Flagstaff, AZ – Two of the state's largest utility companies cut off power to more than 11,000 Phoenix customers in June. That's 3,000 more cutoffs than June of 2008. Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service say hard economic times and higher rates led more customers to fall behind on their bills. Also, APS raised monthly rates by nearly 5 dollars in December and SRP raised its average bill by nearly the same in October.
Flagstaff, AZ – The Wild Horse Fire burning on the Williams Ranger District has grown to about 25 acres. The lightning-caused fire was reported on July 22nd, about 23 miles northeast of Williams and northwest of Kendrick Mountain. Fire managers decided the Wild Horse Fire could benefit the landscape and help meet resource objectives. Therefore, the fire is considered to be in "monitor status." Smoke may be visible from parts of I40 and HWY 180 today. Smoke may also impact outlying areas.
Flagstaff, AZ – A new wildfire forecast shows the risk of big fires decreased slightly in the northwestern part of the country, but increased slightly in the southwest. The map was produced by researchers for the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University and was based on climate models. The map shows a high potential for big fires in eastern Arizona, certain parts of Oregon, the western Sierras, and western Texas.
Flagstaff, AZ – A 200-acre ranch on the Agua Fria National Monument has been saved from going to public auction. Two days before the ranch was to be put on the auction block, the trust for the public land stepped in to complete a deal to save the land from potential development. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is trying to get federal acquisition money through the land and water conservation act in order to buy the ranch. The deal could come through as early as next year.
Flagstaff, AZ – The Colorado River near Yuma is becoming overrun with garbage. Sheriff's deputies who patrol the waterway say people are leaving behind large amounts of trash, including soda and beer cans, bottles, diapers, strollers, and folding chairs. Officials say it's becoming more common to see piles of trash from Laguna Dam to the Morelos Dam. They say many of the trash piles are sitting right next to garbage cans. Officials also say that after the 4th of July weekend, the Colorado River was practically "riddled with cans."
Flagstaff, AZ – Betting sports may be one way to dig the state out of its deficit woes. Horse and dog track operators around the state are vying to add table games and slots to their businesses. In exchange, track owners say they'll cut the state in on 45% of the take. A study conducted by the tracks says that figure could amount to more than $200 million in the current budget year. That's assuming tracks could install slot machines and table games within a few months.
Flagstaff, AZ – A Navajo grassroots group has announced its intent to sue the tribal government over what it claims is excess and illegal spending. Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker reports.
The lawsuit specifically targets a million and a half dollars that was appropriated by the Navajo Nation Council in April. But it's also intended to block other unrestrained, discretionary spending authorized by the council. Attorney Jim Zion filed the intent to sue.
Flagstaff, AZ – A Utah Judge has rejected a proposed settlement that would have returned control of a state-managed land trust back to followers of polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs. The United Effort Plan Trust was formed in 1942 to hold the collective assets of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Utah courts took control of the trust in 2005 after allegations of mismanagement. Utah's Attorney General proposed a settlement giving the majority of trust assets back to the church while setting aside some properties for former church members.
Flagstaff, AZ – Residents of Tusayan, just outside the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, will have another chance to incorporate if a lawsuit fails to block a November vote. The question of incorporation went before voters last year and was defeated by a 16-vote margin. Supporters say incorporation would give Tusayan residents a stake in their community and an opportunity to control local issues. Critics say incorporation would promote unbridled growth and create a town council that would be unable to steer clear of conflicts of interest.
Flagstaff, AZ – All campfire and smoking restrictions will be lifted today on the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest and the Verde Ranger District of the Prescott National Forest. Managers say monsoon activity has created enough moisture to lower the risk of fire danger. Though fire restrictions will be lifted, forest managers remind the public to use caution with fire in the National Forests. They say fires should be built in existing fire rings and campers should avoid starting fires during windy conditions.