This little town dates back to the 1800’s and is a gold mine of history of the Old West. Most everyone has seen the various versions of movies made about the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Many a legend was created in Tombstone including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and many others.
Some of the original old wooden buildings still stand in the historic downtown area, although I suspect they have been rebuilt numerous times over the years. There are actors who stage daily reenactments of some of the more famous gunfights that supposedly took place in Tombstone. This town is fun and interesting to visit for young and old alike. Tombstone just happens to be one of my favorite places.
Approximately two years ago, a series of wildfires burned most of the vegetation in the area containing the natural springs that are the main source of water for the entire town. With very little vegetation to slow the rapid runoff, Monsoon rains caused severe flooding. These floods destroyed the aquifer, which delivered this spring water to the town. In some areas the large pipes are completely uncovered and hanging suspended in the air. Other parts of the pipe are crushed and buried under tons of dirt and boulders the size of automobiles.
This water supply has been the main source of water for Tombstone for over 130 years. It is told that Wyatt Earp and his brothers were involved in discovering this water source, and helped with the construction of the aquifers. When the town prepared to begin repairs on the damaged aquifers, they were stopped in their tracks by none other than the US Forest Service. The people assigned to do the repair work on the aquifer were told by the Forest Service they could not use any mechanized equipment to aid in the repairs. They were instructed they could only use picks and shovels, and perhaps mules to accomplish this monumental task.
On one occasion, a work crew attempted to take a wheelbarrow onto the job site resulting in a seven hour standoff between the workers and the Forest Service personnel. There were some very angry people on both sides, but no blood was shed, and it was finally ruled that the wheelbarrow could be used on the site. Realizing it was nearly impossible to repair and replace these pipes with only hand tools, the town demanded the US Forest Service tell them specifically what plant or animal would be threatened by the use of mechanized equipment. They are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to protect whatever it is the Forest Service is so concerned about, if the Forest Service would just tell them what it was.
The Forest Service then demanded the town pay the $80,000 for copies of the documents that would identify the species of plant or animal they are concerned about. Our own Governor, Jan Brewer, declared a state of emergency hoping this would force the US Forest Service to be more reasonable. She was told that only the President could grant an exception to their rules. If you recall the photos of Jan Brewer shaking her finger in the Presidents face at the airport in Phoenix, you can bet that exception will be a long time coming. Between the finger in the face episode, and Arizona’s attempt with SB-1070 to do something about illegal immigration that is pretty much being ignored by the Feds, this was a good opportunity for this administration to get even with Arizona. So they did! And they still are. Payback really is a “_itch” if done properly. Being able to deny an entire Arizona town adequate water is the ultimate payback.
The Goldwater Foundation has since lent their support with funding and lawyers to the town of Tombstone. They too were told it would cost them $80,000 for copies of the documents needed to identify the exact species of plant or animal preventing the town from making the much needed repairs.
Now keep in mind that a large part of the State of Arizona, and many other states, is declared to be Federal property. To me that would mean this land is really owned by the citizens of this country not the Federal Government that really should never own anything. With help from the Goldwater Foundation, the US Forest Service finally divulged that it was the “Mexican Spotted Owl” at the root of their concerns. Yep, a relative of the same bird who was able to completely shut down logging in the Pacific Northwest costing hundreds of people their jobs, is now preventing Tombstone from repairing their damaged aquifers.
When the Forest Service was told that not a single resident of the community has ever seen a Mexican Spotted Owl anywhere in the area, they still won’t budge. It now seems that in their opinion this specific location would be an “ideal habitat” for this Mexican Spotted Owl, if one ever decided to move to town. Yep, this Mexican Spotted Owl would pick this area where all the trees, grass, and shrubs were completely burned away just two years ago for his new home. Now in my mind, this doesn’t make this owl a particularly bright bird. Nor do we know which side of the border this Owl was actually hatched on. Heck, it could be from Mexico, here without legal documentation.
You ever notice how edicts can come down from Federal Agencies without ever naming the person who made the decision? The US Forest Service is a government agency incapable of making a decision; it is the people who work for this type government agency who make the decisions. Yet it is rare that an agency employee steps forward and states; “I Rodney Dolittle, have decided the residents of Tombstone, Arizona will not be allowed to repair their much needed water aquifers. I am protecting that rare Mexican Spotted Owl who may one day choose to relocate to this area of Arizona.”
Sadly, if the government decided to build a new building at the summit of this mountain where these springs are located, they would rip and tear roads all the way to the very top using gigantic mechanized equipment. Beautiful old growth trees would be demolished in the process of building the new building, and nobody would be worrying about this stupid Mexican Spotted Owl. It is strictly “Do as I say, not as I do” policy.
Having been a resident of the State of Arizona for over 60 years, I resent this “get even” tactic being used by this administration against our State. At risk is the entire historic downtown area with wooden buildings, many which share a common wall. The fire department would not have the water necessary to battle a large blaze because of this ruling by the US Forest Service, or the still unnamed employee of the US Forest Service. Over 200 years of history would go up in flames, and thousands of people would never again enjoy walking on the same streets as many of the legendary gun fighters who once lived in this town. To stand at the bar in the Crystal Palace Saloon enjoying a cold beverage, and knowing that perhaps Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday once stood in this very place is fun for me.
If you have ever been unfortunate enough to live in a house that has been declared “Historical,” you know you can hardly even wash the windows without permission from the local Historical Society. Yet, the Federal Government is risking the entire downtown area of Tombstone, Arizona, and the residents, to protect a bird that has never been seen anywhere in the area? I don’t know about you, but this makes no sense at all to me.
The health and safety of the residents of this little town are also at risk. If this issue is not resolved by the current lawsuits and court battles, it would not surprise me to see a citizen uprising that could well result in the death or injury of many innocent people. The one thing we can’t live without is water, and all they want is the water that rightfully belongs to them.
I never dreamed I would see anything like this taking place in my lifetime, but here it is. Perhaps the town of Tombstone is not “The Town to Tough to Die.” That statement was made long before our government became the power hungry insane monster it is today.
© Copyright Mike Blue/The Old Poolman
Bio of Mike Blue (The Old Poolman)
Let me begin by making it clear that I am not an established writer. I am just an old guy who many years ago learned how to type in high school, and have some things to say. I am not from Texas, but please don’t hold that against me. I have lived in Arizona for over 60 years, and as you know, Arizona is darn close to Texas when you look at a map.
I have been married to the same beautiful lady for nearly 48 years, raised 4 successful children, and enjoy 7 grandchildren.
I served a hitch in the US Army, and have had a number of different occupations including 25 years in the corporate environment. I have owned and operated a number of small businesses, and prefer working for myself. My last venture was a swimming pool service and repair company I ran for over 20 years. Thus the nickname “The Old Poolman.” I much prefer being in control of my own destiny.
Having passed my 75th birthday, I have done a whole lot of living in my lifetime. I have seen a lot of places, and done a lot of things. Some were fun and some were not. I was blessed, or cursed depending on your point of view, with a very logical mind. When I see things, or read about things that defy logic, those things make me want to write.
I was lucky and grew up in the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Sadly, this great nation has undergone massive changes over the years, and is rapidly disappearing before our very eyes.
I mainly write about those issues that defy all logic and those illogical issues happening daily are giving me plenty of material for writing opportunities.
Politically, I am somewhat conservative, but walk a line somewhere between the left and the right. I don’t totally agree or disagree with everything from either party. You may not always agree with the things that I have to say. You are entitled to your own opinion, as I am entitled to mine. When presented with new facts, I have had to change a few of my own opinions from time to time.
I greatly appreciate this chance to publish something I wrote on a quality website like “Carol’s Piece of Mind.“ This is a dream come true, and just one more thing I can check off my Bucket List.”
A big “Thank You” to Carol for allowing me this opportunity.