Forest Service Needs Saving From Itself

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The Forest Service wants help saving the forest.

And we’re kind of groping for a metaphor here.

So did you hear the one about the guy who killed his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court on account of being an orphan?

How about the one about getting Wall Street grifters to advise the federal government on how to dole out $700 billion to, well, Wall Street?

So now the Forest Service, with great sincerity and community spirit, wants to set up an advisory group to help update and transform the current, nearly meaningless, quarter-century-old forest plan.

It’s an urgent task — given the desperate and dangerous condition of the forest, almost entirely as a result of a century of Forest Service mismanagement.

Once upon a time, the Rim Country had rolling miles of ponderosa pines, grasslands and myriad streams. Harmless ground fires burnt through every five years and you could fish Pine Creek.

Then the Forest Service took over and started managing the forest as a great, money-losing tree farm. So now, instead of 50 trees per acre, we have 1,000. Instead of harmless ground fires, catastrophic wildfire threatens every Rim community. Instead of organics comprising 5 percent to 10 percent of the soil, they make up about half a percent. Instead of 1,000 miles of trout streams, we have dusty washes. Oh yeah — and the timber industry’s gone and the ranchers are going.

Thank you, boys.

Still, the day-long session involving top Tonto National Forest officials and a heartening cross section of Rim Country agencies, organizations and leaders looks like a great idea. The group must scale an Everest of talk and consultation — but the dedicated efforts of the participants could produce a dramatically improved plan.

Instead of endlessly pitting one group against another in court, the process might crawl, creep and stagger toward a plan that produces a healthy, sustainable forest. Such a forest could accommodate the carefully limited needs of loggers, ranchers, hikers, campers — and out-and-out forest lovers.

So we’re all for it. We just had a little fit of irony there.

After all, the surge did kind of work.

We couldn’t just let the credit markets convulse and die in a fit.

And that poor fellow probably really misses his mommy, now that he thinks about it.

What would Buddha do?

We were going to sit, Buddha-like, in perfect serenity and confidence. Then we talked to the county registrar. And we got all worried.

So what the heck — let’s just say it.

Please, please, please, please — go vote.

At least twice. That’s right. Twice.

We’re not talking up ballot here — we’re talking way down ballot.

Think global — vote local.

To be specific, if you haven’t done so already, march right over to that end table piled precariously with stuff you’ve been meaning to do, dig out your YMCA ballot from the bottom of the pack — and vote “yes” on Proposition 401. That’s the one that bars the town from leasing park land to the YMCA.

Now: This is important. Take it right down to Town Hall and turn it in.

The town clerk urges residents not to even try mailing their ballot on the YMCA election after Friday. That’s because any ballot that shows up after 7 p.m. Tuesday doesn’t count — no matter when it’s postmarked. However, Town Hall will remain open and in the ballot collecting business right up to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

But wait. You’re not done.

While you’re over there by that nasty end table dig out your sample ballot for the general election. Skip over all that Hoo Ha you’ve been reading for just about ever it seems — and make sure you’re gonna do the right thing on the Payson Unified School District budget override. Although it’s an absolutely vital measure for the future of the whole community, you have hardly heard a word about it. Don’t let that fool you: That’s one of the most important votes you’ll cast — but it could get lost in the shuffle, what with the trumpeting elephants and the braying donkeys.

VOTE YES, YES, YES — on the district budget override.

All right. We feel better.

Go back to whatever you were doing.

We be Buddha now.

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