|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 02 April 2008 12:39|
Camp Verde’s long-time residents will certainly remember the flood of 1993, when the Verde River and nearby creeks swelled to dangerous levels.
While the flood may be out of sight and out of mind for most people these days, it left visual reminders for a handful of people along the banks of the Verde River.
People like Marie Avery, who owns property along the Verde River just off of Buffalo Trail.
The view from her land is typical of the natural beauty that has drawn so many to the area over the years. Standing on her land, one can see green mountains dominating the skyline above lush riparian grasslands, the Verde River meandering its way between tree-lined banks and over the rusted hulks of construction equipment.
Fifteen years ago, the flood washed a dump truck and a large excavator into the river where they remained, slowly rusting and sinking into the riverbed, becoming seemingly permanent parts of the river’s landscape.
“She’s been trying to get it out of the river since day one,” said Eddie Sass, a caretaker who lives on the property.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality knows about the problem, spokesman Mark Shaffer said, but since the area affected on the property is less than an acre in size, it falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
This weekend, at least one of the eyesores was removed, not with the help of the Army, but with a personal favor to a friend.
After a failed attempt a couple of months ago to pull the truck from the river by the Fort Valley Towing Company, of Flagstaff, a decision was made to bring in the big guns.
Jesse Sensivar, who runs Route 66 Heavy Duty Towing, also in Flagstaff, arrived with the large equipment needed to pull the truck up out of the river, over the bank and on to dry land for the first time in a decade and a half.
Sensivar said that as a friend of the property owner, he was glad to help get the truck of the way. The proposition was made more attractive by ballooning prices in the scrap metal market over the past few years, Sensivar said.
“We also did it for the entertainment value,” Sensivar said, acknowledging that pulling heavy equipment from a river can be a challenge that serves as its own reward.
Sensivar said he’d like to get the excavator out of the river as well, but admits that’s going to be a much bigger project.
“Over the last couple of years there’s be a lot of this kind of stuff popping up,” Sensivar said. With scrap prices what they are, Sensivar said this might be the perfect time for the town or other property owners to go about cleaning up the area’s waterways with little expense.
“[Scrap metal prices] definitely make this more financially practical,” Sensivar said.
Avery’s property isn’t alone. Over the years, other equipment and junk has found its way into the river.
Until about 18 months ago, Kala Pearson said she had to look at a cement truck, a crane and various mining equipment that had been in Beaver Creek for years.
Pearson, who runs the Luna Vista Bed & Breakfast, said the sight of abandoned equipment about a half-mile from her property was a real eyesore.
“Someone finally removed it at great expense,” Pearson said.
You can find similar situations at several places along the Verde River and its tributaries, Sass said, and just because most people don’t see it on a daily basis doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
“[Mayor Tony Gioia] and everyone else talks about protecting our rivers and creeks because they’re endangered,” Sass said. “Well, they need to start by cleaning up junk like this.”
Mark Lineberger can be reached
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