<CENTER><B>Letters to the Editor</B></CENTER>
Sojourner Truth example of women who shaped nation
Black History Month (February) may be past, and Women's History Month (March) is almost well, history, but there's still time to make amends. How about a passionate, inspiring, sometimes funny story about a freed New York lady slave by the name of Sojourner Truth? (Sojo-wha'?)
The unusual name she gave herself after a life-transforming experience. As a slave, after all, she changed her name as often as she changed hands, and had to grapple with her identity. Some samples:
At one anti-slavery meeting, a clergyman interrupted her speech, saying he was afraid that God would strike him down for listening to such 'blasphemy.' "Don't be scared. I don't expect God has ever heard of you!" Ms. Truth retorted.
Speaking of another abolitionist speaker, she said; "I'll tell you what Thompson is going to say to you. He is going to argue that the poor Negroes ought to be out of slavery and in the heavenly state of freedom. But children, I'm against slavery because I want to keep the white folks who hold slaves from getting sent to hell."
Unable to read or write, she had this penned of her by one of her contemporaries, "She will often speak with an ability which surprises the educated and refined. She possesses a mind of rare power, and often, in the course of her short speeches, will throw out gems of thought. But the truly Christian spirit which pervades all she says endears her to all who know her. Though she has suffered all the ills of slavery, she forgives all who have wronged her most freely..."
For an enriching experience, see "Sojourner Truth, American Abolitionist," by W. Terry Whalin, Barbour Publishing.
It should be no surprise that user fees in our forests have been increased. Think that was fast? Wait and see what happens if we allow this extortive program to become law. Or better, lets work together to stop it.
An article in the Oregonian (1/9/2000) stated that USFS recreation specialists have recently said..." it is critical that people accept the new system, if too many people complain or refuse to buy the passes, the agency's ability to charge for general use could be jeopardized."
How to battle this affront to the very concept of Public Lands and our American heritage? Resist. Boycott the fees. This is of paramount importance in the next 6-9 months.
Repeatedly the USFS has been ruled against in Federal court, or simply dropped charges when people refused to pay the fee. What the USFS forgets is that this "test" is supposedly discretionary, testing whether or not we are willing to pay, not to bully us into paying., Personally, I deeply resent being intimidated and called a "customer" by public servants on land we the people own.
This is an election year. Remember, fees become possible due to the larceny which apparently thrives in the hearts of some many of our Congresspersons and so-called Representatives. Fees are primarily a Republican supported idea, (there are notable exceptions). Learn who supports the fees and vote accordingly. Presidential candidate George Bush is an avid supporter of user fees and privatization of public lands. For these folks it's time to pay the piper.
Contact the USFS and Congressional representatives, tell them what you think and how you'll vote. Write letters to the editor. When you park your car to stroll or hike, be daring - go passless.
FREE THE FORESTS
I was shocked when I recently learned that there is a bill which is apparently going to pass through the Arizona State Legislature which will give our judges a 17.5% pay increase form $113,000 to $136,597! Have our legislators lost their minds?
It seems like every week there is a story in news about how low wages are in Arizona, or how huge the gap is between rich and poor in Arizona, or how one-forth of the people in Arizona don't even have health insurance.
The working people of our state are losing ground against inflation, not to mention our retired people. Who do these judges think they are? As I recall, they just got a fat increase two years ago.
Everyone should call their legislator and demand that this unbelievable increase be stopped before it's too late. The legislative session is expected to end very soon.
Many Letters to the Editor take the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) to task regarding Young's Farm. Has ADWR received a fair shake in this matter?
In 1994 the Arizona Legislature mandated that ADWR's "management goal" for Prescott Active Management Area (AMA) was to bring about a water "safe yield by January 1, 2025..." By law, "safe yield" means achieving and maintaining a long-term balance between the annual amount of ground water withdrawn in the Prescott AMA and the annual amount of natural and artificial replacing of ground water. In January 1999, ADWR concluded the Prescott AMA was pumping out more ground water than was being replaced, the water table was dropping, and the AMA was no longer in "safe yield."
Apparently ADWR was not a "do-nothing" agency. Its marching orders were to bring about a safe yield. It concluded one way to satisfy this legislative directive was to enforce a rule whereby the Young and some five other working farms (approximately 600 acres) would lose 4% a year of their "paper" development water rights beginning in Year 2000 unless, in essence, they sold to an (ugh) developer. Contrary to popular belief, the Young's have not lost their right to perpetually farm.
Research shows that farms in the Prescott AMA use 3.5 to 3.7 acre feet (a.f.) of water (an "acre foot of water" is an acre of water one foot deep) per year, per acre, or over 1.2 million gallons of water. On two acres that would be 2.4 million gallons per year. Conversely, a single household on two acres (the ratio of houses-to-acres on Young's Farm, according to current Yavapai County zoning laws) would use 1/3 a.f. or approximately 110,000 gallons per year. The difference in water saved is approximately 2.3 million gallons or 7.05 a.f. for the two-acre parcel. If Young's Farm is 150 acres, that equates to 528 a.f. per year (75 two-acre parcels x 7.05 a.f. = 528 acre feet). By enforcing the 4% Rule, ADWR was simply tying to find another way to cut down on the high-volume use of irrigation water. Thus, blaming ADWR for the Young's Farm situation isn't fair.
Having said this, there are reasons for giving these farmers relief. If they farm, they will be using the larger quantities of irrigation water noted above. Overall, the 4% per year reduction in the development rights may have limited significance. Some wells in Dewey recently showed higher levels than in the past. Studies regarding these ground waters are underway. A suspension of the 4% Rule by legislation or an amendment to the existing Rule for a three-to-five-year period is warranted. After the pending studies are complete, better decisions can be made.