From the issue: “Fishing a quiet stretch of trout water along Cibecue Creek, midway between Cibecue Indian village and White Spring Ranger Station on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.” Photograph by Robert B. Whitaker.
After being closed for several years, the Salt River Canyon rest stop along U.S. Route 60 will reopen this fall, our bosses at the Arizona Department of Transportation announced last week.
The rest area has been closed because of a lack of funding for improvements, but several rest areas around Arizona have been improved through an ADOT program that began in 2011.
Crews will improve the area’s restrooms, repave the parking lot and add new signs, among other renovations. The rest area will be maintained by a private company that has partnered with ADOT.
(The photo above is not the rest stop. It’s not in that bad of shape.)
WPA Administration Building | Courtesy of Will Novak, Phoenix Historic Neighborhood Coalition
As you might have heard last week, plans to demolish a 1930s-era building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds are on hold after preservation activists intervened on its behalf. The fate of the building, known variously as the State Fair Civic Building and the WPA Administration Building, is now in limbo pending a hearing today (Tuesday, July 22) at the fairgrounds.
What makes this building worthy of preservation? We reached out to Vincent Murray, a historian with Arizona Historical Research, for more information about its past and why some believe it should be preserved. If you’d like to attend today’s meeting, it’s at 4 p.m. in the second-floor Board Room in the Arizona Coliseum, 1826 W. McDowell Road in Phoenix. (Stop by the Arizona Highways gift shop while you’re in the area!)
Q: Tell us a little about the history of the building.
A: The WPA Administration Building was built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration as its state headquarters. The WPA was a New Deal agency that provided employment and other services for millions of Americans, including tens of thousands of Arizonans (our population was less than half a million at the time). When the program ended in 1943, the building was used as the headquarters for AiResearch, one of Arizona’s early technology industries, and as exhibit space. This latter use is why it is sometimes referred as the Florticulture, Horticulture and Civic Building.
Q: What state is the building in currently?
A: The building hasn’t been well maintained. While state agencies are required by law to maintain and preserve historic buildings, the Arizona Exposition and State Fair Commission has been negligent in their duties. So, the building is in need of a new roof, as well as some minor structural repairs. Instead of performing the repairs, as required by law, the commission has decided to demolish the building. This decision was made without consultation of the State Historic Preservation Officer, which is also required by law. Had they followed the letter and intent of Arizona’s historic-preservation laws, they would have discovered that the cost for restoration was a fraction of their current $800,000 quote. They also would have a better idea of how the preservation of the building may qualify for tax incentives, its adaptive use and its potential for a return on an investment.
Q: What, in particular, makes this building worthy of being preserved, rather than demolished?
A: While we see a lot of the results of the WPA programs in Arizona, such as the park structures and sidewalks with the recognizable oval WPA stamp, and books, oral histories, artwork, etc., these are the results of the people who worked for the agency. But there is nothing that represents the human element, the decision-making process. This is where the direction for those efforts was located, the headquarters for the programs. Also, in keeping with the local support effort, this building was designed to be used as exhibit space after the end of the programs and the lease with the state.
Q: How can people get more information about, or contribute to, the preservation effort?
A: The Arizona Preservation Foundation has a website, www.azpreservation.org. You can find information and updates about the building under “endangered properties.” Not all old buildings need to be saved, but if we take the time to look into the history of places and think outside of the box on how places can be used for other purposes, we often see that demolition isn’t the best route, that alternatives really do make sense.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We received the following letter last week from Jim Zornes, forest supervisor for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately on the national forest treatment activities associated with the management of the San Juan Fire on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. I hope to at least set the record straight on what has occurred, and dispel some inaccurate information as it relates to vegetation-management activities on the local level.
The San Juan Fire started around noon on Thursday, June 26, 2014, on White Mountain Apache tribal lands near San Juan Lake. The fire was driven by a strong southwest wind and soon crossed over onto the Apache-Sitgreaves NF, about 6 miles south of Vernon. The Fort Apache Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs ordered the Southwest Area Incident Management Team (IMT) 4 (Matt Reidy’s team), who assumed command of the fire at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 27, 2014. The fire was making significant crown fire runs in the mixed conifer, and burning downslope toward the transition into ponderosa pine. One of the first pieces of information from the San Juan Fire IMT was the accounts of the fire lying down when it hit areas of treatment in the pine.
White Mountain Stewardship (WMS) is still the oldest and largest “operationally active” stewardship contract in the country, beginning in August 2004 and terminating in August 2014. It terminates in August because federal law requires all Integrated Resource Service Contracts to have a maximum term of 10 years. WMS was developed in the aftermath of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002 to treat fuels, especially around communities, and to build industry to support future treatment opportunities. It is, and has been, wildly successful. The degree of magnitude did not rise to the 150,000-acre threshold as planned, but has resulted in over 70,000 acres of mechanical treatment. A large portion of those treatments occurred in the path of the San Juan Fire. We don’t have to go back very far to see the same benefits of treatments in Alpine, Nutrioso, Eagar and Greer from the Wallow Fire.
But that’s not the whole story for the San Juan Fire; there have been thousands of acres of other treatments outside WMS that include additional timber sales, stewardship contracts and prescribed fire. Rocky Mountain Elk Society, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Habitat Partnership Committee have all stepped up to contribute funds to carry out these additional fire and vegetation management activities. Some news accounts have stated all these activities in past tense, but during the San Juan Fire, active logging was still occurring with log decks immediately adjacent to the fire lines. Additionally, prescribed fire is occurring whenever fire personnel can safely meet the objectives of their burn plans.
Suppression activities on the nearly 7,000-acre San Juan Fire are estimated to cost about $6.5 million (excluding resource values), with $250,000 of that total included as Burned Area Emergency Response. The above mentioned activity equates to approximately $932 per acre. Without prior treatments modifying fire behavior, the number of acres burned, the total costs of suppression and risk to firefighters would have been much higher. Mechanical treatments and prescribed fire modify the fuels environment; remember, the fire triangle contains air (oxygen), heat and fuel. The goal of treatment, whether by mechanical means or prescribed fire, is to reduce the effects of heat generated by reducing the amount of fuels. That in turn reduces the propensity for fires to reach the crowns of trees, and allows firefighters a safer environment to work.
Mechanical treatment costs have actually fallen from a high of around $500 per acre 10 years ago to at or near zero costs today. For the past three and a half years, competitive-bid timber sales and stewardship contracts have actually posted positive returns to Treasury. However, another cost center that must be addressed is the cost in firefighter safety. It is not enough to say one person or another is to blame for firefighter losses we’ve experienced over the past few years. Even one is not acceptable; even one is not on the table as a consequence of actions. Treatments do improve the “odds” of firefighters successfully managing and/or suppressing wildfires in a safer environment.
But once again, fire suppression and national-forest treatment costs are not the total story; those activities from partnership dollars, along with work being done by Navajo, Greenlee and Apache counties in partnership with Arizona State Forestry and White Mountain Apache Tribe, have contributed greatly to treating both sides of the ownership lines, whether it is federal, state or private lands. Those continued partnership activities are what it is going to take to continue to make advancements in protecting communities and resources in the White Mountains. There is currently a national investigation team looking at the effectiveness of treatments — another requirement for incidents such as the San Juan Fire when a wildfire burns into managed areas. If past history is a guide, I think we may already know the results of that outcome.
— Jim Zornes, Forest Supervisor, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The portfolio in our August issue, The Look Straight Ahead, is a celebration of the view through the windshield. That inspired this week’s Friday Fotos theme, “on the road,” and you all delivered. Thank you, as always, for your wonderful submissions. Now get out there and explore some more of Arizona’s roads this weekend!
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Rock formations in Chiricahua National Monument, Southeastern Arizona. Photograph by Josef Muench. “Miles of roads and trails reveal to the visitor all the beauty and fantastic formations of the Wonderland of Rocks,” the issue says. “The Wonderland is peopled by a million odd characters, admirably cast in this tableau of stone.”