Forest Service Not Looking Out For Arizona’S Interests

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Editor:

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.

Ted Paulk

Comments

Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Mr. Paulk, What you have put forth sheds some light on the evolution of the US Forest Service. If those in the Forest Service that you know are frank and truthful, you will probably find that they tend more toward "environmentalism" than they do towards the needs of the states residents. I got to meet several of those folks when getting technical training on Hazardous Materials Response and Mitigation when I was still plying my career in the Fire Service in California. I was taken a bit aback at the relationship and attitude of the Forest Service personnel as regards those attitudes toward "Joe citizen". Many came across as if the Forests and even the wildlife therein, were their personal property and let those that would encroach into their realm beware. Not sure what happened to the "Public servant" attitude, but it was noticably absent. I did a little more looking into the issue and talked to some of those who were recently or nearing retirement. Their view was that the US Forest Service was gradually being "taken over" by the environmentalists, especially in the top echelons of that organization since those folks tend more towards political types than field workers. Can this be factually substantiated? Probably not. But often one does not have to have a paper trail to provide strong evidence of socio/political bias. For a comparison I would offer a look at the Public Education system and our institutes of higher learning. Today, those in charge of those institutons are predominantly progressive/socialists and the products of their instruction tipify that ideology. Even polls taken of administrators, teachers and professors bear this out. So the US Forest Service is most likely experiencing a similar "transformation" from it's traditional roots and role, to that of an environmental agenda instilled in those learning environments that they recieved their degrees at. Time will tell, but I think you are witnessing that very thing through your observations.

Happy New Year!

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Ted Paulk 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow, Ron and I agree on somthing:) Semper Fi! I sent this in to the Roundup last week but went to Winslow Saturday and saw TWO Forest Service trucks "guarding" the Cinch Hook (formerly snow recreation area) site. I took my boys there every winter for years, until the FS closed it. Cannot understand why the FS is so adament about keeping the public out of there. They claim the Forest Service can be sued if someone is injured. Load of Bull! If that's the case why do they allow ANYONE to go anywhere with the national forests? I do believe they would close it all down if they could.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Mr. Paulk, I believe you and I agree on far more than that on which we disagree. As to Chinch Hook, I have talked to some folks who are familiar with that situation , primarily DPS officers. I don't believe the issue is with the Forest Service necessarily, but due to the traffic congestion and those who continually park in the designated "No Parking" zones. DPS simply don't have enough units to adequately patrol that problem and I think it was they that pressured USFS to close Cinch Hook. I may be getting bad info, but I have seen the chaos that goes on at that place while on my way to Flagstaff or Camp Verde. Also, it seems they placed some of those water bladders in the flat area to be used as water sources for firefighting. Not sure how those would affect sledding down the slopes however.

We have a couple of examples, Chinch Hook being one, where the Forest Service has been taking a beating. The other of course is Fossil Creek. The "environmentalists" wanted APS out with all their assorted infrastructure and have it turned back into the pristine place it once was decades ago. Well, they got that part done, but they are now "loving it to death". If you have been down in that area after the "restoration", it has literally been trashed by those supposed "environmental types" that frequent it. APS used to do a fair job of policing the area and maintaining the roads, but the Forest Service claims they simply do not have the folks to stay on top of all the abusers, so they strictly control access at the Camp Verde entrance. As with many things, the 10% of irresponsible folks ruin it for the rest.

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ALLAN SIMS 1 year, 3 months ago

I had the pleasure to live in Woodland Park, Colorado years ago, and enjoyed the Rampart Shooting Range, located off Rampart road in the NF. The NFS took it on themselves to close it after an accidental death there in 2009. Last I heard (Months ago) they were trying to get it open. I haven’t heard if they succeeded or not.

But, what you’ve described are incidents that are the normal result of government control. The government is sensitive to public complaint. (i.e. votes) They’ll error on the side of ‘safety’, even when that means their decisions aren’t very logical.

In the case of the ski area, one agency (State) supposedly complains to another (NFS) about being able to do their job in controlling. Answer? Take away the use of ‘public’ land. In the case of the shooting range I mentioned, it didn’t matter that they took the rights of many hundreds of people away, just because of a foolish accident. And, once it is done, it takes years of reviews, oversights, studies and bureaucratic hem-hawing to finally fail to decide anything.

One person’s (Or a few people’s) stupidity ruins the use of public land for all. Just as in Fossil Creek and the ski area. Just as the Rampart Shooting Range in Colorado. Our government is too deep in our everyday lives. This is one example of it. Why are we surprised?

BTW, I do have the highest regard for the rank and file NFS folks. They work hard, as evidenced by the numerous fires they fought. It is simply a shame that such people are dominated by the inept.

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Ted Paulk 1 year, 3 months ago

With all the fees imposed by the various bureaucracies to use our lakes and rec areas, some of the money could be used to clean up after the pigs who abuse these sites. As Allan points out, it is infuriating that agencies such as the National Forest Service arbitrarily close these areas because they are not loved by some members of the public. Using such logic we could see the closure of Tonto Creek, Canyon Creek, and the East Verde. I have picked up a lot of trash along these waterways and carried it our in my landing net, since I flyfish and catch and release, the net is mostly used to trash pick-up anyway. I would like to see stronger enforcement and HEAVY fines for littering, instead of locking the public out. And don't count on voting, I've been told by Forest Service employees that they don't answer to politicians; otherwise I would hope McCain, Kyl, et.al., would have rescued the Resolution copper project in Suprrior.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Right now with the job market being as depressed as it is, one might logically think that the USFS might lighten up on placing hurdles in front of those trying to get the permits for the Resolution copper project. Like was mentioned, the USFS is just one of many bureaucracies that have become so entrenched that they are little influenced by whichever administration is in power. Currently Ken Salazar is head of the Interior Dept,(which the USFS is a branch) and was appointed by President Obama, but those under him in the USFS have been there for longer than he ever will be. At such time as someone else gets appointed to that position, those who are in the policey positions of the USFS will still be the same folks.

Reading about the shooting range in Colorado is like Dejavu. Had a similar experience in Orange County, California. There was a shooting range in the Cleveland National Forest used by many. Eventually developers built right up to the Forest boundary and the residents of the new developments started complaining about all the traffic created by those going to/from that range. So, instead of putting up with the unwarranted complaints, the USFS simply closed the range without any input from the many who used that range. What happened after the closure was what one might expect. Since the shooting site was no longer allowed to be used, folks simply went throughout the forest to do their shooting as there were no restrictions within most of the forest. Instead of having the resultant effects of a range concentrated in one small area, you now have stuff throughout the forest left by irresponsible shooters. I suppose the USFS is a bit disappointed in the ultimate results of their decision to place the whines of a few over the interests of hundreds.

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David Butler 1 year, 3 months ago

Ted,

Thanks for your editorial. The Resolution Copper proposed mine near Superior is not up to the USFS to decide upon. The bill submitted by Paul Gosar (R-AZ) that would trade Oak Flat (where the copper is buried) for privately owned lands around Arizona is up to Congress to decide upon.

I've noticed there is quite a bit of misinformation out there about this issue. Did you know, for example, that President Eisenhower protected this beautiful area in 1955 to ward off future attempts at mining? Or that the mine would benefit overseas companies much more than local Arizonans?

My group has just released a short video about Resolution Copper and the Oak Flat area:

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