Verde Heritage 1969: Petition to Save the Cottonwoods, Part 2
"COTTONWOOD CUTTING STOPPED"
"The Salt River Project has ended its cottonwood cutting project along the Verde River and its tributaries, 'for the present,' and will clean up debris and logs left from the cutting where land owners will allow access for that purpose, it was announced Thursday after a meeting of a Verde Valley delegation with Governor Jack Williams."
"A SRP spokesman told The Verde Independent Monday that the tree cutting has been completed, 'on all of the private land whose owners are inclined to cooperate in this type of program.'"
"He also said the SRP has no arrangements to cut on U. S. Forest Service land and that the forest service is conducting an independent study to determine the long range effects of the tree cutting."
"The Valley delegation was headed by Mrs. J. H. Schilleman, of Camp Verde, who presented the governor with pictures of the havoc the tree cutting project has wrought, petitions signed by hundreds of persons throughout the state, and personal letters from residents along the river protesting the tree cutting."
"'Governor, we just don't think the tree cutting project is fair to our beautiful Valley. It has ruined many of our recreational facilities along the river, and we don't understand why our trees have to be sacrificed to save water, when there are so many other ways to do it,' Mrs. Schilleman said in her opening remarks."
"'The cutting has damaged the beauty of our area, is a real threat to our wildlife along the streams, and has resulted in increased flood damage. This is worth much more to us than the water they will save by cutting the trees,' Mrs. Schilleman continued."
"The governor carefully looked over the pictures and documents and said he had contacted the SRP some time ago and was told the project was concerned with the results of the tree cutting and would work with land owners."
"The original tree cutting contract of the SRP provided that the project would cut the trees the land owners wanted cut if they would dispose of the trees and debris."
"Land owners have found that it is practically impossible to burn green cottonwood, and flood waters have carried many of the cut trees down stream creating serious flood hazards."
"SRP officials say the reduction of trees along the streams will produce additional water for the Salt River Valley. The amount of water ranges from 600 acre feet a year to 2,000, depending on the official."
"Mrs. Schilleman said she would have many more petitions to present to the governor, but many of them mysteriously disappeared from Camp Verde businesses just before she was to pick them up."
"She reported a sudden information stoppage from the Arizona Fish and Game Department after stories about the concern of employees of the department, and their pictures appeared in The Verde Independent."
"'Suddenly I was told by the department that they could give no further information to me, but would provide it to the governor if he requested it,' Mrs. Schilleman said."
"A Phoenix television station, KOOL, also suddenly lost enthusiasm for covering the story, Mrs. Schilleman said. 'They interviewed me on the radio, and said they wanted a television crew to cover the story, but every time I tried to contact the news director after this he was always out of the office, and I haven't heard another word from them,' she continued."
"In a joint statement Monday the SRP and the Arizona Game and Fish Department said, 'The SRP and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will cooperate in an evaluation to determine the long-range ecological effects of the project's water conservation program conducted during the past 4 years on portions of the Verde River. This decision to cooperate on such a study resulted from discussions between the project and the game and fish department. In addition SRP offered to inform the department of the scope and details of similar programs which might be developed in the future, so that the department can make recommendations in the interest of fish and wildlife management.'"
"Appearing before the governor with the Verde Valley delegation were Dr. Roy Johnson, of Prescott College, and Steve Caruthers, of the Museum of Northern Arizona, at Flagstaff. Others in the Valley delegation were Mrs. Clare Redding, of Camp Verde, Mrs. Marion Brock, Mrs. Maribelle Riordan, and Bill Cameron, of Cottonwood."
(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, August 14, 1969; pages 1 and 17.)
"COMMISSION URGES TREE CUTTING BAN"
"A halt to the steam side cutting of trees along the Verde, Salt and Gila Rivers, was called for in a resolution adopted by the Governor's Commission on Arizona Beauty meeting in Flagstaff Friday."
"The resolution asks that the cutting be discontinued until the controversial water salvage projects can be studied."
"There was no audible dissent to the resolution from the 45 members attending the meeting."
"The commission's recommendations will go to Governor Jack Williams, who last week met with a Verde Valley delegation that opposed cutting cottonwood trees along the Verde River."
"Bud Bristow, land and water project supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said all major streams in Arizona are involved in some way in attempts to remove the trees."
"Among speakers at the meeting was Phillip Clemmens, of the Salt River Project, who said, 'Our prime objective is water salvage and making as much water available as possible for our share-holders in the (Salt River) Valley.'"
"He continued, 'There is room for consideration to evaluate the programs through discussion. Certainly there were some errors in the program in the Verde Valley.'"
"Among SRP representatives at the meeting was Robert E. Moore, manager of irrigation of the water users association, who said work in the Verde Valley by the project is completed for 1969, but 'there is a longer term project.' He said he did not know what work was planned in the Verde Valley in 1970."
"'This is water salvage, pure and simple. There is no land being put into use and no planting being done,' Moore said."
"The Camp Verde woman who is leading the Verde Valley campaign to save the cottonwoods along the Verde River, Mrs. J. H. Schilleman, was also a speaker before the commission, and said, 'I don't feel it is justified for us to sacrifice our beautiful trees for water to be used in Phoenix for watering golf courses and back yards.'"
"'When they cut a tree in Phoenix, they plant 5. When they cut a tree in Camp Verde, they plant 5 in Phoenix,' she said."
"Heavy thinning of trees in the Verde Valley, 'has a drastic effect' on birds, said Steven W. Carothers, Director of Zoology for the Museum of Northern Arizona, at Flagstaff."
"Carothers said he conducted 3 surveys in the Valley and found areas with heavy thinning had a third as many nesting birds as areas that were untouched. Nesting mourning doves disappeared completely from the heavily thinned areas that were surveyed, he said."
(The Verde Independent; Thursday, August 21, 1969; pages 1 and 4.)