Renzi Meets With Mayor, County Supervisor

Water, firebreaks at front of discussion

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During Congressman Rick Renzi's visit to Payson Friday morning, he discussed fuel breaks and other federal issues with forest supervisors and local leaders.

Renzi was informed that the U.S. Forest Service is working on a firebreak in the Pine and Strawberry area.

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County supervisor Tommie Martin, left, listens as Congressman Rick Renzi speaks Friday at Payson Town Hall.

From 2003 to 2005, the total area under contract in the Payson Ranger District was 2,626 acres for a total of $1.1 million.

Renzi was told the forest service was working on fuel breaks, but had a big area to oversee.

The Congressman wanted to know if any of the timber sales were profitable and was told small groups were wanting to harvest timber.

"We need industry to be there for you," Renzi said. "I believe in you guys down here. When you want those timber sales, push the envelope to see how you can make money."

He said the federal government will not solve the problem. Instead, the timber industry has to show a profit or at least break even.

The meeting, which included Payson Mayor Bob Edwards and Gila County District I Supervisor Tommie Martin, discussed cows and goats grazing in the forest and the firebreak.

Edwards said he would love to make the firebreak a recreational opportunity where visitors could get close to the goats.

Edwards also gave the Congressman an update on the water issue and told him of the assessment the town will be doing to determine how much water will be available.

"The key is to get through all of this environmental stuff," he said.

"Right now, we are living on borrowed water." The town wants to complete a study of the real cost of the Salt River Project water. All future water for the town will be expensive, the mayor said. "Direction is what we are looking for."

Renzi said it would be a full-blown authorized two-year congressional cycle to get Payson any funds on this.

Martin wanted to know how the people in the Rim Country could help Renzi.

Renzi said the lines of communication are the key and promised to return calls within 24 hours.

"I will call you directly regardless of the issue," he said.

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