Another Forest Hearing, Let’S Hope The Roadblocks Come To An End Soon

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There was another hearing recently trying to get the 4 Forest Restoration Initiative plan moved off dead center. The idea is to let the timber industry thin forest trees, create jobs in the high country and help reduce the threat of wildfires.

The same plea has been made for what seems like an eternity. The environmentalists, who helped create the problem by bringing the timber industry to its knees years ago, is on board with the new plan. State and federal politicians are on board, town councils have signed on and the timber industry is eyeing resurgence. As usual, Forest Service officials are still dragging their feet.

The latest hearing conducted by our state legislators Rep. Chester Crandell and Rep. Brenda Barton, both of District 5, are pushing for the 4-FRI plan.

There was plenty of support for the plan at this latest hearing, lots of folks saying everyone has come together on this issue and the traditional enemies like the Sierra Club and timber companies all agree that forest thinning is a good thing now. The idea is to start with some 300,000 acres and see if it will work. Now 300,000 acres sounds like a bunch, but in the reality of the forests involved, Tonto, Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves, it is a drop in the bucket. But it would be a start.

All the supporters of this plan are hoping the Forest Service will put out a contract by the end of the year. That was the same hope at the beginning of the year. We hope that is not like saying “I will get around to it” when it comes to doing something you are not sure you want to do.

The Forest Service seems to drag its feet on everything that will actually help produce jobs and help everyday citizens enjoy and use the forest. Though they are quick to introduce new user fees for forest access that taxpayers are already paying for with their tax dollars.

They have placed roadblock after roadblock into projects that would help the Rim Country.

They are holding up the Blue Ridge pipeline, which is being partially paid for by a federal stimulus grant that promotes “shovel ready jobs.” The Forest Service idea of shovel ready is apparently not our definition.

Then there is the land that was designated for sale more than 10 years ago by Congress. Despite years of effort, the 300 acres is still just sitting there holding up the development of a four-year college in Payson.

It is time our congressional leaders come down hard on the Forest Service and tell them to get moving on these three projects. These projects would mean hundreds of new jobs in the Rim Country and help all those who live and work here.

So congressional leaders where are you, when will you get a federal agency to do what the people want done?

Fair offers old-fashioned fun, chance to meet neighbors

Ah, the horses, cows, lambs, the biggest and best vegetables grown in the Rim Country, artwork and so much more ... It will all be on display during this week’s Northern Gila County Fair.

The 57th version of the Rim Country’s fair may not be the largest fair in the land, but it is our fair and it is fun. If you have never been to a county fair, it might be time to take one in this week. It is the place where proud creators of art show off their work, where gardeners bring in their harvest to see who has the best and largest stuff. There are some traditional winners, but also some newcomers who are sure to dazzle the judges.

Friday and Saturday is the day for 4-H members to show off their livestock and horses. There are many youth who have taken great care to polish and groom their animals for the judges.

In addition to the displays of FFA and 4-H livestock projects, there are livestock and small animals submitted for judging by area residents in the open divisions; agriculture, horticulture and floriculture entries; home making arts; domestic science projects; canning; hobbies and handicrafts; minerals and lapidary; fine arts; photography; and additional entries from 4-H members.

It is quite a bit of fun to watch the 4-Hers maneuver a stubborn lamb or cow, which often out-weigh their owners, into a position for the judges to view. Adults too will have their projects in various open divisions for judges to award the blue, red and white ribbons.

If you want a bit more action, there is the barrel racing and pole bending on Wednesday, with more speed events for horses and their riders on Friday evening.

For those who want to see grownups crash and burn their cars and trucks, the Demolition Derby is Sunday. For a complete list of events, check out the front-page story in today’s paper.

Whatever your favorite display, there is something for everyone at this family friendly event where you can meet neighbors you didn’t know you had and see the best of the Rim Country’s bounty on display.

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