I attended a work study meeting of the Gila County Supervisors July 15. This meeting can lead to more improvement in the economics of Gila County than any program proposed in the 20 years I have lived here.
The supervisors are undertaking studies that will lead to a complete economic analysis of what the natural resources of Gila County could provide in the way of jobs, income, taxes, etc. on a sustainable basis.
The endeavors to be studied are grazing, forestry, mining, game management, outfitting, etc. In all instances, use of best current practices will be assumed.
The objective is to put together a total package for our Washington representatives to show to their urban and private land peers, and to the Washington bureaucracy; to indicate that the Tonto Forest could return millions of dollars of revenue to the federal treasury each year, rather than costing millions of dollars, as it now does.
This would also permit much larger payment in lieu of tax revenues to the schools and communities surrounded by the forest.
The meeting was mostly devoted to grazing economics. Tommie Martin, of the Tonto Natural Resources Conservation District, outlined the revenue from one mother cow and her progeny. This will be extended by the possible number of mother cows that could be carried on the Tonto, with best grazing practices.
In concurrence with this, Larry Widner, chief ranger of the Globe Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, told of a new program to vary the head on each allotment, depending on forage available, as monitored by the permittee.
Separate study programs will be inaugurated for the economic potential of the mining and timber industries.
In all of these studies, it is important to remember who it is who owns the Tonto Forest. It isn't the people in Gila County, or the State of Arizona. It isn't the people who want to make a living in the forest. It is the citizens of the United States -- roughly 2 percent of whom live in Arizona.
To further clear the air, nobody elected nor appointed various environmental organizations to represent the citizens of the United States. They just assumed that role because the true representatives of the people, their congressmen and senators, abdicated their responsibilities because they didn't understand the problem.
Hopefully, with the facts from this study, our Arizona delegates can point out the economic advantages of proper management of the Tonto Forest, which represents less than 1 percent of the forested land managed by the U.S. government.
To be certain that this study is done completely and equitably, the supervisors are going to need all the assistance they can secure. Anyone who has any interest in this should call John Nelson and volunteer.
Dan Adams, Payson