Thank you for your letter and inquiry regarding the Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council and actions taken by the Forest Service to restrict use of fire during a recent ceremony held by the Council.
The Coconino National Forest became aware of the July 4-7 ceremony several months beforehand, and immediately began working with Shawn Mulford, the key organizer of the ceremony, to coordinate logistics and possible times and locations for the ceremony.
Upon arriving, Mr. Mulford insisted on a specific location, which was located in an area that was associated with the Schultz Fire and closed in June 2011 due to a large buildup of hazardous fuels and increased threat of a wildfire.
As is the normal protocol for any person or group desiring to camp in a closed area, the Coconino National Forest worked with Mr. Mulford to develop a Special Use Permit that would allow them to camp in the closed area for their ceremony. Mr. Mulford refused to sign the permit, so no permit was actually issued.
Due to extreme fire danger and dry forest conditions, many national forests in the southwest, and also tribal lands, entered Stage 2 Fire Restrictions in June (Stage 2 is an increased level of restrictions due to extremely dry conditions that prohibit fire of any kind across the forest, as the smallest spark or ember in such conditions can create a wildfire).
Knowing of the importance of the ceremony, the Forest Service notified Mr. Mulford in June of the restrictions, and numerous attempts were made by the Forest Service to work with Mr. Mulford to accommodate the Council’s ceremony and offer alternate locations and times—in a place and during a time when extreme fire danger and threat to the surrounding community was not a concern. Mr. Mulford resisted any offers and maintained that the ceremony must be held at the closed location and that fire be allowed.
When told that he could not have a fire, Mr. Mulford refused to notify the rest of the Council of the fire restriction and insisted that the Forest Supervisor notify the Council in person when they gathered for the ceremony. The Forest Supervisor did meet with the Council and notify them of the fire restrictions and reasons for such, also delivering a copy of the Closure Order and Fire Restrictions, once again offering to work toward an alternate location where perhaps the fire might not be a threat.
For weeks, and even for the first two days of the ceremony, the Forest Service tried to engage in discussions, requesting that the Council follow current fire restrictions for the safety of the community, as there was a current 7,600-acre wildfire in the southern part of the national forest and conditions were still extremely dangerous. Mr. Mulford and the Council insisted on maintaining a fire, and since all offers were refused, the Forest Service had no choice but to extinguish the fire and issue a citation to Mr. Mulford.
We respect and honor the Council’s desire to hold their ceremony as well as their cultural and religious rights, and we have worked to try to find an alternate location and time for the ceremony since it includes fire during a time of extreme fire danger and fire restrictions to the public.
In addition, there have been multiple ceremonies held by different tribes in the last couple of months that the Forest Service has worked closely with who have refrained from using fire due to the extreme danger.
We must often make tough decisions such as closing an area to any camping and fire and understand this is a difficult decision for the Council to accept. However, the protection of the Coconino National Forest and public health and safety is our goal. We are duty bound to protect and preserve our country’s forest and the communities that live in and around it.
Craig J. Johnson, M.A.
Tribal Relations Specialist / Archaeologist
Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office
1824 South Thompson Street
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
chulavista wrote:beterarcher wrote:.......PUMPKIN EXCRETION.
beterarcher wrote:chulavista wrote:beterarcher wrote:.......PUMPKIN EXCRETION.
seemed to be the acceptable wording on this site for things one doesn't like
Alston Neal wrote:
Pumkins In Moccasins
Alston Neal wrote:Thanks for your concern, healing good, uglier than sin.
I'll send a PM to our place.
Now if only Joe would let me put a link in my Sig, I could do a kickback to HAZ, or Joe's PayPal account....
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