This is an incredible story showing how far the federal government is from rational thought.

Here’s what happened in Tombstone:

Between May and July 2011, the Monument Fire engulfed a large part of the eastern portion of the Huachuca Mountains. Record-breaking monsoon rains followed. With no vegetation to absorb the runoff, huge mudslides forced boulders to tumble down the mountain sides, crushing Tombstone’s mountain spring waterlines, destroying reservoirs and shutting off Tombstone’s main source of water. In some areas, Tombstone’s pipeline is under 12 feet of mud, rocks and other debris; while in other places, it is hanging in mid-air due to the ground being washed out from under it.

So the city got to work repairing the system so the people of Tombstone could have water. Believe it or not, water is kind of a big thing in the desert.

But when the federal government found out what they were doing, they stopped them and said they could only make the repairs if they used horses and hand tools.

No, really:

Citing the Wilderness Act, the Forest Service is refusing to allow the city to repair its waterlines to mountain springs it has owned for nearly seventy years – and which date back to the 1880s. This refusal is threatening residents, private property and public safety with the risk of a total loss of fire protection and safe drinking water.

…federal bureaucrats are refusing to allow Tombstone to unearth its springs and restore its waterlines unless they jump through a lengthy permitting process that will require the city to use horses and hand tools to remove boulders the size of Volkswagens.

Because the spotted owl is more important to the federal government than a steady supply of water during an emergency.

John Stossel had the president of the Goldwater Institute on his show to talk about this:

This is the same logic bureaucrats will apply to health care, or any other part of your life you give them any control over.