Rep. Gosar Leads Effort to Discourage 1.7 Million Acre Land Grab in Arizona
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steven D. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after sending a letter with 24 cosigners asking President Obama not to unilaterally designate 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument:
“Extremist environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, have been pushing for the president to circumvent Congress and make a new 1.7 million acre designation using the Antiquities Act in the Grand Canyon Watershed. The real intentions of these shortsighted, self-interest groups are clear: they want this designation to prevent energy development, timber harvesting, grazing, mining and different types of recreation on this massive swath of land.
“The president has circumvented Congress at an unprecedented rate. This week alone, he will designate three new national monuments in Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois. My fear is that at the prodding of three liberal Democrats and a couple extremist environmental groups, Arizona may be next on the list. Locking up 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed would be devastating for local economies. Such action would also erode the extensive cooperation and success that federal and state agencies in Arizona have achieved to date. Worse yet, this land grab targets nearly 7,000 acres currently in private ownership and thousands of acres of State Trust Land that rural communities are counting on to provide important revenues for education and other critical services.
“I will not sit idle while extremist environmental groups that have no understanding of the real world try to ruin the state I love. When more land is locked up by the federal government, real people suffer and opportunities for future prosperity are reduced. For every acre of land declared public, there is an acre of private land lost and in Arizona, only about 18% of the land remaining in the state is privately held.
“A need to weigh the costs and benefits of acreage within Arizona’s border is too great a responsibility to entrust to one pen stroke from the Executive Branch. This responsibility alone rests within Congress and the people. Clearly, a unilateral designation of nearly 2 million acres would be contradictory to the intent of Congress as well as Section 2 of the Antiquities Act, which limits designations to the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’
“My colleagues and I will continue to oppose this misguided effort and protect the interests of rural communities. Any future designation of any acre within this watershed should be pursued in a way that includes public input and seeks Congressional approval. Not more top-down, big government land grabs done by executive order at the behest of special interest groups.”
Congressman Gosar introduced the Arizona Land Sovereignty Act during the 113th Congress which sought to prohibit designations in Arizona without express consent of Congress. Read more HERE.
The federal government’s ability to set aside land for monuments and national parks comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was originally intended to protect prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts on federal lands in the West. More than one hundred years later, the original purpose of this bill has been significantly abused; more than 130 million acres and more than 100 national monuments now exist. President Obama has used the Antiquities Act 16 times now, limiting public input and bypassing Congress each time.
Recently, three Democrats from Arizona’s delegation sent a letter to the President supporting this flawed land grab. Arizona already has 18 national monuments, more than any other state. Nearly 50 percent of all land in Arizona is already under federal management and ‘more than 77 percent of Arizona’s lands are restricted from public access and recreation...’
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission continues to voice its concerns regarding this potential designation. The Commission, a constitutionally-mandated group of citizen volunteers, has already considered the alternatives and voted in 2012 to oppose creation of the monument.
The other cosigners of Congressman Gosar’s letter to President Obama include Representatives Mark Amodei, Paul Cook, John Culberson, John Fleming, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Bob Goodlatte, Crescent Hardy, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Doug LaMalfa, Doug Lamborn, Cynthia Lummis, Tom McClintock, Stevan Pearce, Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Glenn Thompson, Scott Tipton, Daniel Webster, Bruce Westerman, Don Young and Ryan Zinke
Click HERE to read the full letter to President Obama from Congressman Gosar and his colleagues.