Ralph Benko

Welcome to the Wild West, 2012 style. The Feds to Tombstone: “If you want to fix your water line, better lawyer up and talk to President Obama.”

The left is attacking Mitt Romney as “out of touch.” But the left’s own champion, President Obama, is truly the out of touch candidate. The U.S. Forest Service — of which the president is ultimate boss — is preventing, on the flimsiest of excuses, Tombstone Arizona from rebuilding its water pipeline. Obama, conniving, is putting Tombstone, a fixture of American history, in mortal danger.

Tombstone was the site of the “Showdown at the OK Corral.” It was a silver mining boomtown and very Wild West: over a dozen saloons, 6 gambling halls, a very cosmopolitan city. Today Tombstone is a cultural attraction with 1500 residents and tens of thousands of visitors.

But now the U.S. Forest Service is building a tomb for Tombstone. A massive forest fire in 2011 wiped out the vegetation in Coronado National Park, wherein lies Tombstone’s waterworks — which were destroyed by the following torrential rains.

“I sat on the road in my car and watched the fire,” recalls Nancy Sosa, Tombstone native, its archivist, mother of five. “My kids and I were between Tombstone and Sierra Vista, about 26 miles away from the fire, watching in shock. You don’t grow up in Tombstone not knowing where your water comes from. Water is the most precious thing in the desert.”

The ensuing monsoon damage was severe but readily fixable. Except that Tombstone’s water sources are surrounded by a designated wilderness area. Their water was privately owned and therefore exempted by President Teddy Roosevelt from national forest status … and, thus, exempted from the Wilderness Act. That Act applies only to national forest, not private property. And yet, the U.S. Forest service takes the position that Tombstone needs its permission to bring in tractors and bulldozers to clear the rubble throttling its water supplies.

Tombstone cannot survive long on the tiny wells located in town or on the small amount of water it temporarily was able to hand patch through its water main. It needs to use regular earth-moving equipment to repair its lines. As Sosa explains, “you have boulders the size of motorcycles breaking your pipeline, and other boulders and uprooted trees mangling it… the water is buried by 6 to 15 feet of boulders, trees, rocks.”


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.
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