Category Archives: In YOUR Words

U.S. Forest Service Encourages You to Participate in 20th Anniversary of National Public Lands Day

Alia Shaban Pedigo | Apache Sitgreaves National Forest

Alia Shaban Pedigo | Apache Sitgreaves National Forest

From our friends at the U.S. Forest Service:

The U.S. Forest Service is offering a fee-free day on September 28 in conjunction with the 20th Annual National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

“Today’s announcement is part of the USDA for all Seasons campaign, which seeks to educate the public on all the ways the department’s agencies programs help communities and their economies every day,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “America’s national forests and grasslands belong to all of us. These beautiful places have so much to offer, and we hope you’ll get outside and volunteer on National Public Lands Day to enjoy these places for yourself, while improving them for future visitors.”

The Forest Service offers six fee-free days in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day Weekend. Fees are waived generally for day use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads and destination visitor centers.  Fees are not waived for concessionaire-operated facilities or for overnight use such as camping or recreation rentals. Contact your local national forest to learn if your destination requires a fee and if that fee is waived.

In 2012, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,206 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, making it the largest participation in the event’s history. Those volunteers collected an estimated 500 tons of trash and 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted 100,000 trees and other plants and built or maintained 1,500 miles of trails.

Additionally, almost 108,000 volunteers and service members contributed 4.3 million hours or nearly 2,400 person years on critical projects on national forests, grasslands and prairies.  Their service was valued at close to $94 million.

Forest Service lands, which include 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, offer something for everyone, from the casual hiker to the thrill-seeking recreationist. There are also opportunities and programs for children, including the popular Discover the Forest and Junior Forest Ranger programs.


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Filed under Eco Issues, In YOUR Words, Things to Do

A First-Person Account of the Yarnell Hill Fire

Facebook photo courtesy of DeEtte Bennett Viterbo

Facebook photo courtesy of DeEtte Bennett Viterbo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cheryl Tupper and her husband, Gary Wallen, own the T-Bird Café in Peeples Valley. After the Yarnell Hill Fire devastated the area and claimed the lives of 19 firefighters, Tupper contacted Arizona Highways to share her account of the fire and its aftermath. Read her story here, and learn more about the T-Bird Café in our November issue.

June 30 is scarred into our minds and our communities. At 2 p.m., we were thinking we’d dodged the bullet, and that the small brush fire I could see out my front door would become nothing more than that. 2 a.m. found me awake, watching a line of the last of my neighbors leaving everything behind them, and praying for the 19 young men on the hill.

We’d heard about the radio call that they were deploying fire shields, and we’d held onto hope. “Please let these young men, these heroes, be all right … please!” cried my friend, shaking.

I was standing outside when the wind changed. It had been a slow, steady wind from the south, blowing the fire into the trap set for it: a break set up to protect the residential part of Peeples Valley. Then, all of a sudden, monsoon winds from the north drove the fire back toward Yarnell at speeds of up to 22 feet per second.

My stepson, whose house was one of the first to be destroyed, says his evacuation was the most stressful thing he’s ever been through. Trying to get his roommate’s freaked-out little dog into the car, he looked up and saw a wall of fire descending on his house. He and his roommates ran for their lives — embers falling on them, fumbling to start the car, neighbors all trying to navigate the smoke-filled, winding path out of Glen Ilah.

Next door, his older sister was getting their mother out. From her perspective, it was a ball of fire coming straight at them. They barely escaped, with singed hair and without the cat.

Then came a frantic call from our youngest, just graduated from high school. She hadn’t had time to get her dogs. She’d tried. She’d borrowed large carriers and had them all set out. But at the end, there hadn’t been time.

Later came the terrible news of the 19 fallen firefighters.

Our home and café were not in immediate danger, so we stayed behind with our next-door neighbors, veterinarians, to help out as we could. They helped care for displaced animals. We fed people until we ran out of food.

Red Cross and Christian and Buddhist relief workers offered immediate shelter and support; housewives collected and distributed donated goods; and everybody with a strong back helped fill the 30,000 sandbags we’ll need when monsoon rains hit our ravaged landscape.

As webmaster for our community website, I worked through those awful first days to transform the site into an emergency resource, so my far-flung community might find some common ground and know where to turn for help.

The communities of Yarnell, Glen Ilah and Peeples Valley (the Tri-Cities, we laughingly call them) will never be the same. According to the sheriff’s survey, the fire destroyed homes at 129 addresses in these tiny towns. But we have already started rebuilding. And while the community has been flung apart, it has also been brought together. My extended family here is now tighter than ever.

—Noah Austin, Associate Editor



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Filed under In YOUR Words

Celebrating Our Centennial: Thomas E. Sheridan Talks AZ History

Courtesy of University of Arizona Press

Just in time for Arizona’s Centennial, author, researcher and professor, Thomas E. Sheridan, has come out with a revised and expanded edition of his book, Arizona: A History. In this latest tome, Sheridan addresses contemporary issues like land use, water rights and suburban sprawl. A life-long resident of the state, he puts forth new ideas about what a history should be, while embracing a holistic view of the region.

Sheridan is a research anthropologist at the Southwest Center and a professor at the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He is also the author of 12 other books.

Below, Sheridan talks about his book, game-changers and how we’ve done as a state so far:

How does this history of Arizona compare to some of the other history books out there?
Arizona: A History
, Revised Edition, focuses on the major political and economic processes that have shaped Arizona for at least the last 12,000 years. In particular, I look at Arizona’s political ecology, especially the commodification of the Four C’s – cattle, copper, cotton and climate – during the past 150 years. As the introduction says, “This book interprets Arizona’s past by organizing it into three major phases – incorporation, extraction, and transformation – that mark Arizona’s integration into what Immanuel Wallerstein calls the modern world system… Arizona has never developed in isolation, not even during pre-Columbian times. Other cultures, other centers of power, and other economic and political demands have always shaped the people living here, and those demands have accelerated with each phase. As they have, relations of race, class, gender, and ethnic identity in Arizona have changed as well.”

How long have you been researching this book?
I spent about five years researching and writing the original edition, which came out in 1995.  I spent about a year revising the book. About a third of the revised edition is new material, including an entirely new chapter on “Arizona in the Twenty-First Century.”

What event was the most significant in terms of changing our history?
The Columbian Exchange – the global ecological revolution triggered by the collision of the so-called Old World of Europe, Asia, and Africa with the New World of the Americas beginning in 1492 – transformed the way people lived in Arizona along with the rest of the world.  Old World diseases like smallpox and measles, Old World animals like horses and cattle, Old World plants like winter wheat changed the way Native Americans in Arizona ate, fought, and died. Old World peoples like the Spaniards, Mexicans, and Anglo Americans changed the political and demographic dynamics. The Columbian Exchange continues to shape our lives as Arizonans today.

Who was one of the game changers in Arizona?
More than anyone else, President Teddy Roosevelt shaped the state we live in today. Roosevelt created the Reclamation Service, which built Roosevelt Dam. At the dam’s dedication in 1911, Roosevelt called it one of “two great achievements of his administration,” the other being the Panama Canal. Roosevelt Dam tamed the Salt River. Without it, there would have been no Salt River Project, no cotton boom, no metropolitan Phoenix, because the dam provided both irrigation water and hydroelectric power. In many respects, then, Roosevelt Dam gave birth to modern Phoenix.

Teddy Roosevelt also created the national forest system, withdrawing millions of acres of Arizona forests and desert from the public domain. Imagine rural Arizona without its national forests, and the national parks and monuments that came later. Because of Arizona’s federal lands, the state belongs to the American people as much as it does to those of us who live here.

Why is it so important for Arizonans to know our state’s history?
Most Arizonans are newcomers, not natives. In the words of the Preface, “The history of Arizona is not a linear progression from wilderness to civilization. Instead it is a series of advances and retreats, accommodations and blunders, booms and busts. Many peoples have lived here over the past twelve thousand years or more, but the overwhelming impression their history conveys is the transitory nature of human occupation in this arid land. That is why history is so important. The lessons of the past may not prevent mistakes in the future, but at least they can help us inhabit a particular landscape and learn a little about its mysteries, beauties, and cruelties. Otherwise, we are nothing more than carpetbaggers or tourists.”

We’re 100 years old…how do you think we’ve done so far?
People should read the book and decide that for themselves.


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Filed under Centennial, History, In YOUR Words

Celebrating Our Centennial: The 5 C’s on Canvas

Grand Canyon Weather

For the past two years, a pair of Arizona artists have been traversing the state, rendering the colorful vistas and history in paint through the 5 C’s: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate. Their efforts have resulted in a body of 100-plus paintings, which will be exhibited at several venues and on-line to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood.

Cotton Clouds, Cotton Field

The idea was conceived of by Becky Joy, who thought of it as a great vehicle for learning the history of, and exploring the state. A little while in to the project, she invited Christine Debrosky, who, as a fairly new resident welcomed the opportunity. Accomplished artists, both woman have garnered numerous awards and exhibited their work extensively across the United States.

Autumn Leap

We spoke to Christine about this traveling exhibit:

Why did you decide to do this?
As I’m sure you’re aware, the idea was Becky Joy’s initially, as a way to learn more about Arizona’s history, and a great excuse to explore the state, paintbrush in hand.

I was honored when she asked me to join her in the project. As a fairly new resident, I am seeing many of these places for the first time. Artists strive to view things with fresh eyes, and I am getting to do just that; a perfect opportunity.

What do you hope to accomplish with this traveling exhibit?
To bring an awareness of the “quirky beauty” that surrounds us here, as well as the awe-inspiring, pristine landscapes and climate that Arizona is famous for.

By that I mean there are numerous out-of- the way places that have a quiet beauty that resonates with the past. Where I live, in Clarkdale, which was one of the nation’s first planned communities, is a great example. It is like a “snapshot in time.”

Why should people pay attention care about the Centennial?
Learning about Arizona’s contribution to the economic history of the United States is an enriching experience. More importantly, it is an opportunity for Arizonans to show off all of the great things about our state, and why we choose to live here. We are all aware that lately we have been cast in a less tha flattering light in the national media. Let’s ignore that, and celebrate all that is good. It is our time to shine.

The public will have several opportunities for viewing this engaging exhibition: 40 will hang in ASU’s Gammage exhibition space Phoenix in May; 50 at the Manheim Gallery in Cottonwood mid-September to October; and selected works will hang at Windrush Gallery in Sedona, in 2013, where both artists are represented.

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Filed under Centennial, In YOUR Words, Loco for Local, Mother Nature

It’s a Double Rainbow Kinda Monday

Thanks Randy Routhier for submitting this gorgeous image of a double rainbow in Young, AZ… Happy Monday friends!

Image by Randy Routhier

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Filed under In YOUR Words, Photography

Memories… Misty Water-Colored Memories of Arizona

Image courtesy of Tom White

You never know what’ll pop up when you plug in “Arizona Highways” in Google… in this case, a blog post by Vicki Goodwin was the winning hit. Ms. Goodwin wrote about her grandmother’s stack of Arizona Highways that sat on her coffee table, and the pictures each issue painted in her mind about this far away place…  you see, Ms. Goodwin lived in Alabama.

I think we said it best in our August 2011, Best of AZ, issue: “People like to complain. About their jobs, their neighbors, their lot in life. People like to complain about Arizona, too. It’s too hot, it’s too dry, it’s too this, it’s too that. Admittedly, Arizona isn’t perfect — no place is. Nevertheless, there’s a lot that’s right with Arizona”

Thank you Ms. Goodwin for sharing your memories.

Revisiting the Arizona Highways

My grandmother, Mama Kate, always had copies of the magazine Arizona Highways on her coffee table and in her magazine racks. It was one of those magazines that you never tossed out. It was the magazine I could look through time and again. The sky was different than the ones we had back home in Alabama. The colors were more vivid and the clouds stood taller in the sky.

The one thing that always stood out to me was the Reds. The reds of the dirt, the red of the Grand Canyon and the reds of the sunsets. The towering white clouds edged in red, contrasting with the turquoise sky between. Now I realize they took the pictures of those tall massive clouds because they were rare.

In my mind that was Arizona. The Indian School on Indian School road. This was the place that my grandparents supported with financial donations all while I was growing up and we would receive little Indian dolls. This was the gift my grandmother received for her devotion to the little school that helped the Indian children learn English, math and science. As an adult I have learned that they were not all happy to be here, but my grandparents helped out of the goodness of their hearts and the faith in the beliefs of the times.

Again in my mind that was Arizona.

Today all that came flooding back when I saw a woman that had gotten out of her car on the side of the road and was taking pictures of the sky. The towering clouds with the little touches of turquoise between. Oh did I mention the reds. Because each white cloud had just the faintest hint of red and in my mind, I had just sat down on the floor with my back up against the cold marble coffee table with the Arizona Highways magazine.

Other than wishing I too could pull over on Indian School Road as that woman had, and watch the sunset melt into the ribbon of red that it would soon become I realized I am living my own copy of Mama Kate’s Arizona Highways magazine.

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