April 26 SALT seminar on environmental changes in the U.S. since 1492

Art Wirtz, former district ranger for the Mesa District of Tonto National Forest.

Imagine the Superstitions area, the broader Sonoran Desert and the diversity of environments across America when Columbus first set foot on this continent in 1492.

Art Wirtz, former district ranger for the Mesa District of Tonto National Forest, will take a very broad perspective as he discusses how man has impacted the lower 48 states from that time of discovery until today and on into the future. Mr. Wirtz’s talk is the last presentation in the Superstition Area Land Trust’s speakers series, “The Superstitions: Part of the Whole.” It will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 26 in room B-117 of the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road. The series is co-sponsored by SALT and the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department,and is free and open to the public.

The “part of the whole” theme is appropriate, as the “whole” Mr. Wirtz will describe is national. Included will be some discussion of population dynamics, settlers’ need for natural resources, and the impacts of humans on wildlife species habitat and fire in the wildlands. Despite the broad approach, Mr. Wirtz promises to include a local perspective as well.

Mr. Wirtz spent 40 years with the U.S. Forest Service in management positions in four states. He was district ranger in Missouri, Minnesota and Arizona and deputy forest supervisor for the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff. He has been command staff for national incident management teams for more than 30 years, including managing fire suppression and natural disasters in 11 states and Canada. During the Yellowstone fires of 1987, he worked in Washington, D.C., as national and international spokesperson for the secretary of agriculture on fire issues. He also taught wilderness management at Vermillion College, fire science at New Mexico State University and public land management at Arizona State University. Since retiring in 2011, he has served as president of Friends of the Tonto, taught ecology and fire science at local high schools and served as a fire expert for CNN. In his spare time, he plays in a bluegrass band to raise money for local charities.

Conserving the natural Sonoran Desert open spaces surrounding the Superstition Wilderness Area has been the mission of SALT, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, for 24 years.

Editor’s note: Charlie and Becky Goff are with the SALT Education Committee.

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