I hope that the residents of Payson have paid attention to what has happened in the Heber to Show Low area. I feel that it is not "if" but "when" we in Payson will be exposed to the same type of a disaster fire.
For the past 100 years, we have ignored Mother Nature and we have practiced prevention and containment of forest and wilderness fire. When we look at photos of the forest 100 years ago the most notable thing that we see is the lack of undergrowth amongst the trees.
Mother Nature allowed fires to burn and destroy much of the low ground growth and this led to a very healthy large tree growth. One must only walk in the old natural forest to notice the evidence of past fires in a healthy forest.
If the Forest Service is allowed to establish a defensive fire line all along the perimeter surrounding Payson, we can accomplish many things.
Make access to the area fast and complete so that backfires can be set if it is deemed a necessity. If an area which is able to be quickly turned into bare ground is available, there would be no necessity to delay a defensive fire burn.
This fire break will help to protect and to feed much of the natural wildlife since within a couple years of its establishment this former high overgrowth area will become covered with grasses and other small growth which will provide protective habitat for many of the nesting ground birds as well as forage for the grazing animals like elk , deer and javelina.
I am certain that most insurance companies will soon be looking at the fire risks in various locations and increase the fire insurance rates to those in the higher risk areas.
About the most important thing that perimeter defensive lines will accomplish would be to make a much less hazardous exposure to all of our firefighters. We need to do everything to help those who protect us.
I understand that a perimeter defensive fire study is being done by our retired fire chief. When this review is complete, I can only hope that all of the residents of Payson will please accept this evaluation so that we in Payson will not be exposed to a dangerous, uncontrollable fire like our neighboring towns are dealing with.
After we establish a defensive perimeter, I hope that all residents will evaluate their own homes for fire access for firefighters and help both themselves as well as their neighbors.
Edgar Connell, Payson