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March 21st, 2013
Grijalva Introduces Package of Bills to Preserve Arizona Lands, Speaks Against Rep. Gosar’s Attempted Resolution Copper Giveaway

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today introduced six bills focused on the management, conservation, and long-term stewardship of federal land in Arizona and throughout the country. The package includes proposals to enhance the already successful Public Land Corps, protect the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, and enhance and modify protections for certain public lands across Southern Arizona.

Separately from today’s package, Grijalva introduced the Southern Arizona Public Lands Protection Act last week to withdraw certain public lands in Pima and Santa Cruz counties from new mining claims.

He also spoke today in committee against the proposed land and minerals giveaway commonly known as the Resolution Copper deal. Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) recently introduced the misnamed Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act (HR 687) to transfer public land in central Arizona to Resolution Copper, which would mine valuable deposits and export them to the highest international bidder without paying any federal royalty to taxpayers.

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler testified at the hearing on behalf of his and every other federally recognized tribe in Arizona on the importance of protecting sacred sites and tribal sovereignty. By requiring compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act only after the proposed land trade has taken place, HR 687 provides no guarantee that meaningful consultation will take place between the tribe and the Forest Service or other federal authorities.

Video of Rep. Grijalva’s statements and testimony at the hearing is available at

Also today, Grijalva highlighted yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge David Campbell denying a uranium industry motion to overturn the Obama administration’s ban on new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon. The ban was adopted in January of 2012, when Rep. Grijalva joined Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at an event at the Grand Canyon to announce the land would be protected for the next 20 years.

“My bills, today’s hearing, and yesterday’s ruling are all about the same issue: how we choose to handle our valuable natural heritage,” Grijalva said. “The House majority’s anti-conservation agenda has only gotten worse over the years. I join many others in this fight in speaking up for the taxpayer even if Republicans won’t. While they stay fixated on giving taxpayer land away to the highest bidder, we’re working to preserve the greater economic and ecological benefits these lands provide Arizonans when they’re protected for the future.”

The Outdoor Industry Association estimated earlier this month that outdoor recreation generates $10.6 billion in consumer spending in Arizona each year and supports 104,000 jobs across the state.

“Arizonans don’t have to be told about the importance of protecting our public lands,” Grijalva said. “We can give our public resources away until they’re gone, or we can maintain an Arizona that’s beautiful, successful and prosperous for the long term. My bills choose the latter, and so does the public.”

A February poll released by Colorado College found that 82 percent of Arizonans recognize the central role of public lands in the state’s economy. The same poll also found that 58 percent of Arizonans call themselves conservationists.

A list of today’s bills is included below.

Public Lands Service Corps Act

The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 will help restore the nation’s natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources while training a new generation of public land managers and enthusiasts. The bill increases the priority of service in the Departments of Agriculture and Interior and encourages more agencies and Indian Tribes to take greater advantage of the Corps authorities.

The Public Lands Corps, established by the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993, has employed thousands of young people to repair and restore our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and other public and tribal lands. The Public Land Service Corps Act of 2013 provides the Departments with the authority to expand and enhance this already successful program.

The bill was introduced with 26 original cosponors, and is identical to S. 360 introduced by Senator Udall of New Mexico.  It is supported National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the National Education Association and the Public Lands Service Coalition, which includes the Southwest Conservation Corps.

Grand Canyon Watershed Protection Act

Congressman Grijalva first introduced the Grand Canyon Watershed Protection Act in 2008 in response to the dramatic upswing in uranium mining claims in the area. His leadership led to the 2009 decision by Interior Secretary Salazar to establish a temporary moratorium on new uranium mining while the Department studied the impact of increased mining. This study led to the 2012 decision to halt new mining claims in the approximately 1 million acres of federal land identified as the Grand Canyon Watershed for the next 20 years.

The Grand Canyon Watershed Protection Act of 2013 was updated to reflect exactly the land withdrawn by last year’s Executive Order. Adoption of the bill would make the withdrawal permanent. The bill was introduced with 16 original cosponsors.

Lower Colorado River Protection Act

Uranium mining is not only threat to health of the Colorado River and the 25 million that rely on it for drinking water. The Lower Colorado River Protection Act of 2013 engages regional stakeholders in creating a plan to protect the Lower Colorado Rive and creates an environmental research program on the River to monitor and design solutions for ecosystem and water quality problems.

The billalso creates an EPA program to protect the River.  The program will be based in the EPA’s Region 9 office, will work with other Federal agencies and state and local authorities, will run the environmental research program, provide support for the development of the plan, and implement projects in the Lower Colorado River Basin.

Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act

This bill enhances protection for a stretch of BLM land that contains an enormous amount of cultural and archeological resources. The area contains various petroglyphs and is considered sacred by a number of Arizona Native American communities. The bill is supported by the Intertribal Council of Arizona, the Yavapai Apache Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, and the Hopi Tribe.

Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act

The proposed legislation would designate around 3,325 square miles of the Santa Cruz Valley as a National Heritage Area.  The designation of a heritage area will engage local stakeholders in their efforts to preserve historical sites, natural habitat for wildlife and other activities that make the valley such a special place to live, and this legislation will also provide the mechanism for providing funding for these efforts.

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) is an original cosponsor.

Complete List of Bills Introduced

Public Lands Service Corps Act 

Grand Canyon Watershed Protection Act

Lower Colorado River Protection Act

Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act

Meers Point Boundary Adjustment Act

Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act

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