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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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9/19/2011 8:31:00 AM
Wildfire cure: bring back logging and cattle grazing?
Public will have a say in Cottonwood
Arizona Cattle Growers Association President Andy Groseta of Cottonwood: “The Endangered Species Act put the timber industry out of business ... The process is broken and we need a Congressional fix.”
Arizona Cattle Growers Association President Andy Groseta of Cottonwood: “The Endangered Species Act put the timber industry out of business ... The process is broken and we need a Congressional fix.”

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- National Forests would be less susceptible to wild fire with more cut trees and more grazing cattle.

Andy Groseta, president of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, promoted that thinking in asking the Cottonwood City Council for help to reduce the number of devastating wild fires in Arizona.

He says the Association has a plan: abandoned federal NEPA oversight of public lands for five years to allow logging and cattle grazing to return to National Forest Land. That, according to the proposal, will reduce the number of enormous wildfires, such as the half-million acre Wallow Fire this year or the half-million acre Rodeo-Chedeski fire in 2002.

But, waiving the requirement for public review by the National Environmental Policy Act needs a vote of Congress.

Groseta asked the Cottonwood City Council to join other local governments to support the Save Arizona Forest Environment Plan, and to put pressure on Congress.

The proposal has already received a thumbs-up from Maricopa County, Mohave County and the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors. The Yavapai vote was 2-0, with Chip Davis absent. Camp Verde will revisit the proposal again Wednesday after giving the public time to comment.

"When we had an active timber industry, wild fires would last no more than four to five days. Now we have a tremendous fuel load on the forest, lots of grass and lots of trees," said Groseta.

"The Endangered Species Act put the timber industry out of business," he continued. It all began with habitat protection of the Goshawk and Spotted Owl, said Groseta. "The process is broken and we need a Congressional fix."

The National Environmental Policy Act has created "analysis paralysis," according to Groseta. "All they do is study, study, study study. Things become tied up in court and makes big business for lawyers."

"We need a 'time out' of the environmental process to harvest more trees and get more cattle out there," he said.

He called the measure a "jobs creator bill."

"Once we had 24 large active sawmills in Arizona. We even had a sawmill in Cottonwood," he said.

Groseta said they want to move the NEPA waiver to Congress before the Thanksgiving break.

Councilman Terrence Pratt suggested that environmentalists and sportsmen would probably agree with the plan.

"I think it's a great idea," said Councilwoman Karen Pfeifer.

"Every county with a National Forest used to get money from them. That went away," claimed Groseta, "when the sawmills closed."

"Its all about balance," said Mayor Diane Joens, recalling that there has been a lot of overgrazing of the National Forest in the past.

"Is there a market for all this?" Jesse Dowling asked about the need for new raw timber.

Groseta said there is a, "12- to 24-month shelf life of the standing timber, already burned by wildfires." He said that burned timber was left to rot on Forest Land after the Rodeo-Chedeski, while it was harvested and sold from the burned Indian land.

Cottonwood's Bob Oliphant rose from the audience to oppose the plan. He said, "This is a Federal issue and not appropriate for the council to make a decision."

Oliphant called it a "get rich quick scheme," consistent with the GOP national platform to do away with the EPA and refrain from using the courts for five years.

The Cattleman's President disputed that the initiative is either a Republican or Democratic issue.

"It's better than just standing around and doing nothing. It's what is right for the land, based on 'true science,'" said Groseta.

Because of the disagreement among the council and public, the Mayor suggested the issue be returned for action when the public could be invited to have a say.

Groseta, apparently disappointed not to have approval of the town council, said he might not be able to make a future meeting since he travels a lot. He added that there are 12 to 15 members of his organization and one could attend to defend the proposal.

The council seemed to agreed the measure should return for a public hearing.

Mayor Joens suggested that meeting would be held Oct. 4.

NEPA requires that an agency considering any action that would have a significant impact on the environment prepare an EIS.

The EIS must contain a "detailed statement" including the environmental impacts of the proposed project, and all reasonable alternatives to the project.

The NEPA policy, emerged from environmental reactions to the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil spill, the Clean Water and Wilderness Acts, growing concern over Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and the freeway revolts of the sprawling Interstate system.

NEPA is the study that generates an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement.

Related Stories:
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• Letter: Cattlemen’s argument laughs in face of forest science
• Letter: You will find in nature’s lessons a greener future

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2011
Article comment by: Gregory Scott

All the enviro's and people that want cattle off the National Forest... here is to you... The cattle on the forest is what America eats for dinner.."beef"
I guess its like everything else in America we could import beef from china, possibly it could be full of steroids and every other kind of germ to your liking...lmao... like the rest of America if it wasnt for imports could America get buy??? The logging job loss to America was the biggest slap in the face ever... China still logs off the coast of Washington and lets all the sawdust and waste fall in the ocean... but that is ok... lmao it was the ill bred enviromentalist that created the endangerment of the spotted owl in the first place..but I guess since it over the 28mile from the USA its now international waters and its ok... again LMAO but you all will try to destroy everything you can in America... go figure

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2011
Article comment by: Gregory Scott

I agree with Andy, we need Logging to thin the forest and cattle grazing to help keep the forest fires from being so bad... think about this.
why is our forest fires getting bigger because nothing is being done to clean the National Forest... its nothing but a big wood box getting ready to burn burn burn... that is why all the USFS hot shot crews continue to grow along with more slury planes, more fire fighting equipment ..more tax dollars spent/wasted on wild fires because of shutting down logging... the Wallow Fire South West flank didnt burn the Apache White Mt. Reservation because they logg and graze there land... they dont believe in the spotted owl endangered spieces that was created to shut down logging... ever think of why logging was shut down??? could it be All of our National Parks and National Forests is what is used for Collateral to get money at the world bank... lmao all you people on here concerned about what use to be Our National Forest isnt anymore...that is why you dont see the signs "protect your National Forest" anymore they took the signs down in the mid 80s...its going to belong to the world bank sooner before later...except the wilderness's that is excluded from the world bank collateral...that is why we have all the wilderness's for the endangered spieces that keeps getting created or made up... lol
My vote since we are bringing back endangered spieces... what would be wrong with bringing back a bunch of Charles Mansons
and let them live in SanFrancisco / NY. etc..
Arizona and give Charles about 200 head of Cattle to make a living with and a little forest permitt...I bet you all would not be as brave as you are on here...I see half of you use fake names to hide

Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011
Article comment by: robert m

All Hat No Cattle - He is At it Again
per your quote "Groseta is now in the pocket of the special interest lumber and cattle "
I agree with you accept the part about in the pocket of the lumber industry.. Mr. Groseta has nothing to do with the logging and timber industry of Arizona. If he were he would be part of 4FRI or the White Mountain Stewardship.
He is all about his personal interests as well as free grazing.. He wants a free ride no more no less. However he is not going to get it on the hard working backs of Arizona loggers and Timber industry workers coat tails.
Maybe he might try and get backing from the humane society or a lab rescue org. Dont see that one happening either.

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011
Article comment by: All Hat No Cattle - He is At it Again

Now that he has taken care of those mean old Lab's and reigns supreme in the ACGA he is at it again. All Hat, no cattle all mouth, no brain engaged.
Groseta is now in the pocket of the special interest lumber and cattle (or is it stockman? LOL) industry.
This guy is nothing but a misguided, self serving, self promoter of the worst kind. Keep his skewed opinions in the opinion section where they belong.
And forget all this BS about job creation and such. It's called serving special interests factions under the guise of benefits to all my needy neighbors. He has no comprehension of anything related to conservation or preservation or forest management.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: marie c starr

...did I hear correctly, "I When we had an active timber industry, wild fires would last no more than four to five days. Now we have a tremendous fuel load on the forest, lots of grass and lots of trees," ...SOUNDS LIKE "IF YOU HAVE NO MORE TREES, IT WON'T BURN". Seriously, let's take care of this the intelligent way a clean up and maintenance program ( like the one of Prescott N.F) is a more responsible way than re-introducing commercial logging or cattle grazing .(remember the dust bowl effect).

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: Win Hjalmarson

At the request of environmental groups the U. S. Forest Service removed grazing from along the Verde River in central Arizona in the mid 1990s. Apparently evidence showed that cattle concentrated along the river banks destroyed natural habitat by over grazing and hoof traffic. I've also observed this problem at stock tanks (ponds), springs and salt blocks. I've also observed that Dan Fain did a respectable job running cattle on Mingus Mtn. a couple of generations ago. So the issue appears to be the number of acres needed to support a cow and the concentration of cattle at environmentally sensitive areas.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: Some misconceptions here

Mr. Groseta represents a special interest group and is welcome to his opinion. But some of his allegations are off base and are not in the best interest of the majority of us.

Mr. Groseta's statement that forest fires used to last "4 or 5 days" seems to be completely unfounded. Fires have always been here, and always will. There are no time limits on how short or long they're supposed to last.

And bringing in chainsaws and cows will not stop wildfires. Nothing short of clearcutting and removing anything flammable from our forests will do that.

Wildfires are in fact a normal, necessary, and important component of forest health. In Arizona, wildfires have historically burned any given section of forest an average of 3 times every decade.

It's also unfounded that the Endangered Species Act put the timber industry out of business. The fact is the timber industry is alive and well.

In Arizona, the timber industry is changing and evolving, just as our management of forests has. Just look at all the Heaters wood pellets over at Home Depot - made in Arizona's White Mountains. There's a new lumber mill by Cameron, and the one by Fredonia has been in business for decades.

Timber is big business, and will continue to be in Arizona with the 4 Forests Project. This project is going through the NEPA process, which proves it works.

There are many many good projects all over the Arizona besides 4 Forests that prove NEPA works. To make a statement like "paralysis by analysis" just doesn't hold water.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: cogito ergosumatra

Funny how the ranchers have suddenly become such healthy forest advocates. I guess letting their cows ravage forests and rivers would be good for their bottom line, but to couch it as good for the environment? Give me a break!

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: Funny Until I Realized...

Ridiculous. At first it sounded like satire, until I realized people were actually thinking about it! Yes, our forests are in poor condition but the cause isn't just "radical environmentalists" and solution is much more complex than chain saws and cows. The lumber companies aren't interested in forest restoration. They just want big trees. And Mr. Groseta just wants free grazing.

Support 4FRI--a true bipartisan, community inspired effort--not a paid lobbyist.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: change your diet for the right reasons

You wouldn't be so keen to chomp on that Big Mac if you experienced large scale feedlots with the grotesque sights and overpowering stench of urine, overuse of antibiotics, etc. Best of all worlds is to stop eating meat for better health and a cleaner conscience from not supporting an inhumane industry.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: Lee Cali

Wow, am I impressed with the intelligence behind these comments. After writing many letters to the editor on clean air , the EPA, endangered species, etc. and receiving online posts blasting me for my "liberal, socialistic, democrap" ideas, I had come to the conclusion that here in rural AZ only gun totin' cowboys, ranchers, dog killers, loggers were respected citizens.

Thanks to Mr. Oliphant for exposing us to the more sensible types that are interested in environmental protections to benefit us all.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Article comment by: Happy Sue, Take a ride down Cornville Road!

The land on both sides of Cornville Rd from the House Mtn gate to I-17 has been completely denuded of vegatation from the Apache Maid cows. Erosion is setting in certain areas, and there are cow paths galore. Prime example of overgrazing.

Rather than more cows on forest service land that making you richer, Mr. Groesta, how about a few more dear and elk, since it is our land, not just yours.

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011
Article comment by: Robert M. Arizona Logging and Timber Facts and Fiction

People Mr. Groseta is misinforming you.

First off, Thank you Mr. Oliphant for standing up and causing the Council to not act on Mr. Groseta's ridiculous request.

Mr. Groseta I am not sure what your motivation or intentions are however there is no need at all for the town to have anything to do with your request.

There is a lot of us jointly that have been working for a long time on this issue.
The project is called the 4FRI - or Four Forest Restoration Initiative, WWW.4FRI.COM please review this website for more information.
The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is a collaborative effort to restore forest ecosystems on portions of four National Forests - Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto - along the Mogollon Rim in northern Arizona.

Ponderosa pine forest stretches almost continuously from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, across the Mogollon Rim, to the White mountains in eastern Arizona.

Unfortunately, these forests have been degraded by unsustainable historical land uses and fire exclusion. The result is overgrown forests with thin, unhealthy trees and the threat of unnaturally severe wildfire.

The vision of 4FRI is restored forest ecosystems that support natural fire regimes, functioning populations of native plants and animals, and forests that pose little threat of destructive wildfire to thriving forest communities, as well as support sustainable forest industries that strengthen local economies while conserving natural resources and aesthetic values.

Here is a list of those working so hard on this project.
Arizona Eastern Counties Association
Arizona Forest Restoration Products
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona State Forestry Division
Arizona Wildlife Federation
Center for Biological Diversity
Coconino County
Coconino Natural Resources Conservation District
Coconino Rural Environment Corps
Ecological Restoration Institute
Flagstaff Fire Department
Forest Energy Corporation
Gila County
Graham County
Grand Canyon Trust
Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership
Greenlee County
Mottek Consulting
National Wild Turkey Federation Navajo County
Northern Arizona Logging Association
Northern Arizona Natural Resources Working Group
Northern Arizona University Forest Ecosystem Restoration Analysis
Northern Arizona Wood Products Association
Pioneer Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Sierra Club
Southwest Sustainable Forests Partnership
The Nature Conservancy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mr. Groseta if you were honestly interested in the health of the forest as you say then why is your name not on this list ? why is The Arizona Cattle Growers Association not on this list????

To the citizens and Town of Cottonwood I say do not get involved with Mr. Groseta's proposal no need for the waste of time, expense and research that would be needed by town staff.

Town of Cottonwood if you are interested in the value and health of the forest get involved with the 4FRI, all the legal leg work is done and it would cost the town and the tax payers nothing.

As for Mr. Groseta same applies to you and The Arizona Cattle Growers Association, if you are truly after forest health and not personal gain I look forward to seeing both you and the Association's name on the 4FRI list very soon.

To those that are interested in more information please learn more here.
Get Involved
The Forest Service is committed to working with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Stakeholder Group and all interested members of the public prior to, during, and following the official National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process as it develops. The Forest Service will be using input from diverse individuals and organizations to inform NEPA products such as the purpose and need statement, proposed action, alternatives, collection and use of data, impact analysis, development of a preferred alternative and/or recommendations regarding mitigation of environmental impacts, and development of monitoring and adaptive management processes.

Individuals and organizations interested in 4FRI may join the 4FRI Stakeholder Group or work directly with the Forest Service 4FRI Implementation Team.

Contacts for the 4FRI Stakeholder Group can be found in the "Stakeholder" menu tab.

Contacts for the Forest Service 4FRI Implementation Team can be found in the "Contacts" menu item in the top menu on each page.

If the town acts on Mr. Groseta's request after learning of the 4FRI well I guess it will just be more "good ole boy politics" instead of what is in the best interest of the town and its citizens financially.

See ya at the meeting.

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011
Article comment by: Mel Burke

Shame on VVN for giving this kind of editorial coverage to an association president. They are paid to represent the needs and wishes of the assn. members.
Groseta's interests are opinion and should be submitted and run in an opinion section.
The Prescott National Forest has entered into a 10 yr contract to remove downed branches and timber from the forest. That should help solve the problem. Clear cutting ("bring on the chainsaws") solves nothing except giving him more grazing ground.

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011
Article comment by: Baby and Bathwater

Important to understand the good reasons for the Endangered Species Act and NEPA. They provide needed balance and protection of the land.

Extinctions of many forms of life are happening now at an alarming rate, primarily due to man's impact. What the ESA does is protect habitat, and we as people are in many ways just as dependent on these habitats as the endangered species are.

NEPA provides a method for the public to get involved and provide some needed balance when the government is planning projects on public land. Without it, we the people would often be shut out of the process between the special interest groups (mining, ranching, logging) and the government bureaucrats.

If the system can be improved so it works better and benefits everyone, I'm all for it. But we need to be careful to not throw out these important babies with the bathwater.

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