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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news April 29, 2016

6/27/2014 7:00:00 AM
Legislative trio visits Cottonwood
Bob Thorpe, Brenda Barton and Chester Crandell
Bob Thorpe, Brenda Barton and Chester Crandell

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

About a dozen local residents attended a legislative town hall Wednesday at Cottonwood's Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Most questions focused on water conservation and immigration issues in the state, like the recent influx of teen immigrants who have been staying on federal land.

Representative Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said forest issues are directly tied to water conservation. Logging could be the solution there, thinning out the large number of trees per acre to allow water to flow "down the hill."

He said a choice needs to be made to get back to the ecology of pre-settlement, when natural fires would come through and burn away excess saplings. A Williams cattle rancher cleared out 150 junipers from his property, and began to see surface water that hasn't been visible for 20 years.

"When you have so much density, the trees are in competition," he said.

Senator Chester Crandell, R-Heber, said finding a use for excess trees would also help tame the intensity of the wildfires Arizonans see every summer.

"The pendulum has swung way one way," he said. "What we have to do is bring it back."

As for immigration, Crandell, Thorpe and Representative Brenda Barton, R-Payson, said there isn't much the state can do to either police the border or send the children back to their respective countries south of the border.

Crandell said it's going to be expensive for the state to activate the national guard, and Barton said it's become a health and safety issue, as well as a humanitarian one. All agreed the impact will be seen in demands on the state's social and public services.

"This is a dilemma of great proportions," Barton said. "Immigration is on the federal side, and we don't seem to have any influence with the administration."

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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