It is ironic that, after writing the article regarding shooting and the public safety issue, which letter was published in the Tuesday Payson Roundup, I was fortunate enough on Tuesday, April 24, to meet Tonto National Forest Supervisor Karl P. Siderits at the event held at Payson High School concerning off-road vehicles and the national forest.
I found Mr. Siderits to be genuinely concerned about forest uses and abuses, and also genuinely concerned about safety. Mr. Siderits stated that he is a gun owner and shooter who is familiar with safe shooting practices, and I believe him to be solution-oriented.
Mr. Siderits described to me situations from Apache Junction to Cave Creek, in the national forest area immediately adjacent to and surrounding the urban area, where irresponsible, unsafe shooters haul trash to the desert, shoot it to pieces, and then leave the offending remnants of everything from shot-up water-heaters to computer monitors abandoned in the desert.
He also described people shooting over earthen berms instead of into them, as well as a host of other unsafe practices by slobs with guns. He even told me about having visited these areas, and seeing these abuses in action, with staff members from Senator Jon Kyl's office, as well as other law enforcement personnel and NRA officials concerned with finding a solution.
While I am completely convinced that Mr. Siderits is doing his best to try to resolve the problems endemic in the areas of the forest adjacent to the urban area of the Valley, this question remains: If Forest Service personnel are aware of venues at which Valley vandals are shooting up the countryside and leaving garbage, why aren't the offenders being apprehended and prosecuted especially when they are observed committing these crimes?
This situation is somewhat akin to an Arizona Public Safety officer's complaining that he sees dozens of drunken drivers on the road on a daily basis, yet he is not arresting the offending law-breakers.
If there are laws on the books that proscribe littering and creating an unsafe condition, these laws should be enforced. It appears to me that enforcement of existing laws would go a long way toward alleviating the problems that Mr. Siderits described.