While reading the latest news on the Fossil Creek Road closure in the Payson Roundup, I couldn’t help but appreciate the uncharacteristic speed with which the Forest Service acted in getting this closure accomplished.
I have just learned that Resolution Copper has cut its budget on the underground copper mine project in Superior from $200 million in 2012 to $50 million in 2013 due to problems with the Forest Service’s usual foot dragging and mountains of paper requirements.
In a newsletter sent out by the project manager, I learned that Resolution Copper started this project in 2005 and has achieved such a lack of satisfaction from the Forest Service that the project has been scaled back significantly. Resolution has tried to do a land swap giving our Forest Service 5,300 acres of conservation land for 2,300 acres for the underground copper mine site in Superior; seems like a good deal. This project would have created 3,700 jobs and brought $20 billion in tax revenue to Arizona. Now the future of this project is uncertain ... kinda like bringing ASU to Payson.
As I recall, the land swap for the Chaparral Pines and The Rim Club subdivisions in 1996 went pretty smoothly. I was selling Cat tractors to the developer at the time and I don’t recall any environmental impact studies holding up construction; unlike the seemingly endless delays imposed on the Blue Ridge pipeline and the proposed ASU campus site.
It’s also hard to ignore what is going on with the Forest Service’s effort to close the mobile home resort down at Roosevelt. This bureaucracy will make a decision in three years according to the account in the Roundup. Why so long? Why even bother those folks?
Although I’m not in the ranching business, I have personal knowledge of three pioneer cattle ranching families in Gila County — the Ewings and Connolly brothers in Tonto Basin, and the DalMolins in Globe — who have quit the cattle business due to overzealous, even frivolous, Forest Service regulations in the last decade. I’m sure there are several other ranchers of which I am unaware who have been forced to sell ... not to mention what must be happening to these families across the entire state of Arizona.
And please don’t minimize what the Forest Service has done to the logging industry in northern Arizona. In the 1960s the sawmills kept this part of Arizona prosperous. It’s no secret that the misguided regulations imposed on the cattle ranchers and loggers in the name of the spotted owl, various frogs and lizards, etc., has resulted in more than a few huge forest fires in the last 20 or so years.
Historically, Arizona is known for the five Cs as mainstays of our economy: Copper, Climate, Cattle, Cotton and Citrus.
The first three have been adversely affected by the Forest Service for years. How about climate you ask? “Controlled” burns keep our once clean air so smoky at times that we must go to Phoenix to breathe.
I apologize in advance to my several friends who work for the Forest Service. They are smart and they do care, but whoever is running this show is not looking out for our best interests here in Arizona. They seem to be more bent on showing us who’s boss.