Fallout from Yarnell tragedy
Staggered by the mounting costs of the Yarnell Hill Fire and dire fire predictions for 2014, the State Division of Forestry hopes the Legislature will double its firefighting budget this year.
Coatimundi killed near Payson indicates strange creature has extended its range again
A strange escapee from the teeming tropics had made it to Rim Country.
Roosevelt Lake bass, crappie, bluegill continue to decline
The sharp decline in Roosevelt Lake’s once stellar reputation as a bass fishery continues to bedevil local businesses and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Gila County falls to 8.4%; mirrors state
The year ended on a strong note with a sharp drop in unemployment in Gila County.
Ignored child abuse cases included in reports to governor, Legislature
Gov. Jan Brewer has declined calls for a special session of the Legislature to deal with the crisis triggered by the revelation that Child Protective Services classified as “not investigated” more than 6,400 reports of child abuse and neglect.
A federal court judge has once again extended the legal battle over whether to restore endangered species protection to Arizona bald eagles.
My father and I stood clutching binoculars beneath the winter-naked trees at the edge of our lives at the edge of a habitat, blood strangers groping for a connection. The wind rustled through the spiny oak leaves of Madera Canyon as we read the sign explaining that life is most diverse at the edge between two habitats — oak and grass, wood and meadow, scrub and grassland.
1,000 acres close to Christopher Creek in first phase of landmark restoration
Good Earth Power has started a nearly 1,000-acre thinning project in Rim Country, one of the first projects in the eagerly awaited Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).
Research shows forest thinning boosts growth of remaining trees
Here’s a puzzle: Cut down half the ponderosa pines on an acre of land and you end up with just as much wood as when you started — eventually.
New statement revokes threat to tow away hunter’s trailers left in the forest
The Coconino National Forest has apparently backed away from a threat to ticket and tow hunters’ trailers left in the forest for more than 72 hours.
The Greasy Pole
Had one of those days when the news actually mattered.
The Payson Unified School District faces wrenching changes — and deep questions about how to accommodate both state and federal mandates.
For the annual “Spirit of Christmas,” the churches gave to us — 12 shepherds flocking ...
The 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire this summer were “unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed to the deadly hazards of wildland firefighting” due to poor communications and the lack of an effective strategy the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health has concluded after a comprehensive investigation.
The value of thinning forests adds up to as much as $5,000 per acre if you take into account the benefits of preventing devastating wildfires, reducing carbon emissions that spur global warming and other non-market values, concluded a team of Northern Arizona University researchers.
Father gets 20 years in death of daughter after years of missed chances
Gasoa Balas will likely spend the next 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder, aggravated assault and driving under the influence Tuesday.
Report: Just 15 percent of Payson High graduates finish at a university in six years
Only 15 percent of Payson High School graduates earn a college degree within six years compared to 18.6 percent of students statewide.
As controversy builds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a hearing on changing the rules for the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves at a hearing at the Hon-Dah Conference Center in Pinetop this afternoon and evening.
Payson’s sales tax revenues on the rise, but construction continues to struggle
Hopeful numbers keep trickling in, as Rim Country struggles to regain the economic ground it lost in the real estate crash of 2007 and 2008.
State task force to review 6,100 cases not investigated by Child Protective Services
Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday announced plans to create a team to oversee investigation of some 6,100 reports of child abuse or neglect that Child Protective Services set aside without investigating.
Glow-in-the-dark rocks, disappearing photons, lurking activators, stealthy scorpions, all at the rock show
Way, way, way in the back of the Payson Rimstones Rock Club’s Gem and Mineral Show in a side room in a black box with a weird light waited The Secret of the Universe.
Payson talk laments shortfall lawmakers are ignoring
Arizona faces a potentially disastrous water shortage — but no one’s paying attention.
The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement Board at its last meeting approved the award of a nearly $70,000 contract to CH2M Hill, a water engineering and consulting firm that already operates the water district under contract.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to establish thousands of threatened Gila trout in a three-mile stretch of Haigler Creek, residents learned at a recent meeting.
Decision represents one of the final board actions after surprise resignations
The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District last week approved installation of sensors and a bypass valve to prevent two crucial wells from ever pumping murky, gritty water into the system.
The little girl eyed the goose warily.
Mounting flows in Tonto Creek prompted Gila County to close all three crossings in Tonto Basin Saturday morning, effectively cutting off access to people living on the east side.
Sheriffs refuse to cooperate in federal effort to prevent hunters from leaving camps set up
The Gila County Sheriff’s office has joined with other local officials to protest a new U.S. Forest Service threat to impound and tow away trailers left in the forest for more than 72 hours, according to Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin.
Everyone has more time to sound off on plans to dramatically expand the area where endangered Mexican gray wolves can roam.
A bacteria-infected well has been disinfected, tested, re-tested and stands nearly ready to go back online, Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District Manager Brad Cole told the district’s board last week.
Five members of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District abruptly resigned on Saturday, turning over management of the controversy-plagued district to the Gila County Board of Supervisors.
Investigations of Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Board members continue to agitate customers — and roil relations on the board.
Arizona population increases, but protection debate persists
As volunteers and biologists labor to safeguard Arizona’s population of bald eagles, the legal battles about their future continue.
The inexorable rise of average temperatures will batter forests in the Southwest by increasing the number of megafires and plagues like bark beetle outbreaks, according to the alarming results of recent studies.
Work crews intermittently blocked Tyler Parkway this week with the latest work to prepare for the arrival of water from the Blue Ridge pipeline.
Forests At Risk
The mystery land manager tapped to manage one of the largest, most complex logging operations in history turns out to be mostly a land broker that bundles timber sales.
Report avoids assigning blame for death of 19 Prescott firefighters
The curiously unrevealing official report on the deaths of 19 Prescott Hotshots battling the Yarnell Hill Fire underscores the terrible risks firefighters inevitably run trying to protect poorly prepared communities in increasingly fire-prone forests.
Payson, Gila County ignore danger in building codes despite lessons of Yarnell
Payson and Gila County have both balked at adopting firewise building standards, despite the rising danger of catastrophic wildfires like the one that devoured much of Yarnell and killed 19 firefighters trying to protect the community.
Payson sales rise sharply, but construction still lags
verything’s looking up, businesswise. Well, except for construction. Alas, poor construction.
As Alliance compares sites, FS land sale inches along
The Rim Country Educational Alliance (SLE) continues to push the purchase of 260 acres from the U.S. Forest Service for a university campus — but also is doing a comparative analysis of other privately owned parcels.
Radiothon seeks to raise $10,000 to help children, domestic violence victims
Considering the fearful toll of the problem at hand — the folks who dropped by last week’s Radiothon at Chapman Auto Center had a pretty good time.
The coalition of power companies operating the Navajo Generating Station near Page have proposed an alternative way to reduce pollutants that will allow the plant to keep generating electricity until 2044.
Federal shutdown extended to privately run campgrounds
The federal shutdown this week spread to virtually all of the campgrounds in Rim Country at the worst possible time of the year. Talks between the White House and Congress Thursday revived hopes that the shutdown will end soon. Senate Republicans were expected to meet with the White House today. The issue now involves both the government shutdown and a deal to raise the limit on the debt.
Payson state lawmaker makes headlines with comments about ‘thugs’ and ‘tyranny’
Payson state Rep. Brenda Barton made national headlines this week when a post on her Facebook page referred to President Barack Obama as “De Fuhrer” and to National Park Service rangers as “thugs.”
College backers had deal on appraisal when Forest Service furloughs struck. At a crucial moment, the federal government shutdown has stalled Payson’s effort to buy 240 acres of Forest Service land for an Arizona State University campus.
Skeptics argue corporate jet pilots will avoid the pump
Even the darn airport’s going self-service. Money. Money. Money.
Payson General Plan overhaul would allow far more homes per acre in rural area
Payson Councilor Ed Blair lodged a vigorous but futile protest to a little-noticed change in the town’s General Plan that could potentially allow far more homes in rural, large-lot areas.
Fossil Creek has become a world-class refuge for wildlife — a veritable Noah’s ark for rare and endangered species both above and below the turquoise-blue waters of the travertine-laden creek.
She didn’t fall: Nope, she climbed off the fame’s rocket, to raise a family.
Rim Country’s representative co-author of a bill that would waive environmental laws to double or triple timber harvest
The Forest Service would have at least double timber harvesting and give local counties and schools 25 percent of the money it earns under the terms of a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week.