Dr. Kelli Ward: Opposition to Medicaid Expansion is Real

Dr. and Senator Kelli Ward

Dr. and Senator Kelli Ward

Since January, many of us at the State Capitol have been trying to determine a common sense way to approach reliable health care for our neediest citizens. It is clear that a full expansion of our Medicaid program to 138% above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) will add 400,000 patients or more to an already overloaded system. After carefully studying this complex issue, I have determined the plan is unsustainable and potentially harmful to hardworking Arizona taxpayers. We simply do not have the doctors and other health care providers to offer primary care to these new patients. When people are sick or seek care for their chronic illnesses, they will not be able to get into a doctor’s office, so they will instead turn to our emergency departments. Not only will that be much more expensive to Arizonans, but the people are unlikely to get the kind of care they need most.

The last time we expanded AHCCCS (the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – AZ’s Medicaid); we grossly underestimated the number of people who would enroll. Three times more parents of Medicaid-covered children and two times as many childless adults signed up. Costs went from an estimated $315 million to an actual $1.2 billion. Voters were told tobacco settlement money under Prop 204 would cover the added patients, but quickly we had to dig into the general fund. Now we are being told a hospital bed tax will cover this expansion proposal and the Federal government will bear the burden of the majority of the costs until 2017. Remember, the Federal government gets its money from us – the taxpayers. While no one can predict the true future price tag, experience proves that the costs have always been much higher than estimated.

Do not let people tell you there are no alternatives and we either expand or do nothing – there are real options. We should request that HHS allow Arizona to continue our current plan for those under 100% FPL and for Arizona to determine the best way to provide care for our indigent population. We should find ways to complete treatment of Medicaid patients that are in the midst of potentially lifesaving therapy for catastrophic illnesses despite the expiration of our current Federal waiver on December 31, 2013 – we can find a way to make an exception for this small number of patients. People above 100% FPL that are not otherwise eligible for coverage are able to buy subsidized policies through the federal exchange, we should let them. We should consider providing catastrophic coverage policies for those under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and a graduated plan for other services. Cost transparency should be our goal. We must seek tort reform to discourage the practice of defensive medicine which drives up the cost of healthcare.

Our Medicaid system in Arizona is one of the best in the country, but I don’t believe that we need to make it bigger and give control of the hundreds of millions of dollars to an unelected agency director. I will continue to seek free market solutions to our health care dilemma and find ways to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. If you only remember one thing, remember this: the Medicaid expansion plan is about increasing the entitlement to healthcare coverage without any guarantees of increased accountability, improved access to care, higher quality, or lower costs of healthcare – it is a step in the direction of socialized medicine and much bigger government.

Senator Kelli Ward

Senator Kelli Ward, D.O., MPH is a Family Physician with additional expertise in Health Policy, she represents Arizona’s 5th Legislative District and resides in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her family. She serves on the Senate Health & Human Services (Vice-Chair), Appropriations, Education and Government & Environment Committees.

Dr. Kelli Ward: Affordable Healthcare Act Must Be Repealed

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Dr. Kelli Ward, candidate for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 5, released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to strike down the overreaching “Healthcare Law”. It is now time for Arizona to resist the Federal Government and the implementation of this overreaching legislation and work with our congressional delegation to repeal and replace this unsustainable law. I plan to work for Arizona to help develop a healthcare system that includes a safety net, accountability and purchasing freedoms while encouraging people to be consumers of healthcare and not just of insurance. To accomplish this, we must remember a fundamental principle: government intervention will not make healthcare more affordable – it only drives up the costs. The same is true when big insurance gets involved in healthcare policy; the costs go up. Only free market solutions will solve this issue. It is time to elect someone to the State Senate that understands healthcare delivery, the difficulty for the underinsured and uninsured and the frustration of providing care without accountability to Arizonans on Medicaid programs. When elected to the State Senate I will advocate the following:

  • -Oppose the Federal Government and state implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act
  • Drug testing with consequences for people getting taxpayer assistance
  • Freedom to purchase insurance across state lines
  • Tort reform
  • Intelligent changes to Medicaid programs to help people get the care they need
  • Decrease the influence of big insurance on the Legislature and policy makers
  • Encourage patients to understand real healthcare costs and become healthcare consumers, removing the health insurance companies and the government from the Physician-Patient relationship

Dr. Kelli Ward is a conservative Republican candidate from LD5 who lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her husband, Dr. Michael Ward, and their three kids Katie, Cameron and Nick. She is a family physician with additional experience in small business, corporate administration, medical education, health policy and public health. She is a mom, Rotarian and military spouse.

Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen Endorses Dr. Kelli Ward

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Dr. Kelli Ward, candidate for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 5, announces the endorsement of Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen. Dr. Ward continues to gain momentum as she receives key endorsements throughout the District such as Kingman Mayor John Salem, the Lake Havasu Police Officers Association and the Mohave Republican Forum.

“I am proud to endorse Dr. Kelli Ward for the office of Arizona State Senator, LD5”, stated Mayor Mark Nexsen. “Kelli fully understands the issues that are facing our cities and towns. She has the leadership qualities and keen analytical sense to understand and solve the issues facing our state. I look forward to casting my vote for Dr. Kelli Ward on August 28, 2012.”

Dr. Ward is honored to receive the endorsement of Mayor Nexsen. She shares Mayor Nexsen’s strong belief that the best government is the government closest to the people and that the state should not shift its responsibilities to balance its own budget to counties and cities. “I believe that the endorsements of our local city leaders like Mayor Nexsen are far more important than distant organizations that may not have the same priorities that we have in Mohave and La Paz Counties. I am dedicated to improving our economic development and bringing additional good paying, skilled jobs to our district. I value my relationship with our local leaders and look forward to working with them to improve the opportunities afforded the residents of LD5.”

Dr. Kelli Ward is a conservative Republican candidate from LD5 and lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her husband, Dr. Michael Ward, and their three kids Katie, Cameron and Nick. She is a family physician with additional experience in small business, corporate administration, medical education, health policy and public health. She is a mom, Rotarian and military spouse.

Senator Sylvia Allen’s Remarks on SB1070


Those who are promoting the repeal of SB1070 are upholding and empowering cartels and gangs who are committing cross border criminal activity.

We are in a State of Emergency here in Arizona. Our border is not secure. The crippling drug war in Mexico is seeping like a very bad wound into our state. Violent beheadings and body dismemberment, the signature of the drug cartel’s, have now come into the Valley of the Sun, and are even finding their ugly way into the heart of America: A young girl brutally killed in Oklahoma only a week ago!

Increased gun battles along the Arizona border and 75-miles into Arizona; dangerous vehicle pursuits with drug cartel members and those who are delivery agents of drugs occur most frequently; kidnappings too. Continued reports by U.S. Border Patrol Agents of military-grade weapons being used against them; reports of sophisticated communication systems, including professional-grade radio towers, satellite radios and encrypted phone systems; look-outs controlling mountain ranges in southern Arizona; and a cancer-like growth of pure vile and hatred toward any law enforcement, and the laws of the United States.

Drugs and human trafficking create billions of dollars for these evil violent Mexican drug gangs/cartels. Just the competition for bounty from human and sex trafficking generated an estimated $2 billion last year to Mexican gangs and cartels.

At a time when the Obama Administration is not only refusing to secure our borders but implementing policies that will embolden this criminal element we must stand firm in enforcing internal immigration laws for the protection of our state and citizens. SB1070 is all this state has to stop illegal immigration since our border is not secure.

The Tucson Sector is the busiest drug and alien smuggling corridor on the border.

Agents working the Tucson Sector estimate they are apprehending less than five percent of what they know is crossing the border on a monthly basis. That means over 95% of what they know is coming across the border is not being apprehended and therefore not counted. (April 2011)

Agents in the Tucson Sector estimate that they only work about 70% of their border area during any month. That means for 30% of the border they have no idea what is coming across. (April 2011)

More law enforcement is needed to help address this emergency created by our open borders. I will be introducing SB1083 – Organizing the AZ State Guard – to help state law enforcement with cross-border criminal activity.

Approximately 62% of the Arizona border with Mexico is federal public land. Significant drug and alien smuggling occurs on this land, especially where the Border Patrol does not have unfettered access to patrol the border. Federal agencies on the Arizona Border, citing environmental concerns, restrict and in some cases prevent effective border patrol access to the border area for the purposes of patrolling the border.

This is an insane policy that only protects and empowers the criminals but leaves Arizona citizens at risk. Our state has a right and a responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the people to use our police powers to protect our state. I will be introducing SCR1008 – titled, “Declaration of emergency: state authority” – to address this issue.

In summary, nobody knows how many illegal drugs and alien smugglers are crossing the borders of the United States, and the numbers they are reporting are not accurate enough to even predict trends in illegal crossings. And friends, that is just the Tucson Sector. What about the rest of the land and sea borders of the United States? Our ranchers and farmers who live within 100 miles of the border are speaking out, and no one hears. Governor Brewer has written strong letters to President Obama asking for help with our border, and it all goes on deaf ears.

Those who are suggesting we weaken internal enforcement of our immigration laws by repealing SB1070 will only empower the drug cartels/human smugglers, and cross-border criminal activity. The Open Borders crowd does not care about the harm that is being caused to citizens. The open-borders crowd does not care about the rule of law or our Constitutional form of government. Arizona must stand firm in protecting our citizens, property and lives.

Until we can rid ourselves of the Obama Administration, the corrupt (Fast and Furious) Justice Department, and the do-nothing Homeland Security and their failure to protect our country, then the State of Arizona must do what we can to protect our citizens. No responsible elected official would suggest that we weaken SB1070 until our borders are secure.


State Senator Sylvia Allen: Arizona In a State of Emergency

By Senator Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

The Arizona border remains under assault. This assault is not diminishing but increasing! Just south of Arizona, Mexico is in a state of civil war. The death toll in Mexico is more than 40,000 lives lost since 2006. Only the Mexican military is able to maintain any semblance of order, and many within Mexico are now even openly questioning “for how long?” In a recent exclusive interview with Newsmax, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said bluntly his nation was at “war” with drug cartels. “Everybody’s trying to deny that we’re going through a war but that’s what it is.”

Graphic photos of beheadings, kidnapping scenes, and mass graves are sent to me weekly in Border Briefing reports. The cartels/gangs have corrupted Mexican law enforcement at all levels, thereby protecting their illicit $12-billion-a-year criminal enterprise. You would think the United States government would be greatly concerned; you would think those in positions of public trust in Washington would spend at least as much time working on stabilizing Mexico as they do on Egypt and Libya. Yet hardly a word is said about the increasing problems and threats stemming from our immediate neighbor to the south other than the spin from Washington that “the border is safer now than ever.” But to those of us tasked with providing security to the citizens of Arizona and beyond, nothing of substance is said or enacted and, all the while, a war is headed this way. This war is real, and it is dangerous, and soon this war will be fought with increasing measures in America.

NewsMax devoted two months last Spring conducting more than 20 interviews during visits to border areas in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. They found overwhelming evidence that Mexico’s drug cartels have already penetrated deep into our nation’s heartland, and Americans are increasingly fearful.

As Chairman of the Arizona Senate Committee on Border Security, my committee heard testimony last year from many citizens who live in the border area. They reported home invasions, vandalism, stolen property, and a host of other criminal activities. An Intelligence Briefing to a Joint Session of Selected Legislators on November 10th, 2011, by Zack Taylor, retired Border Patrol Supervisory Agent, and Dr. Lyle Rapacki, a Threat Assessment and Intelligence Specialist, went even further than the NewsMax articles. These experts reported how “lookout posts” are positioned in key points throughout the desert, and as far north (65-miles from the border) as the City of Casa Grande, Arizona, the I-8 corridor and Apache Junction, and along the I-10 corridor approaching the bedroom community of Ahwatukee. This briefing further revealed that the cartels (and lookouts) are heavily armed with military-grade weapons, camouflage, sophisticated and expensive night-vision goggles, satellite communications, food and water, and organized logistical support. If you go to the Pinal County Sheriff’s website, you can read many reports of drug busts, fire fights, auto chases, and other serious encounters with the cartels/gangs/human smugglers occurring frequently in Pinal County, which is far inside the border of the United States of America.

Additionally, and with as much concern, Arizona has to deal with health issues and trash, mounds of trash left by illegals marching into America. Fifth-generation rancher Jim Chilton has seen his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, be destroyed with crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated – and his ranch is littered with trash, tons of trash, and some of this trash is dead bodies. Mr. Chilton stated: “I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through my ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. This means 100 tons of trash. Some of my cows eat the plastic bags that are thrown down, and about 10 head of cattle die per year, and their deaths are slow and painful. At $1,200 per cow lost, this means I lose $12,000 a year in cows to trash!”

Adding insult is the Bureau of Land Management with their insane proposal to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, and another 1.4 million acres of additional public lands in Pinal County. The Bureau claims shooters are leaving trash behind. It is NOT the shooters who are decimating the desert but drug and human smugglers! The BLM knows this but have developed this ploy to restrict Arizonans from entering this land. Arizona Game and Fish, on their maps, warn hunters that 35 miles north of the Border the land is impacted by illegal activity from illegals. Arizona is losing control of her sovereign land!

Tragedy upon tragedy, as we add the fires set by illegals that have destroyed our lands! Senator McCain was correct this past summer laying blame on the illegals for some of the horrific and terribly destructive fires that were purposefully set. It cost more than $70 million to fight these insidious fires, and the official U.S. Government response was to attempt to silence McCain. Why is the apparent official policy of the United States to ridicule and silence those who are trying to protect our state of Arizona? Why are the cartels protected? Why do official U.S. government departments, sworn to protect American citizens, extend protection to gangs working with the drug cartels, and even to terrorists entering our nation from various border entry points?

In 2007, speaking on the Larry King show, former Mexican President Vicente Fox confirmed the coming merger with Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Not only did Fox admit that he and George W. Bush had agreed to create a common currency, the Amero, he also contended that a North American Union is “inevitable.” There is, on the other hand, no will to secure our borders or to enforce our laws. There is a concerted, deliberate, and sophisticated program under way to erase our national boundaries and create a North American Union. Merging our country with Mexico and Canada would be a losing proposition for Americans. The governments of these three countries are not alike. The gift of sovereignty handed to us by our Forefathers would be extinguished, and we would become subjects, no longer free. I do not want this for myself or my grandchildren!

Progressive groups, radicals of many persuasions, and even anti-American groups are using the cry for “Open Borders” for their own purposes, and not for the concern of migrants. Those purposes include, but are not limited to, undermining our form of government and eroding our national sovereignty. Many of those entangled are innocent bystanders who become subject to blackmail and abuse by “coyotes,” cartels, human and slave traffickers, and radical political groups who have agendas that reach far beyond the safety and legal status of a vulnerable illegal family. With the recent recall of Senator Russell Pearce, the open borders crowd feels empowered, and they have no intention of stopping until they rid the political and governing scene of each and every individual who stands in the way of full and completely open borders, no national boundaries, and the complete remaking of America into the North American Union.

As an Arizona state legislator, I took an oath to uphold the Federal and State Constitutions and the laws of our land. If those laws need to be changed, we have a process by which people, through their elected representatives, can change them. In the meantime, elected representatives and residents are encouraged to live by the laws intended to provide order and safety for all. There is no higher calling for an elected official, state or federal, than to protect the freedom and public safety of the citizens they represent. Border Security ranks supreme. Without first securing the border, we will never be able to solve the myriad issues involving illegal immigration.

Arizona is in a State of Emergency. If we want to protect our national and state sovereignty, we must secure our border and enforce our laws. This is NOT a political move or call to action; this is a call to declare a State of Emergency in Arizona to preserve our land, our citizens and their property, and our state sovereignty, with all the means afforded to us by the Constitution of the United States of America.

We are still seeking donations to build the border fence. Please take a look at the “Build the Border Fence” website, and consider making a generous donation.

Best wishes to all of you during this holiday season. Despite the gloomy news on the border, we have much to be grateful for! God willing, we will make some progress on securing the border in the months ahead. The next Update will discuss some solutions to the border emergency.

Sen. Sylvia Allen: Democrats’ Method of Governing: Boycott Meetings and Start Recalls

Senator Sylvia Allen

CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

(STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX) – As Republicans prepare for another legislative session focused on getting Arizona back to work and improving our economy, Democrats have embraced a curious strategy of boycotting meetings and threatening recalls against Republicans who don’t vote with them.

“Recalls have never and were never meant to be used against lawmakers whose sole fault was they disagreed with you on the issues. They’re designed to target people who may have committed crimes or were guilty of gross misconduct in office,” says Senator Sylvia Allen, President Pro Tem of the Senate.

“But Democrats are now talking about making this their go-to strategy. Contact some outside interests, pay people to collect signatures, and bingo, you have a recall election. This is no way to govern.”

Democrats also boycotted meetings for the recent Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, even though many members of their party complained about the draft maps and the process.

Democrats are also twisting last night’s recall election results into a referendum against enforcement of illegal immigration. SB 1070 remains widely popular in Arizona, and the bulk of the law is being enforced in our state.

“SB 1070 mirrored federal immigration law. We must have legislation like this, because there is no physical barrier at the border. The border is not secure,” says Senator Allen.

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Senator Sylvia Allen on the Constitutional removal of Colleen Mathis

Senator Sylvia Allen

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed the Governor’s removal of the Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Colleen Mathis. This action should have been taken back in June, but it was taken now because the maps produced by the IRC under the direction of the Chair are unconstitutional in all six criteria that must be considered:

  • The U.S.Voting Rights Act
  • Equal Population
  • Geographical Compactness
  • Respect for Communities of Interest
  • Use of Visible Geographic features
  • Competitiveness

We believe that Ms. Mathis has presided over a dysfunctional process riddled with incompetence and that she has failed in her one, overriding goal: to produce constitutional maps.

The Chair prevented Republican Commission members from hiring their own counsel, and she engineered the awarding of a mapping consultant contract to a partisan firm that clearly was in over its head. The awarding of the contract to Strategic Telemetry was done under a cloud of open meeting violations and alleged bid-rigging. Those evaluations were then put through a paper shredder so that nothing can be verified.

She has refused to cooperate with the Attorney General’s open meeting law investigation of the IRC.

The IRC abandoned the use of grid maps, contrary to the Arizona Constitution.

Dramatic changes were made to the draft maps over the weekend of September 24, in private and without the full Commission. The following Monday, commissioners were asked to view and approve the entirely new maps.

After seven days of testimony in front of the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, there is overwhelming evidence that the IRC has produced unconstitutional congressional and legislative draft maps. You can read the report here.

The law provides for the actions that the Governor and the Legislature took Tuesday. When Proposition 106 was passed by the people, provisions were included for removal of any Commissioner if they did not function properly and within the law.

I heard a consistent complaint over and over from many in my District who attended the IRC meeting. They felt strongly that the commissioners did not listen or care about the testimony given concerning their proposed maps. Early in the process, maps from my District had been drawn and submitted to the Commission. These maps had strong support of the vast majority of my District. These maps met the Constitutional criteria and would have kept eastern rural Arizonatogether. In my District alone, 15 cities and towns passed resolutions in support of our maps and against the IRC maps. The five eastern counties all testified that we would lose rural representation under the new maps and that the four new districts drawn out of the original District 5 did not meet the Constitutional criteria.

More than ten years ago, Prop 106 (the Creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission) was sold to the public by persuading them that it would be “independent” – that is, free from all partisanship. Please understand that NOTHING is ever free from politics or partisanship but if it is held accountable to the people through their vote and voice, then we have a better check on the process.

Before the IRC (Prop 106), the state Constitution put the responsibility for redistricting in the hands of the Legislature, approved by the Governor. This constitutional process held the Legislature/Governor accountable to the people who, through their vote and voice, could express their desires and concerns. Through this process, my 15 cities and towns and five counties’ resolutions would have had more of an impact on the Legislature than on an “independent” commission composed of people who feel no responsibility to or consequences from the voters.

By creating an “independent” commission that is totally unaccountable to the people, the people’s voice has been lost, and all that matters is the individual partisanship pressure the commissioners feel from special interests. We need to repeal the law that created the IRC and put this process back in the hands of the people, as it was originally constitutionally designed.

Allen calls on federal government to reform forest management policies

CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

(STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX) State Senator Sylvia Allen (R-5) today expressed her sadness and frustration over the devastation being caused by the rapidly-growing Wallow Fire in southern Apache and northern Greenlee Counties. Allen called on the U.S. Forest Service to reform its management policies and adopt restoration practices that will protect the forests and wildlife without harming rural communities, the economy, and the taxpayers.

“The Wallow Fire is further evidence that our current system of managing our forests is simply not working,” Allen said. “To the contrary, the federal government’s policies for protecting spotted owls and goshawks are wreaking devastation, destroying homes, and threatening lives, communities, and our economy throughout northern Arizona, and the owls and goshawks are no better protected.”

“It’s time that we return common sense to forest management. In areas where the forest had been thinned around communities, the fire has dropped and homes have been spared. Unfortunately, this thinning has only been accomplished in a few areas.”

Allen called on the Forest Service to move forward with the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, whereby the Forest Service contracts with private industry to do the mechanical thinning.

“The only way we’re going to restore our forests is to involve private industry, which will absorb the costs while responsibly thinning the forest, so we don’t have any more of these enormous fires,” said Allen. “It saves the taxpayers money, creates jobs, and protects us from these devastating wildfires.”

Allen also pointed to the economic devastation resulting from fires like the currently-burning Wallow and Horseshoe Fires and the Rodeo Chediski Fire of 2002. “Besides the millions of dollars it takes to fight these kinds of massive fires, there is another hidden cost to this beautiful region where I live. The fires kill tourism and recreation, and local businesses suffer for a long time after the fires go out.”

Allen expressed her gratitude to the firefighters and Forest Service officials who are responding to the Wallow Fire. “I want those who are fighting the fire to know that my prayers are with them for their safety, and my gratitude goes out to them for working so hard in fighting this fire.

My frustration is with bureaucrats 2000 miles away with their misguided regulations that lead to these catastrophic fires, and with the extreme environmental groups who have made millions of dollars from American taxpayers by filing lawsuits.”



State Legislators Assist Arizona Ranchers in Wallow Fire

CONTACT: Paul Boyer

Northern Arizona Representatives Brenda Barton, Chester Crandall, Senator Sylvia Allen and the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Pratt have reached out to the Arizona State Parks and State Land Department to facilitate the potential relocation of livestock in the event of evacuation requirements due to the Wallow Fire.

“We’re trying to do our part to help ranchers with their livestock,” Representative Brenda Barton said. “This move will help them to get a hold of water for their animals while these brave firefighters work to bring an end to the fire.”

State Parks and the State Land Department responded immediately to make the approximately 1,000 acres of Lyman Lake available to Northern Arizona ranchers for this relocation.

“I’m praying for the safety of our firefighters and citizens who are in the path of this catastrophic fire,” Senator Allen said. “Opening Lyman Lake is one thing that the state can do to help with livestock evacuation.”

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Representative Barton Questions Failed Federal Forest Management Policy

CONTACT: Paul Boyer

Representative Brenda BartonRepresentative Brenda Barton is questioning whether or not nonfeasance is the true root cause of the Wallow Fire, now the 3rd most catastrophic fire in Arizona’s history.

“My heart is broken for the loss Arizona is suffering today,” Representative Brenda Barton said. “And I am filled with righteous anger at those responsible for this terrible disaster. This did not have to be.”

In 2010, Barton and Senator Sylvia Allen specifically toured the region of Big Lake to see first hand the forest conditions in the area. What they saw was lands managed by the Apache Tribe and the State of Arizona were properly cleaned and cleared, thus one did not need a fence or a sign to know when they had crossed into federally managed lands because the conditions were so deplorable.

An over crowded forest not only is a significant fire hazard, but it chokes the water-shed, and makes hunting by native predators such as the owl nearly impossible.

“One thing is for sure, who needs a spotted owl management program after this fire,” Barton said.

It has been over a decade since the last timber mills closed in Arizona’s mountains, and in that time under the management of the United States Forest Service (USFS) over 1,700 square miles of the state’s forests have burned. “I thought we’d learned our lessons in 2002 after the devastating Rodeo-Chedeski fire that destroyed over 730 square miles of Arizona’s forests, taking homes and lives with it. But I guess its business as usual for the USFS,” Barton said.

For over a decade, residents and civic leaders in Arizona’s mountain communities have been imploring the USFS to adopt a more pro-active approach to forest management; one that allows for an aggressive program to clean and clear the forest floor. It’s here in what is called the “fire load” that otherwise healthy lightning strike fires become catastrophic and devastate hundreds of thousands of acres in a relatively short period of time. Such intense and large fire events have an effect of searing the ground, which in turn makes it relatively difficult for the forest to regenerate.

Compounding this management problem is the refusal of the USFS to allow previously burned lands, such as those remaining from the 2004 Willow fire near Payson, to be cleared and cleaned. Current practice now simply allows this debris to build up and become dry and fuel for future wildfires.

In contrast, Sweden, arguably one of the most progressive environmental nations in Europe has in the past six years turned away from the US practice of au natural forests and has aggressively begun a forest management program which grooms and utilizes the timber while cleaning the forest floor. This program has created over 7,500 new jobs in Sweden’s northern regions while providing timber for the domestic construction industry. Germany has also begun a program of managed harvesting of their famous Black Forest in Bavaria.

Meanwhile, the jobs and economy of northern Arizona has languished as the USFS has pursued a “hands off” approach to forest management, culminating in recent years with entire areas of Arizona’s forests being gated off and locked to recreational use.

In the past, well managed timber harvesting combined with prudent cattle management has kept Arizona’s forests clean, which minimizes the opportunities for catastrophic wildfires, such as we have experienced since the late 1990’s.

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