It's a mantra heard most every spring, when winter chill gives way to spring fever.
No, it's not "Play ball."
And this year, that mantra is being heard much earlier than before.
Columnist Mikey Marazza reports in today's Roundup about a fire that broke out in the forest near Christopher Creek. Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire, but not before it charred 1/3 of an acre.
The suspected cause: children playing with firecrackers.
The mountains of Arizona remain tinderbox dry. The "seven-year drought" is seemingly in it's 10th, 11th, 12th year. High winds such as those that have been blowing through the Rim country lately will only fuel the fire. And there's no end in sight.
"These severely dry conditions should raise everyone's awareness about being extremely careful with fire when out recreating in the Tonto National Forest," Forest Supervisor Karl Sidiritis said in a recent press release.
The Forest Service is so concerned about fire hazard that it has already suspended prescribed burns scheduled for the Rim country. One such burn north of town recently got away from the prescribed boundaries and destroyed two storage buildings.
It is imperative that every resident of the Rim country takes seriously the responsibility that comes with living in the forest and that is the topic of a timely Regional Payson Area Project seminar for area homeowners, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon, March 23 at the community room of Eastern Arizona College.
With the benefits of living among the ponderosa pines comes the inescapable duty of striving each day to protect them.
This seminar would seem the perfect place for each of us to begin that effort.