One of my favorite hikes in the Mogollon Rim country is the trail west of Strawberry that goes down to Fossil Creek. It is steep going down and the return trip is arduous, but worth the six miles of effort because of the beauty that awaits me there. Fossil Creek is a rare travertine stream with mineral-laden water that coats rock and plant debris, forming dams behind which are clear, habitat-enhancing stairstep pools.
A quarter of a mile after reaching Fossil Springs the creek dries up and the delightful cool, moist habitat ends for the next 14 miles. It ends the unique recreational experience of a riparian area in arid Arizona. It ends the life-giving water available for wildlife along the 14 miles of mostly dry creekbed. For a quarter-mile downstream of Fossil Springs in a bygone era a dam was built by Arizona Public Service Co. to divert the water into a metal flume for the Childs-Irving power plant.
Arizona Public Service Co. now has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show its concern for the environment. It can choose not to reapply for relicensing the Childs-Irving power plant, which only produces one-tenth of one percent of APS power generated in Arizona. It can choose to set a corporate example of respect for a special place in Arizona's arid environment.
The Childs-Irving power plant could be preserved as a historical but non-working site. It could even become a nature learning center where adults and children alike could learn to understand and appreciate what a wonderful place we live in. This would be the right thing to do for generations of Arizonans to come and for the already hard-pressed wildlife in our state.
If you feel that Fossil Creek should be returned to its full stream flow, please write to Mr. Bill Post, President and Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Public Service Co., P.O. Box 53999, Phoenix, AZ 85072-3999 or fax him at 602-250-3002.