Rim Country boasts some of the most diverse and healthy riparian areas in the state. That includes miles of gloriously intact cottonwood and willow habitat along the banks of the East Verde River, just outside of Payson.
If you want to hook a wary, wild German brown trout, head for Haigler Creek, off Colcord Road. But hurry: In another couple of years, the creek may harbor an even rarer treat for anglers — a reintroduced population of endangered, native Gila trout.
The Mogollon Rim puts the world back in proper perspective, with the wind rushing past and the view extending for 100 miles. The wind whispers of vanished worlds and sudden death — as well as the stubborn persistence of life.
I tore myself loose late, knowing I’d never make it to Whispering Pines where I’d promised faithfully to meet Jack Kearns, a genial, quietly enthusiastic, endlessly good-humored retired utility company crew chief who now lives to fish.
Teachers on trips still must submit the itemized details
Teachers taking students on education trips shouldn’t have to pay for hotel rooms out of their own pocket. On the other hand, they better bring back an itemized receipt if they want breakfast.
Lawmakers seeking to reverse the expansion of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System suffered another setback in court this week.
Growth in upper grades suggests students returning
The Payson Unified School District got more good news this week as this semester’s enrollment figures grew.
Daughter of former Payson couple shot in 1978
For 37 years, the murder of their daughter remained an agonizing mystery.
Archaeologists clear way for university site
The Forest Service can go ahead and sell a 253-acre parcel for a university, but Payson should avoid building on three archaeological sites, concluded a preliminary study.
But lawmakers propose plan to boost K-12 spending
School districts will go back to court in an attempt to force state lawmakers to pay some $1.3 billion in illegally withheld inflation funding after negotiations on a settlement broke down this week.
But vital forest thinning projects finally underway
Good Earth Power Arizona (GEPAZ) has finally started cutting and processing trees in its Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) contract, but remains bedeviled by breakdowns and skepticism.
Corporation commission approval spawns controversy
Although Arizona faces a federal mandate to cut the use of coal-fired power plants, homeowners will face sharply higher costs if they go solar — thanks to new fees on rooftop solar systems imposed by Arizona Public Service and the Salt River Project.
Payson avoids record heat
Rim Country continues to enjoy a more-or-less average year, with a mild fire season, normal rainfall and predictions of a wetter-than average winter.
Studies show forests have greater impact than scientists realized
Forests have a much greater impact on global climate than scientists realized, according to a series of recent studies.
Bald eagle population records record growth
Arizona’s unique population of desert-nesting bald eagles continues to delight and surprise researchers — steadily expanding their range and producing more and more gangly fledglings.
Banner builds up staff, slashes long ER waiting room delays
Emergency room waiting times have been cut in half in the past two weeks, according to Mike Herring, chief nursing officer for Banner Payson Medical Center.
Arizona officials oppose plan to cut pollution 34 percent
Opposition continues to build among Arizona elected officials to a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced by coal-fired power plants.
Rep. Thorpe decries toxic plume heading down Animas River toward Lake Powell
State lawmakers found a whole new reason to bash the Environmental Protection Agency with news that a botched mine cleanup effort released 3 million gallons of mine waste rushing down the Animas River in Colorado headed for Lake Powell.
Arizona lags U.S., Gila County lags state
Does it seem like the boom’s never going to return?
$322 million windfall revives debate about education cuts
Higher than expected tax collections have turned the state’s projected deficit into a $266 million ending balance.
Lawsuit, governor’s proposal may force big changes in AHCCCS
Arizona’s tenacious battle to limit or modify the federally-funded medical program for low-income residents continues, both in court and at the Legislature.
Leaders meet with Forest Service on rescues, plans to further limit access to protect creek
The U.S. Forest Service’s plan to close off Fossil Creek to most access by vehicles for at least an interim period has provoked debate and criticism — both from people seeking more access and from environmental groups challenging the years-long delay in adopting a plan to protect the spring-fed creek.
Payson Ranger District snags $1.9 million
The Payson Ranger District has snagged another $1.9 million for thinning projects to protect Rim Country communities.
Low catch rates on East Verde prompt complaints
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been experimenting with the number of fish stocked into the East Verde River and Tonto Creek every week, part of a statewide effort to keep anglers happy without wasting fish.
A mild spring and a wet monsoon have helped underscore the sea change in the U.S. Forest Service’s attitude toward forest fires across Arizona.
But campus boosts worker education
Arizona continues to lag further and further behind the rest of the country when it comes to producing an educated workforce, according to an analysis by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
Legal fight to protect endangered frog continues
A federal judge has dealt another setback to the Coconino National Forest’s effort to renew a grazing permit on the headwaters of Fossil Creek.
The Tonto Apache Tribe has donated $4,060 to the Payson FFA chapter, to help seven top agriculture students attend a national competition.
Bridge offers lesson in the power of time – and living things
Sitting in one of my favorite places in the world, I listen to the dim, cool drip of life — the maker of worlds, the merger of geology and biology.
Abandoned campfires continue to pose a hazard to forested communities, despite the unusually mild, wet year.
Telemedicine systems can reduce mortality rates and hospital stays, according to study
A telemedicine hookup with medical experts can reduce in-hospital mortality by 26 percent and the length of time spent in the hospital by 20 percent, according to a study published in CHEST, a peer-reviewed medical journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Construction crews continue to overhaul Payson’s water system
Construction crews continued work this week on the mammoth task of connecting the C.C. Cragin Reservoir (formerly Blue Ridge) pipeline to the town’s existing, complex water system.
Archaeological field work reportedly completed
El Niño promises wet monsoon, winter
The El Niño conditions in the Pacific didn’t save Rim Country from a dry spring — but it should yield a wet summer and snowy winter, according to the latest projections from the National Weather Service.
4FRI contractor opens a mill, returns to forest
The stalled Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) picked up steam in June with the opening of a new mill in Williams, the reopening of the forest to thinning projects, the addition of a second shift to a mill in Heber and plans for a new, high-tech, small log mill in Williams.
Building codes, Firewise can save lives, property
This item should come as no surprise to anyone.
The view off the meander of Forest Road 300 stretches for 100 miles and 100 years, following the wagon road General George Crook blazed in the wrenching war with the Apache Indians that defined American history and character.
I stand stalwart with my fly rod in the mighty East Verde, entertaining the hatchery trout to the best of my haphazard abilities.
The Mogollon Health Alliance and Banner Health on Friday completed their merger, with enormous implications for health care in Rim Country, the Payson university project and educational and health care charitable initiatives.
Arizona representatives blast decision
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the latest effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that thousands of Gila County residents won’t lose health care coverage.
Criticism swirls around painfully slow progress
Debate continues to swirl around the painfully slow progress in the largest forest restoration forest restoration effort in U.S. history.
Crews contain most blazes
Wildfires continue to burn throughout Arizona, but most pose little threat to structures, people or the forest.
Firefighters have blazes contained
Wildfires continue to burn throughout Arizona, but most don’t pose a threat to structures, people or the forest. The Forest Service is letting several of the larger fires burn to thin brush and actually boost forest health.
Their fate was sealed five miles overhead as the top of the roiling mushroom cloud of hot air began to disintegrate.
Mind the spotted owls. And the goshawks too.
Federal officials deploy 10,000 wildlands firefighters
Despite a mild fire season so far in Rim Country, federal officials say they expect a rough fire season throughout the West.
Gov. Doug Ducey last week proposed injecting an extra $300 million annually into the state’s spending on K-12 education by taking more money out of the state lands trust.
The U.S. Forest Service wants to cut off almost all access to Fossil Creek by car to protect the unique, spring-fed stream from the impact of some 100,000 visitors a year.
Now, here’s how weird things are this year. When lightning started a fire north of Strawberry this week — the Forest Service decided to let it burn.