Wally Covington and Public Works Facility

Dr. Wally Covington with the Board of Supervisors

Dr. Wally Covington was honored for his career in forest health research and advocacy for reducing fire risk in forest through fuels thinning and prescription burning at the Dec 17, 2019, Coconino County Board of Supervisors meeting. Dr. Covington began the Ecological Research Institute at the NAU School of Forestry, a program that compared pre-settlement Ponderosa Pine forest structure with today’s forests. He and his students found that early forests had more open land with grasses and larger trees than today. Fire crawled across the early forest floor every 2-10 years and reduced the fuel load such that minor fires scorched tree bases but rarely caused catastrophic wildfires as we see today.

In his career, Dr. Covington created one of the pre-eminent forestry programs, documented how forest thinning led to healthier forest and then shared his research with the US Forest Service, U.S. Congress and innumerable conferences on forest health and fire ecology. His pioneering work was recognized by the County Board of Supervisors who declared that, in honor of his retirement, Dec 16 -22 would be called “Wally Covington week”.  The Board presented him with a certificate of appreciation acknowledging his accomplishments.  (See photo.) I instructed students in my Environmental Science classes at CCC about his research and persistent calling for fuels reduction in the forest, efforts that in part led to the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4-FRI) in Arizona’s forest within the US Forest Service.

After a lunch break, the Board of Supervisors reconvened at the Public Works facility. A lot of the day-to-day “hands-on” labor that needs to be done, such as road repair, snowplowing, and maintaining the fleet of country vehicles, happens in this facility. This building was constructed in 1960s, reconfigured in 1980s and has since gone through numerous “fix or repair” sessions. Public Works Director Lucinda Andreani and her staff took the Board of Supervisors and other attendees on a tour of the facility and shared concerns about potential safety issues, needed repairs and outdated structures. The Board unanimously agreed that the facility needs a major overhaul and directed the staff to move to the next level of preparing plans and costs estimates for renovating the facility to serve another 40 years or through 2060.

Given that money is the force that drives all things, the Board then dove into the Public Health Budget for FY2021.  The diligent county staff had prepared a budget history of the previous four years and budget projections for the next four years.   In FY 2021, there is currently a projected shortfall in funds needed for public health; however, with planning, the staff anticipates that the needed funds in well be available from savings in different county programs and the General Fund.

When I witnessed the County Board of Supervisors and the County staff working together, honoring Wally Covington, and grappling with next year’s budget, I realized that I have both the skills and the passion to dig in and do the work that is necessary to be an efficient and effective County Supervisor. I cordially request your help in electing me to County Supervisor so I can best serve you and our entire county.  Please go to my front-page and make a donation so I can be successful in defeating Mr. Bob Thorpe, my challenger.

Thank You for your support, and don’t forget to contribute.

Sincerely, Bryan Bates.