County Hires Lobbyists For Forest Fund Fight

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Gila County's campaigns for federal funds for forest health and a bridge over Tonto Creek in Tonto Basin have been kicked up a notch.

At the June 27 meeting of the Gila County Board of Supervisors, a contract with the lobbying firm of Jefferson Government Relations, LCC was approved.

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District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin

"It's a two year contract for $6,500 a month," said District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin.

Martin said she used the firm for her most recent efforts to have more money directed to the county for forest health issues.

"They have proven their value to me by helping me get through the pre-appropriations process," Martin said.

The firm is based in Washington, D.C. and specializes in appropriations. Martin said it has years of experience and a great track record.

The contract with JGR is only for work on the forest health issues and the Tonto Creek Bridge for now.

"Congressman Renzi has been instrumental in getting us closer to that bridge than we've ever been before," Martin said.

He has secured funds for both a feasibility study and design.

It is Martin's hope that JGR can help the county be in line for funds in 2009 to build the bridge.

"If we don't get the money to build the bridge, we have to pay back the $3 million Renzi got for the design," Martin said.

She said the county wants to have someone on site in Washington, D.C., to see to it, that at every opportunity, forest health issues and the Tonto Creek Bridge are part of the funding conversation.

"We have a very sympathetic Congressional delegation and they are wonderful, JGR will just assist in making sure our story is in everyone's face at every level," Martin said.

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