A former rafting guide and seven other men may be
sent up the river for bombing a Class 6 rapid. A federal grand jury
in Phoenix, Ariz., indicted William K. Stoner, 34, and his
co-conspirators Oct. 13 on charges they blew up Quartzite Falls in
Arizona's Salt River Canyon Wilderness. The boaters are accused of
acquiring 154 pounds of explosives, then assembling and igniting
bombs during at least five separate river trips between August and
October of 1993. Before its destruction, Quartzite Falls backed up
rafters, sending some on a three-hour portage. The falls are now so
tame, "I could take my mother-in-law in her walker through it,"
said one veteran river-runner after the vandalism (HCN, 4/18/94).
In addition to soaking boaters, the falls also acted as a barrier
protecting native fish from hungry non-native species stocked
downstream for anglers, says W.L. McKinley of Arizona State
University, an expert on native fish in the Southwest. Because the
rapid is technically federal property, its destruction by means of
an explosive carries a $250,000 fine or a maximum of 20 years in
prison, or both. "It is my hope that the prosecution of this
serious crime will deter others from similarly stupid acts," says
Janet Napolitano, U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona. The
indictments followed a Forest Service investigation led by Special
Agent Lyle Shaver.