a number of businesses to take down ‘high-rise’ business signs. Other businesses replaced gaudy storefront signs with more tasteful ones. The committee held its first litter lifting drive on December 11, 1971.
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