The city of Tombstone (Ariz.), famous for gunfights and Old West lore, is in a battle for its life. Water pipes were damaged after human-caused wildfires in 2011. In testimony before the House Resources Committee on Friday, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said big boulders had rolled into springs that feed the water source. Flake said the pipes pre-date Arizona statehood.
Now Tombstone is asking for help.
The city needs shovels and cash for what has been a labor-intensive effort. Flake told the House committee that federal rules in some cases require horses and hand tools to be used. Those strict rules would apply to special natural areas. Those same rules prohibit common sense equipment that could get the job done faster.
Flake told the committee:
“According to Tombstone officials, the aqueduct has accounted for between 50 and 80 percent of the city’s water supply in recent years and is critical to the health, safety, and economy of Tombstone’s 1,500 residents. Both the city of Tombstone and the United States Forest Service have been hamstrung by the 1964 Wilderness Act in trying to repair this water source as a result of the wilderness designation for the area. “
Flake introduced a bill that would permit flexibility on federal lands when there is an emergency, such as the prospect of not having access to something necessary for survival—water. Flake’s bill, the Emergency Water Restoration Act (H.R. 5791) – was considered during the hearing.
The US Report asked in a recent column whether heavy equipment might be used by federal agencies when there is an emergency such as a wildfire. Such equipment is used on sensitive lands. An example can be found at a website for the Pleasant Valley Conservancy. That land is held by a not-for-profit group and private interests, but federal agencies helped conduct controlled burns. The property is very sensitive ecologically and it’s obvious some heavy equipment was used by federal workers in a controlled burn [photos are at the bottom of this Pleasant Valley Conservancy web page].
Arizona’s land is 80 percent publicly owned, technically by the taxpayers. That status presents a challenge to the state’s residents who are obviously in reality a lesser interest when it comes to priorities and rights to property.
Hopefully conservative bloggers will help get the word out about what Tombstone is dealing with. David is once again fighting Goliath.
If you’d like to help the city, let others know that shovels and cash are needed. Share this article with a friend.
Flake’s bill may face hurdles in the Democrat-dominated Senate because environmental extremists currently control policy coming out of Washington via influence on policy in the Democrat party and the White House.
At present there is no mention of the Tombstone issue on the home page of the U.S. Forest Service. On that page, the Forest Service featured top stories related to oil and gas leases in Alabama and an ad campaign “to motivate Hispanic families to get outside more often and reconnect with nature.”
City of Tombstone (Official Website)
Video of Rep. Flake testifying before House Resources Committee:
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/June 11, 2012)