The Payson-Pine area and the other small communities of northern Gila County are unique in that they are totally surrounded by the Tonto National Forest. The ponderosa pine forest and its numerous streams are a magnet to Valley residents who make a beeline to the high country trying to escape the desert heat. With the thousands of visitors, there is an obvious economic boost and we welcome them to our back yard, the Tonto National Forest.
The heavy use areas tend to be where there is water and of course shade trees, the East Verde River fits the description perfectly. Now that the pumps are working, this mountain stream is attracting even more weekend visitors to the popular fishing and swimming holes.
This is intensifying a long-standing problem with litter discarded along the roads as well as on the banks of this pristine stream. Where there is easy access by road, the Arizona Game and Fish Department also stocks these favorite spots for anglers who want to be successful in catching mountain trout. With the numerous crossings of the East Verde River in the subdivisions such as East Verde Estates, Flowing Springs, Beaver Valley, Washington Park and Whispering Pines, there are hundreds of private property homeowners who are experiencing a growing litter problem along the water’s edge and in the parking areas close to the stream.
I may sound a bit repetitive, but we all must take personal responsibility for keeping our streams and national forest clean. “Pack It In and Pack It Out” should be the motto of every angler who uses any of the streams or lakes in northern Arizona. A litter bag should be as important as your favorite fishing rod on the next outing to your favorite fishing hole. Chances are good that you will find aluminum cans, bait jars, candy wrappers and more left by an irresponsible littering visitors to the Tonto National Forest. Remember, the goal is to leave the area a cleaner place because you were there.