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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials February 6, 2016

7/19/2013 1:19:00 PM
Editorial: Let's hope we've learned from past mistakes on river access

Clarkdale's efforts to create a series of Verde River access points will be the litmus test of how much we've matured as a community that supposedly cares about the river.

Already, our collective maturity is suspect thanks to a couple of vandals who targeted new parking signs at the Tuzigoot access point.

Unfortunately, that's somewhat consistent with what we used to see in the Verde Valley prior to the 1993 flood that served as a symbolic and ecologic re-birth of the river.

Prior to 1993, the river was basically wide open. And, it showed. The evidence was one leftover party spot after another all along the river between Clarkdale and Camp Verde. There was no shortage of slobs in the Verde Valley back then. There was no shortage of disrespect for the river and its ecosystem.

It was rather common to find old couches and Lazyboys parked alongside choice river catfish holes, along with a pile of leftover beer bottles. There was also this strange Verde phenomenon of using old car bodies for bank stabilization and mini-dams. In Camp Verde, there was the infamous "car dam" that stretched the length of the river. A local woman once pulled a 48-pound catfish out of the waters backed up by the "car dam."

All of our river garbage ended up being swept away Feb. 20, 1993 when floodwaters peaked at 65,000 cubic feet per second at the Clarkdale gauge and 105,000 cfs in Camp Verde.

The 1993 flood marked the beginning of the movement to protect the river from ... well ... us. We've gone from unlimited Wild West access to very limited access.

Clarkdale's leaders are working to change that.

Let's hope they don't regret it.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

First published in 1921, "Said Hanrahan" is a poem about a farming/ranching community of Irish-Australians in rural New South Wales. It was written by Patrick Joseph Hartigan (1878-1952), a parish priest, under the pen name John O'Brian.

'Rooned' is the Irish pronunciation of 'ruined'. 'Never since the banks went broke' refers to the 1890s--bad drought years when banks went broke due the collapse of a big property boom. 'Back-o'-Bourke' is an Australian colloquialism for the Outback and 'every creek a banker ran' means streams overflowed their banks.

Said Hanrahan

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan in accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began one frosty Sunday morn.
The congregation stood about coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought as it had done for years.
"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil, with which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel and chewed a piece of bark.
And so around the chorus ran, "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
"The crops are done ye'll have your work to save one bag of grain
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke they're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said, "And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head, and gazed around the sky.
"There won't be grass, in any case, enough to feed an ass
There's not a blade on Casey's place as I came down to Mass."
"If rain don't come this month," said Dan, and cleared his throat to speak --
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal on all at this remark
And each man squatted on his heel, and chewed a piece of bark.
"We want an inch of rain, we do, "O'Neil observed at last
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two, to put the danger past.
"If we don't get three inches, man, or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain and all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane it drummed a homely tune.
And through the night it pattered still, and lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill kept talking to themselves.
It pelted, pelted all day long, a-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran, and dams filled overtop
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If this rain doesn't stop."
And stop it did, in God's good time and spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime of green and pink and gold.
And days went by on dancing feet, with harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face, as happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place went riding down to Mass.
While round the church in clothes genteel discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel, and chewed his piece of bark.
"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man, there will, without a doubt
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Big Sky Lady

So your solution is to keep all people away from the river? People are bad, people are no good for the environment. We can't trust people with our river. Why not just keep people out of our parks, away from our landmarks. Why not just force them all into fenced suburban areas where they cannot step foot outside the fence under threat of punishment? If we left it up to the environmental extremists, that's what they would do.
This land is your land, this land is my land. If you have stupid idiots who vandalize and throw beer bottles, it's no reason to cut off the rest of us from enjoying America the Beautiful. They are wrong to do so, and it is a shame they can't be caught and charged. The fault lies in lack of education, or in the parents of these jerks who never raised them with respect for the land. Maybe that's where the focus should be.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Working to change that or sell that ?

From the outside looking in- whats happening looks a lot more like marketing than preservation/conservation.

Of course the stated rationale is that introducing more people to the river will endear it to their hearts and inspire them to save it... but the line between that and opening a shop that sells fools gold, scorpions in resin globes and rubber tomahawks, is not so clear.

By installing these areas is the town assuming the liability for the use between them? Is the route clear and passable with no dangers lurking under the surface, left overs from previous man made efforts to 'save' the river?

The Verde is the valley's lifeblood in many ways. Isn't that worth more than catchy social networking or using it as a tourist magnet? Was that all that was left after the 'sustainability park' became unsustainable?

Who will benefit from these areas? Who will profit from their use and who will pay the final price of that use?

Best wishes and good luck- but don't be afraid to change course if the results are not what had been hoped for. Mother nature has a way of putting us in our place regardless of our best laid plans.

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