Rural Rally Scheduled For State Capitol

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Rim country residents are urged to attend a rally for rural Arizona at the state capitol in Phoenix from 9 a.m. to noon Monday.

"It's a rally to bring attention to the forest situation and the importance of forest health, to try to get the attention of some of the politicians in Washington and even here locally," Scott Flake, director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation, said.

The event, officially titled "Act Now! Rally For Rural Arizona" is being held to call attention to the plight of smaller communities regarding the threats posed by the bark beetle, wildland fire and other drought-related problems.

Jim Paxon, the former Forest Service information officer who became a household name during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, heads a list of speakers at the rally.

"We're way behind the power curve," Paxon said. "For 80 years, we put out fires and we got real good at it. But while we did that the fuels continued to build and right now there's a huge backlog and a bunch of fuels ready to burn.

Paxon mentioned the under-funded Regional Payson Area Project as an example of what needs to be done. A wildland-urban interface fire mitigation plan, it incorporates vegetation management, density reduction, prescribed burning, selective revegetation and fuel hazard mapping.

Others scheduled to appear at the rally include Congressman Jeff Flake and Speaker of the Arizona House Jake Flake. Lewis Tenney will be master of ceremonies, and music will be provided by Tawna Flake and Band.

Freedom for America League is sponsoring the event.

For more information, call Sylvia Allen at (928) 535-3301, LeAnn Arganbright at (928) 536-5746 or Jeannie Upole at (928) 535-5503.

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