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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions September 24, 2016

6/13/2013 2:31:00 PM
Editorial: Bull Pen closure logical, but fix should be fast

In the heat of summer, or the super-heat of spring as it has been this year in Arizona, there is something in human nature that seeks out water as an escape.

For many it is simple preservation. Free access to cool water on a blazing hot day could definitely qualify as an inalienable right.

So it is hardly a surprise that there has been a backlash at the Coconino National Forest's closing of the Bull Pen swimming area. The explanation for the closure - the possibility of tree limbs falling on campers and swimmers - is certainly logical, but the decision is incredibly bad timing.

And it begs the question of whether mitigation cannot be effected in a far more timely and less bureaucratic manner than is being described by the USFS.

Summer does not even start until next week, and Camp Verde temperatures have already hit triple digits. In the summer months, Bull Pen is one of the most crowded campgrounds in the area mostly because of the access to West Clear Creek. That crowding legitimizes the Coconino's concerns for safety from the aforementioned trees, but it also is evidence of how important the recreation area is to the local residents.

Having the area closed at its peak until September, as Forest Service employees have estimated, seems ridiculous to those who don't not live at the snail's pace of the USFS.

With many outdoors-loving Arizonans already unhappy new travel rules put into place by the Coconino last year, more should be done to alleviate any additional unplanned restrictions as soon as possible.

Yes, Verde Valley residents can go to other swimming holes along area creeks but many have fees attached - coincidentally by the USFS - that make them less attractive. The Verde River, in particular, is a nice alternative with several free access points if folks just want to get wet.

But the Bull Pen situation is about a broader experience than that. It has become self-preservation in the summer heat for hundreds of people. Alleviation of any safety issues there should be on a fast-track in what is already promising to be a harsh summer.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 22, 2013
Article comment by: Kenneth Goff

The USFS is all about power tripping in case any of you haven't figured that out yet. They claim that they can't maintain all the roads, much less cut down some trees in a timely manner.

Local fire wood cutters could do the job quickly. Instead they just want to post signs that tell us how much jail time we will get if we enter the area that is closed

It is going to take the people to say back off or we stop buying hunting license, wood permits or ATV stickers.

Checkout all their nice new vehicles they have down on Hwy 179 and then have them tell you they can't maintain the roads. Great job on keeping all the kids and families out of such a great swimming area.

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Bull Pen has been closed for a week. So how much progress has been made?

It should not take over 2 months to clean up the dangerous limbs that were suddenly created. Doesn't the FS do a monthly check for possible campground hazards? Lets wait til it's gotten so bad that it has to be closed down-right at the busiest time of the year.

Rather unique is referring people to fee service areas to swim in the creek. Surprised that these fee areas don't have the sudden hazardous hazards, too!

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Bad judgement or needed?

Sure seems like incredibly bad judgement by the CNF.

If the "possibility" of tree limbs falling is the reason for closure, then why isn't every campground in Oak Creek Canyon closed?

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say yes there really is a clear and present danger. Should it realistically take all summer to fix it?

I mean how many tree limbs are we talking about. Let's see the CNF provide more justification for this.

Remember, this land is owned by we the people. We entrust the USFS to manage our land for us in a responsible way. If this is an overreaction, Bull Pen should be reopened without further delay.

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