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Verde Heritage 1969: Petition to Save the Cottonwoods, Part 1

"Circulation of petitions will start today [July 3] asking Governor Jack Williams to stop the needless destruction and cutting of the trees in the Verde Valley by the Salt River Project and private owners."

"Heading the petition drive is Mrs. J. H. Schilleman, of Camp Verde, who said she, "had been told by a lot of people to mind my own business, but I knew I had to do something."

"In a letter to the editor of The Verde Independent, Mrs. Schilleman said she is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Pickett, who moved to Arizona in the 1920's and taught their 7 children to love and appreciate the beauty of our land, "'not to destroy or cut a tree unless to build a cabin or clear a field, or use it for fire wood.'"

"'They spent years to build and preserve the beauty and freedom of this land. This is why I feel I must fight to preserve the beauty of our Verde Valley. This is why the needless destruction and cutting of our lovely trees must be stopped,' Mrs. Schilleman said."

"She continued, 'In Phoenix there are hundreds of people working to beautify our state. Every day hundreds of trees are planted. Hundreds of gallons of water are used for plants along the Black Canyon Highway to beautify it. Hundreds of gallons of water pour through car washes every hour. There are beautiful fountains in front of banks and insurance offices. We see irrigation overflow and run down the gutters. We see backyard swimming pools filled and refilled as long as there is money to pay for it.'"

"'This is why to us in the Verde Valley there is no water shortage in Phoenix that would justify the Salt River Project moving into our valley and cutting our trees to save a few feet of water, destroy the natural beauty and kill our wildlife.'"

"'We can not let this happen. After they take our trees they will take our water.'"

"'To the man who said, "Go back where you belong," I can only say I am where I belong and I have no intention of leaving.'"

"'I will continue to fight to save our valley,' Mrs. Schilleman said."

"Valley residents who would like to help with the petition drive are asked to contact Mrs. Schilleman ... in Camp Verde."

(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, July 3, 1969; page 1.)

"PETITION DRIVE FOR COTTONWOODS GOING GREAT GUNS."

"Response to a drive to petition Governor Jack Williams to halt the cutting of cottonwood trees along the Verde River by the Salt River Project has been overwhelming, according to Mrs. J. H. Schilleman, of Camp Verde, who organized it."

"Mrs. Schilleman said she has personally delivered 150 petitions, and mailed an additional 100 to persons throughout the state. 'If they all get signed and returned, we are in business,' she said."

"An appointment to see Governor Williams has been arranged for August 7, and at this time Mrs. Schilleman will present the petitions. 'I would appreciate having all the petitions returned by July 31,' she said."

"Verde Valley residents are not the only ones in Arizona who are upset over vegetation removal plans. During the week, residents of the Globe-Miami area filed suits to restrain aerial spraying of herbicides to 'remove unwanted vegetation on U. S. Forest Service lands.' Residents of the area claim spraying is killing gardens and fruit trees in the name of water savings and phreatophyte control."

"In her original statement, Mrs. Schilleman said the cottonwood cutting program, 'destroys natural beauty and kills our wildlife.'"

"According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, investigations by Dave Brown, small game supervisor for the agency, confirmed the habitat loss this week in a trip through the Verde Valley. Brown said in some cases the clearing is only thinning, however, the process of thinning is in effect creating a situation which is leading to total clearing of streamside wildlife habitat."

"'Beavers working on the few remaining trees are finishing the job,' said Brown. 'Plus, in the areas that have been clear-cut, the trees have been left lying. Heavy rains and flood waters this past winter have carried the cut logs into remaining vegetation, ripping out more trees and causing rampant erosion to start all along the Verde River channel.'"

"'Log jams are starting in certain areas. These jams are forcing water into fields and underneath the jams, creating deep holes which are undermining tree roots, causing more tree toppling and death,' Brown said."

"'What is happening in the Verde Valley is a complete opposite from what we were told.' said an irate citizen who wished to remain un-named. 'We were told the clearing was for flood control, and they have created everything but control. They have left the cut trees lying where they fell, and they don't want to burn them in any great number because of air pollution laws.'"

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, July 17, 1969; page 1.)

"LIKE COTTONWOODS? WRITE THE GOVERNOR."

"Valley residents interested in saving cottonwood trees along the Verde from destruction by the Salt River Project are asked to write a post card to Governor Jack Williams by August 6."

"'All you have to say is, "Save Our Trees," and sign your name,' said Mrs. J. H. Schilleman, of Camp Verde, who will meet with the governor August 7 and present petitions to him signed by residents throughout Arizona who are interested in saving the cottonwoods."

"Mrs. Schilleman told The Verde Independent this week that she is even more disturbed about the tree cutting project after meeting with representatives of the Arizona Game and Fish Department during the week."

"'I understand tree cutting projects are planned throughout the state,' Mrs. Schilleman said. 'To cut and bulldoze trees that are so precious to a desert land such as ours is the most disgraceful thing I have ever heard of. This is not just our problem, but the problem and responsibility of every man, woman and child in our state. We must band together and stop this once and for all.'"

"Mrs. Schilleman expressed appreciation to the many people who have helped her with the project. All petitions should be in her hands by July 31 so she can present them in person to the governor."

(The Verde Independent; Thursday, July 24, 1969; page 1.)

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