Appropriations Committee Passes Gosar-Stewart Amendment Blocking Proposed Grand Canyon Watershed and Sedona Monuments

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Washington, DC, June 15, 2016 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee passed the Gosar-Stewart amendment that blocks the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed and Sedona Monuments while also prohibiting the president from designating new national monuments under the Antiquities Act in other counties where there is significant local opposition, and attached the amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017:
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For Immediate Release

Date: June 15, 2016

Contact: Steven D. Smith

Steven.Smith@mail.house.gov

Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee passed the Gosar-Stewart amendment that blocks the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed and Sedona Monuments while also prohibiting the president from designating new national monuments under the Antiquities Act in other counties where there is significant local opposition, and attached the amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017:

“Local communities deserve to have their voice heard before an authoritarian swipe of the pen bars them from even more land. A unilateral declaration of the nearly two million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a new National Monument would kill jobs, undermine 4FRI and seize private water rights. Additionally, this overreach will erode the extensive cooperation and success that federal and state land management agencies in Arizona have achieved to date. The Antiquities Act has been significantly abused by this rogue president and today the House Appropriations Committee took bold action to prevent future executive land grabs throughout the country.”

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT-02) released the following statement after the amendment passed: “With the passage of this amendment, we are one step closer to preventing any president from creating new national monuments in Utah and in other areas where there is strong opposition. I am a strong supporter of preserving our national treasures, but when dealing with such huge areas of land – like has been proposed with Bears Ears – I believe we must have local and congressional input. Using the Antiquities Act as a political weapon is bad policy and furthers the distrust that exists between Americans and the Federal government.”


Background

The text of the Gosar-Stewart amendment can be found HERE. The amendment passed the full Appropriations Committee 27-22. More information can be found HERE and HERE

In Arizona, the Gosar-Stewart amendment prohibits the designation of any national monument under the Antiquities Act in Coconino, Maricopa, Mohave and Yavapai counties. Designations would still be allowed in these counties if authorized by Congress and signed into law by the president.

Arizona already has 18 national monuments, more than any other state. Only about 18 percent of the land remaining in Arizona is privately held. National monument designations under the Antiquities Act typically have significant consequences that negatively affect grazing rights, water rights, wildfire prevention, and other land management activities.  These declarations also result in some of the most restrictive land-use regulations possible and also greatly impact hunting, fishing, Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) and other recreational activities.

In November of 2015, Congressman Gosar introduced H.R. 3946, the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, legislation which updates the 1906 Antiquities Act in order to protect property rights, water rights and jobs from presidential overreach. More information HERE. Congressman Gosar has also passed another amendment and submitted an appropriation’s rider to prevent further abuse of the Antiquities Act. In February of 2015, Congressman Gosar led his initial effort that was supported by 24 members of Congress to oppose declaration of the Grand Canyon Watershed under the Antiquities Act. 

Congressman Raul Grijalva has claimed that the 1.7 million acre proposed Grand Canyon Watershed came from tribes. To date, no Arizona tribe has passed a resolution in support of the monument and there are disagreements amongst tribal members. This proposal was put forth by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wilderness Society because they specifically want to prevent mining, retire grazing permits, close roads to OHV users, and prevent forest thinning activities.

There is widespread opposition to the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed Monument and the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access issued a press release on a scientific poll that found 71.6% of Arizonans are opposed to the proposed Administrative designation of 1.7 million acres in Northern Arizona as a National Monument.

This proposed 1.7 million acre land grab would undermine the Four Forest Restoration Initiative Program and make Arizona more vulnerable to wildfires. Attorneys have testified that this proposed monument could tie up future surface water use and future groundwater use. The proposed monument also includes 64,000 acres of Arizona State Trust lands and almost 28,000 acres of private land.

A Resolution from the Town of Fredonia states, “The Town Council of the Town of Fredonia is concerned that the impact from the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument “on the Town and its citizens includes but is not limited to: (a) the closing of three businesses…(b) the impairment of small independent businesses…(c) expected reduction or even extinction of local ranching efforts…(d) loss of recreation and tourism…”  

Congressman Gosar has created a comprehensive information page on his website opposing the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument and with more information about his efforts to prevent presidential abuse under the Antiquities Act HERE.

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