I recently participated in an unusual, and beneficial, study group "Fire in the Sky: A Perspective on the Willow Fire." The study was sponsored by, and underwritten by, the Arizona Foundation for Resource Education (AFRE), and presented by Gil Alvidrez and Marg Graf, assisted by Gary Roberts from the Payson Ranger District.
AFRE is financially supported by the Arizona Mining Industry, Salt River Project, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, and others. For at least the last 10 years, AFRE has been running educational programs, mostly for K-12 teachers, on the importance of natural resources to Arizona, and the world's economy and quality of life.
With the exception of myself, all the other 30-plus participants in today's program were teachers, or students intending to be teachers.
The participants received a broad-gauged exposure to the causes and results of major Southwest forest fires. Also, some thoughts to the possibility of changes that might minimize the frequency and severity of such fires.
I was particularly impressed with the even-handed objectivity of the discussion. There were no villains, and no sure-fire solutions. There was objective discussion of wrong roads taken in the past, and valid reasons put forth to explain why those programs were adopted. The one unanimous agreement, for the future, was that we somehow had to thin our over-grown forests back toward the density of 150 years ago. This is imperative for reasons of both fire safety and water preservation. In the time available, there was no attempt made to consider how this might be accomplished.
I would recommend that anyone who has any serious interest in helping to solve our forest or other natural resource problems and/or opportunities start with one or more AFRE courses. AFRE is certainly to be commended for making such an outstanding educational opportunity available to the people of Arizona. Their address: 141 E. Palm Lane, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Phone: (602) 266-4417
Dan Adams, Payson