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Know the West

Fossil Creek will flow again

  What was planned as an angry protest turned into a jubilant celebration on Nov. 18, after Arizona Public Service agreed to restore Fossil Creek, nearly dry for more than 80 years (HCN, 11/22/99).

"It's huge," says Lisa Force of the Center for Biological Diversity, which had planned to picket APS headquarters before the decision was announced. "It's a first. A historic agreement to completely restore an Arizona stream."

Decommissioning the two small hydroplants on Fossil Creek will restore critical habitat for threatened and endangered desert fish and wildlife. It will also bring back the creek's unique travertine formations, which create dramatic pools and waterfalls.

Ed Fox, spokesman for Arizona Public Service, says even without outside pressure, his company would have decommissioned the facility. "There is an ethic," Fox says of APS. "It may not be the same as environmental groups, but there is a concern for the environment and the social fabric of the places where we live and breathe."

APS has agreed to restore full flows to Fossil Creek no later than Dec. 31, 2004.

As for the center's demonstration, Force says, "What we had originally planned as a protest has turned into a thank you, an APS-we're-still-watching-you kind of thing."

*Karen Mockler