Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Senator suggests state takeover of forests

The state should take over the national forests and dramatically accelerate logging to thin forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires, said state Sen. Sylvia Allen and a group of people affected by the massive Wallow Fire during a recent press conference and hearing at the state capitol. The group posed in front of a flatbed truck with a huge tree charred in the summer fire that consumed 730 square miles in the White Mountains. She called for the state to take over the forests if the Forest Service doesn’t act immediately to undertake thinning on a massive scale. “All of our people up on our mountain are from all political persuasions, and I would say confidently that 95 percent of them are behind what we are trying to do. They want to save our forests,” said Allen, a Snowflake Republican and Senate President Pro Tem whose district includes all of Rim Country. “If the Forest Service will not act now,” said Allen, “then the state of Arizona needs to step up on this emergency and take over management of our forest lands.”. “If they don’t get to those places where the trees have been killed, they are going to start falling over and it’s going to become a fire hazard again,” said Whitney Wiltbank, whose family has owned the Sprucedale Guest Ranch for 70 years. He spoke at a Nov. 17 press conference that preceded a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on forest management issues...more

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