The Town Too Tough To Dry

May 26, 2012

Tombstone, Arizona, is once again, in a fight to survive.

The Monument fire, last June, destroyed much more than just the wilderness area, known as Miller Canyon.

Even with Miller Canyon, and the Monument Fire, miles away from Tombstone, Tombstone is still in the line of fire. Back in the 1880’s, pipes were hauled up the canyon, and water collected from natural springs, and brought down the canyon to the town below and miles away. The problem, now, is the fire damaged the natural vegetation in the area, and then was hit with the monsoons a month later, and all was flooded in and around the pipeline, which fell large boulders which rolled downhill and destroyed the aged pipeline.

Under all circumstances, there should be no problem replacing the aged pipe, and restoring the water supply to Tombstone, but not in this day and age.

The problem is, because of the Mexican Spotted Owl, that area is now a protected wilderness, and no heavy equipment is allowed to be used! The request to the Forest Service to allow the repairs have been denied, stating, “All repairs can be made, but only with horses and shovels”! I love birds, but the fire destroyed their habitat, and the Spotted Owl’s natural habitat is gone! There is no need to put horses in danger, as well as the humans, trying to get back up to the springs, and repair/replace pipeline, protecting an owl that is no longer there.

Because the fire was not immediately, endangering the lives, or buildings, of the old west town, the Forest Service claims, Tombstone is only USING the Monument Fire as an excuse to upgrade it’s water supply equipment. They believe, that as long as the inhabitants of Tombstone, have well water to survive, they are no longer in need of the water from the natural springs. What they are not understanding is, well water will run out in a matter of hours if the town was trying to fight a fire in one of their old wooden structures! One wooden structure sitting right next to another wooden structure, next to another, usually means, total destruction of a Historical Landmark!

The area is protected by the U.S. Forest Service, and even though the water has been piped in from the springs in Miller Canyon since before Arizona was a state, the Forest Service is not allowing the city of Tombstone to run heavy equipment up the hill to do any repairs. Tombstone, on the other hand, has original documents stating that “they own all 25 springs outright, and has the right to maintain five acres around each one, as well as 25 feet on either side of the pipeline”. The city says it doesn’t need anybody’s permission to work on its own property, but have been blocked by the forest service each time they had tried to haul up heavy equipment to do the repairs. Finally, after a feudal mediation, they were granted permission to use the heavy equipment only on the area they had started repairing before they were shut down. They have 25 springs to maintain, and have only worked on one.

Gov. Jan Brewer, declared the water supply to Tombstone an emergency and freed $50,000 in emergency funds. During the fire, mail was diverted from Hereford, Arizona to Sierra Vista! The fire was disastrous on so many local levels, but to deny water to an established town, because it was damaged miles from their town, is another attempt of government overstepping it’s boundaries.

The water supply is owned by the town, and the federal government is willing to dehydrate a human race for the preservation of a spotted owl who moved on during and after the wild fire! Okay, so the human race has well water to hydrate themselves with, but if a fire broke out in town, their drinking water will be depleted in a few hours. Yes, the Town Too Tough To Die, will die!! It will become just another spot on a road map, marked with a little dot and perhaps a little bio of it’s long history before the Federal Government grew too big!

The forest service says they can repair the pipes, ONLY with non mechanical equipment. They were so uptight, that they wouldn’t, at first, allow a wheelbarrow to be used, because it had a wheel! If that isn’t backwards thinking, than how in the world are any of us going to survive this administration and their thought process?

In the meantime, Tombstone Mayor Jack Henderson says they have received about 500 donated shovels so far and hopes 1,000 volunteers or more will show up to fix the pipeline. Tombstone is planning a June event that promises to propel the controversy into the national conversation: The Tombstone Shovel Brigade will be part protest, part work party. This event is scheduled for June 8 and 9 since U.S. District Judge Frank Zapata turned down their request for an emergency injunction.

If you would like to volunteer, send a shovel, or a small $5.00 donation, here is a link, that will provide all the information to get the town’s water supply flowing once again!

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