More than the lives and properties of Tombstone, Ariz. residents and tourists are at stake in the historic town’s ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Forest Service to restore its water infrastructure. Arizona’s wildfire season is now underway with numerous dangerous wildfires being reported across the state. Tombstone is under contract with the Arizona State Forester to deliver water for suppressing wildfires; but that contract cannot be reliably fulfilled so long as the Forest Service blocks emergency repairs to Tombstone’s Huachuca Mountain water supply.
The Arizona State Forester often supplies the U.S. Forest Service with needed water and equipment to fight fires on federal land. So, the irony is that in refusing to yield to Governor Brewer’s declared State of Emergency authorizing Tombstone to restore its water supply, the U.S. Forest Service may find itself without the water it needs to fight wildfires this fire season. The federal government’s violation of state sovereignty on a local scale now has statewide dimensions.
This latest turn of events shows the importance of vindicating the Tenth Amendment’s protection of decentralized control over essentially local matters. When state and local governments are denied authority to respond quickly to local emergencies—which is what they are best at—inevitably larger interests will be threatened as well. Nothing good can result when the federal government presumes to command and control state and local government from Washington, D.C.
Americans must stand with Tombstone before federal intransigence and incompetence generates the next Katrina. If Tombstone prevails, we will all be a whole lot safer.
Arizona State Forester: Cooperative Fire Protection Agreements (PDF)
Arizona State Forestry: Wildfire Risk Map
Christian Science Monitor: Arizona wildfires: Five fires mark start of 2012 wildfire season
East Valley Tribune: Governor signs action plan to arm Arizona against wildfire threat