VICTORY! Rep. Gosar Successful in Effort to Block 1.7 Million Acre Land Grab in Arizona

Apr 11, 2016 Issues: Listening Session/Roundtable, Energy, Public Lands and Water


As Barack Obama’s presidency came to a close on January 20, 2017, Arizonans celebrated knowing that they successfully blocked a massive federal land grab which threatened to stifle economic development and kill jobs in our rural communities.

In the face of environmental extremists teaming up with a president hell-bent on abusing the Antiquities Act, Arizonans united in one voice to oppose more of our land being unilaterally locked-up by the federal government. I was honored to lead the charge against this misguided land grab for our communities. But this was a team effort and this massive victory is a result of the tireless work by local stakeholders and grassroots groups who united with my office to send a clear message of opposition all the way to the Oval Office.

While we were successful in our efforts to block this monument designation in Arizona, there is still much work to be done during the Trump Administration to rein in the outdated Antiquities Act. Local communities deserve to have their voices heard before a president can lock up millions of acres of land with one stroke of a pen.

I continue to call on President Trump to repeal the land grabs executed by former President Obama where significant local opposition was present including Bears Ears, Utah and Clark County, Nevada.

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson stated, “Clearly, successfully blocking this effort by the federal government is a huge success story for Arizona and vitally important for Mohave County. My first meeting with Congressman Gosar was in 2010 at a meeting fighting this overreach and he never gave up. Future economic development can now proceed as we move to both preserve the natural beauty of the nearly 2 million acres and create new jobs and opportunities as well. This is a massive victory.”

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer stated, “We are extremely pleased that the Obama administration has come to an end without designating a huge swath of northern Arizona as a national monument. Doing so would have been a monumental mistake. But this was a close call. We look forward to working with the new Congress to reform the Antiquities Act to ensure that even the potential of a similar land grab can’t occur again.”

Chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Kurt Davis stated, “We are thankful that the preservation of the multi-use doctrine has been protected and that the effective conservation of wildlife can continue on these lands.”

Arizona water law expert and attorney Bob Lynch stated, “What most people don't know is that defeating this proposal, especially the Executive action, dodges troubling unresolved water rights issues that could threaten water conservation at Lake Mead. Thank you, Congressman Gosar!”

The president’s ability to set aside land for monuments and national parks comes from the outdated 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 intent of this law, which included language to limit these designations to “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects,” has been significantly abused.

President Obama  exceeded the intent of the Antiquities Act more than any other president in the history of this country. By the end of his presidency, he designated or expanded 27 national monuments. These unilateral declarations have locked up 548,744,157.31 million acres of land and water.

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, OHV and other recreational activities.

Unilateral designations that circumvent Congress typically result in devastating consequences for rural America and our future economic prosperity. For every new acre claimed for the federal government, there is an acre of private land lost. Such actions exacerbate challenges for local communities to fund things like education and infrastructure as lands that are added to the federal rolls can no longer be taxed.

Arizona already has 18 national monuments, more than any other state. Only 18.2% of Arizona land is private land and the federal government already controls more than 30 million acres of land in our state and more than 635 million acres throughout the country.

Since 2010, extremist environmental groups have been pushing an extreme proposal that explicitly seeks to lock-up 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed. Shamefully, some proponents of the monument have been lying to the American people by stating this was an idea that was initiated by tribal governments. This proposal was put forth by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wilderness Society. The real intentions of these shortsighted self-interest groups are clear as they boldly state in their literature that this land grab is needed in order to prevent hunting and fishing, mining, timber harvesting, ohv use, energy development and grazing on this massive swath of land.

Three Democrats from Arizona’s delegation sent a letter to the President requesting he appease these special-interest groups by locking-up nearly 2 million acres in northern Arizona. Arizona's southern liberal Congressman, Raul Grijalva, subsequently introduced a bill that also aims to accomplish this misguided land grab. Rep. Gosar has spearheaded multiple initiatives to prevent this occurrence and reform the 1906 Antiquities Act. These efforts are detailed below.

A scientific poll conducted by Coleman Dahm and Associates found that 71.6% of Arizonans are opposed to the proposed Administrative designation of 1.7 million acres in Northern Arizona as a National Monument. While some special-interest groups have commissioned push polls in attempting to show support for this misguided proposal, this poll makes clear that Arizonans recognize that future management of this area should be driven by a collaborative processes that includes local stakeholders and that Arizonans overwhelmingly oppose this land grab.

Rep. Grijalva’s bill even contains an obscure provision which states if there is a conflict between his bill and the laws the bill amends, then “the most restrictive provision shall control… management of the federal lands within the National Monument.”

The proposed 1.7 million acre Grand Canyon Watershed Monument would be significantly larger than the 1.2 million acre Grand Canyon National Park. It’s a watershed though so there will be no new monies from Congress, no significant tourism dollars and no significant jobs created as a result of this land grab. Proponents of this monument proposal have also tried to deceive Arizonans into believing this land grab is necessary in order to protect the Grand Canyon and prevent uranium mining in this area. The Grand Canyon is already protected by the Grand Canyon Protection Act, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act as well as multiple other regulations and laws. Uranium mining in this area is already prevented till at least 2032 as a result of the unilateral Salazar uranium withdrawal.

Multiple-use recreation and other important activities currently take place on these lands and have for generations. Rep. Grijalva’s bill, or a unilateral designation of the nearly two million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument, would stifle economic development, kill jobs and erode the extensive cooperation and success that federal and state agencies in Arizona have achieved to date.

     Arizona communities and local stakeholders reject using the Antiquities Act to create a new 1.7 million acre national monument in a watershed in northern Arizona

KINGMAN, ARIZONA – On Monday April 11, 2016, Congressman Gosar held a Public Listening Session in Kingman, Arizona titled, “Government Land Grabs: Exposing The Truth." During the event, the Congressman heard from concerned citizens for more than three hours on the need to reform the Antiquities Act and the negative impacts that would result should President Obama appease special-interest groups and unilaterally lock up 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed through the creation of a new national monument under presidential decree. A designation of this size would cause significant harm to our economy and kill thousands of local jobs.

“Resounding comments from small business owners, sportsmen, farmers, ranchers, elected officials and many other many stakeholders made clear that Arizonans adamantly oppose another massive land grab from the Obama Administration. Witnesses at this event were unanimous in rejecting use of the Antiquities Act to create a new 1.7 million acre national monument in a watershed in northern Arizona,” said Congressman Gosar. “Substantive testimony confirmed that this misguided special-interest proposal will kill jobs, prevent mining, retire grazing permits, close roads to OHV users, reduce access for sportsmen, steal water rights and harm 4FRI. I call on the White House to listen to the people of Arizona and reject this misguided land grab put forth by environmental extremists with an agenda.” 

Read more from Local media outlets coverage of the Listening Session:

Lake Havasu City's Today's News-Herald

Kingman Daily Miner

Mohave Valley Daily News

Lake Havasu City's Today's News-Herald


Witnesses who submitted testimony for the Listening Session stated:

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey submitted testimony stating, "Imposition of a preservation management objective overlay on 1.7 million acres of land in Arizona thwarts Arizona's land management objectives and values, and it does so by bypassing a public process that would most certainly result in a much more thoughtful result. The Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument is not narrow, targeted, warranted, or being considered through an open cooperative public process."

Arizona State Land Department Commissioner Lisa Atkins submitted testimony stating, "Of the 1.7 million acres included in proposals for the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument (GCWNM), 64,000 acres belong solely to the Common Schools beneficiary: K-12 education...Inclusion of the checker-boarded State Trust land within the GCWNM essentially traps the State Trust land, significantly limiting economic opportunity and, in some cases, eliminating their value to the Trust altogether. Ultimately, if the GCWNM is created, these trapped State Trust lands would be adversely relinquished to federal management objectives without consultation or coordination with the State on behalf of the Trust beneficiaries, as currently exists within other federal land use designations. These designations impose potential limitations to not only the types of activities and businesses that can be conducted on these trapped State Trust lands, but also increases federal regulatory burdens that impose greater costs to lessees. Potential land devaluation can also result from the increased costs to prospective buyers and lessees as a result of the regulatory burdens imposed by federal regulations.

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt R. Davis testified, “Arizona has had enough public land that have seen declining access; declining ability to manage wildlife and declining ability to maintain the heritage and history of those who came to Arizona to build families and lives in rural Arizona. Arizonans have witnessed massive and cataclysmic wild fires across our federal lands over the past two decades because of a lack of proactive habitat management. This unfortunately, will be the destiny of the North Kaibab if a monument is established. Simply and sadly stated, the President is being asked to use the stroke of a pen, but it will also certainly serve as the strike of the match.”

Arizona Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Hamer submitted testimony stating, “Monument designations have a significant economic impact because they entail restrictions, limitations, or out-right bans on land use, including commercial development, grazing, timber production, mining, and the use of off-road vehicles. By preventing economic activity that generates needed income and tax revenue, monument designation will have far-reaching consequences for infrastructure, job creation, and economic growth in the towns surrounding the proposed monument areas as well as across the state.”

Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) submitted testimony stating, “The ability of the Arizonans to enjoy the responsible use of their public land must be respected, as must the primacy of state agencies to manage the land under their authority. A unilateral designation of the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument would erode the extensive work that federal and state land agencies have done to successfully manage this land.”

Jim Parks, President of the Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association (on behalf of the Arizona Farm Bureau), testified, “Within the bounds of the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument are over 64,000 acres of Arizona State Trust lands and almost 28,000 acres of private land. This alone violates federal and state laws, as it amounts to a ‘taking’ of these state and private lands.”

Eric Duthie, Town Manager of the Town of Tusayan, testified, “Tusayan would become the only municipality entirely swallowed up in this monument…Tusayan strongly opposes the establishment of the Grand Canyon Watershed Monument, whether through Congressional decree or Executive Order. Tusayan believes such action would constitute federal overreach in order to appease special-interest groups who do not live among, nor represent the views of the many life-long residents who cherish and manage the Grand Canyon.” 

Kelly Shaw-Norton, President of the Arizona Mining Association, testified, “The Antiquities Act was intended as a tool to set aside ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ It was not meant to be used for expansive amounts of land without public input and Congressional approval.”

Bob Lynch, an Arizona water law expert and attorney, submitted testimony stating, "The first thing that came to mind when I looked at the map was how will the Four Forest Restoration Initiative Program, the Federal/Arizona partnership for forest thinning for fire protection and watershed management, continue in a national monument?...The designation will only complicate the ability of the United States and the State of Arizona to work together to improve this forest for watershed purposes and to protect it from catastrophic wildfire...Designation of the monument will tie up not only any future surface water use but any future groundwater use as well."

Rep. Gosar's opening statement and PowerPoint can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

Opening Statement of U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, 4th Congressional District
         PowerPoint Presentation that accompanied Rep. Gosar's Opening statement

To view the testimonies submitted by witnesses at this public listening session, click on their name below:

Doug Ducey, State of Arizona, Governor (testimony for the record)

Lisa A. Atkins, Arizona State Land Department, Commissioner (testimony for the record)

Kurt Davis, Chairman, Arizona Game and Fish Commission

Glenn Hamer, President and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry (testimony for the record)

Bob Lynch, Robert S. Lynch and Associates, Arizona Attorney (testimony for the record)

Tyler Carlson, CEO, Mohave Electric Cooperative

Pamela Hill, Executive Director, American Clean Energy Resources Trust

Jim Parks, President, Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers' Association on behalf of the Arizona Farm Bureau

Kelly Shaw-Norton, President, Arizona Mining Association

Emmett Sturgill, Chairman of the Federal Lands/Bureau of Land Management Committee for the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association

        Emmett Sturgill PowerPoint Presentation

Gary Watson, Mohave County Supervisor, District 1

Jim Unmacht, President, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation

Harold Roberts, Executive Vice President of Conventional Operations, Energy Fuels Resources Inc.

Shari Farrington, on behalf of U.S. Congressman Trent Franks, 8th Congressional District

Eric Duthie, Town Manager, Town of Tusayan

Joe Bardswich, Professional Engineer, L. J. Bardswich Mine Consultant Inc.

Frank McNelly, Williams City Council Member

Craig Wiita, President, Wiita Mining and Exploration

Buster Johnson, Mohave County Supervisor, District 3

PowerPoint Presentation by Dwight Kadar and Mike Schroeder of Arizona Liberty

Sylvia Allen, State Senator, District 6, Arizona State Senate (opposition letter for the record)

Gail Griffin, State Senator, District 14, Arizona State Senate (opposition letter for the record)

Alvy Johnson, Mayor, Town of Fredonia (resolution in opposition for the record)

David Gowan, Speaker of the House, District 14, Arizona House of Representatives (Gave verbal testimony)

Brenda Barton, State Representative, District 6, Arizona House of Representatives (Gave verbal testimony)

Richard Anderson, Mayor, City of Kingman (Gave verbal testimony)

Mike Macauley, Chairman, Coconino NRCD, Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (Gave verbal testimony)

Donna Crouse, taxpayer (submitted written testimony at listening session in opposition)

Susan McAlpine, taxpayer (submitted written testimony at listening session in opposition)


Approximately 135 people attended the Public Listening Session in person and hundreds more watched online.          

Williams City Councilman Frank McNelly, Mike Macauley on behalf of the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts, and Jim Parks on behalf of the Arizona American Farm Bureau Federation  testified at the Public Listening Session. 

Kingman Mayor Richard Anderson provided excellent testimony in opposition to the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed Monument.

Kelly Shaw-Norton, President of the Arizona Mining Association testified, “The Antiquities Act was intended as a tool to set aside ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ It was not meant to be used for expansive amounts of land without public input and Congressional approval.”

Harold Roberts, Executive Vice President of Conventional Operations for Energy Fuels Resources Inc. gave testimony on the negative impact a national monument designation would have on energy development in Arizona. 

Craig Wiita, President of Wiita Mining and Exploration, testified on the need to reform the 
Antiquities Act.

Background on Gosar efforts to prevent presidental abuse and unilateral designations under the Antiquities Act:

In November of 2015, Congressman Gosar introduced legislation, H.R. 3946, the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, 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 an amendment and submitted an appropriation’s rider to prevent further abuse of the Antiquities Act. In February of 2015, Rep. 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. 

H.R. 3946 requires written consent from private property owners before including their private property, ensures declarations don’t increase the amount of funds appropriated in any fiscal year, prohibits designations in counties where there is significant local opposition, includes language that ensures designations won’t negatively impact private water rights, limits designations under this outdated law to 5,000 acres or less, and requires local consultation and concurrence prior to any new declarations.

H.R. 3946 is supported by all five Arizona House Republicans and blocks two misguided monument efforts in the Grand Canyon Watershed and the Sedona Verde Valley, both of which have significant local opposition. The bill accomplishes this task by explicitly prohibiting declarations by executive fiat in Coconino and Mohave and Yavapai counties, amongst other counties throughout the country.

Groups in Opposition to the Grand Canyon Watershed Monument: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Public Lands Council;  Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC); the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA); Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA); Americans for Limited Government; Archery Trade Association; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Boone and Crockett Club; Camp Fire Club of America; Council for Citizens Against Government Waste; Eagle Forum; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports; Dallas Safari Club; Delta Waterfowl Foundation; Heritage Action, Houston Safari Club; Masters of Foxhounds Association; Mule Deer Foundation; National Association of Forest Service Retirees; National Rifle Association; National Shooting Sports Foundation; National Wild Turkey Federation; North American Bear Foundation; Orion: The Hunter’s Institute; Quality Deer Management Association; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Ruffed Grouse Society; Safari Club International, Tread Lightly!; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Wildlife Management Institute; Wild Sheep Foundation; Whitetails Unlimited; U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance; Anglers United of Arizona; Arizona Antelope Foundation; Arizona Bass Federation Nation; Arizona Big Game Super Raffle; Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association; Arizona Cattle Growers' Association; Arizona Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation; Arizona Chapter Safari Club International; Arizona Deer Association; Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society; Arizona Elk Society; Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; Arizona Flycasters Club; Arizona Game and Fish Commission; Arizona Houndsmen; Arizona Liberty; Arizona Mining Association; Arizona Outdoor Sports; Arizona Rock Products; Arizona Small Business Association; Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation; Arizona Wildlife Federation; Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce; the Mayor and City Council of Bullhead City; Catron County; City of Williams; Cochise /Graham Cattle Growers Association;  Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association, Coconino Sportsmen; Concerned Citizens for America; Ellsworth Ranch; Gila County Cattle Growers Association; Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association; Greenlee Cattle Growers Association; La Paz County Stockmen's Association; Livestock Market Digest Newspaper; Maricopa County Cattle Growers Association, Mohave County Board of Supervisors; Mohave Livestock Association, Mohave Sportsman’s Club; Navajo/Apache Cattle Growers Association; New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association; New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.; New Mexico Federal Lands Council; New Mexico Stockman magazine; Outdoor Experience 4 ALL; Prescott’s HWY69 Group; South Eastern Arizona Sportsmen; Southern Arizona Cattlemen's Protective Association; SRT Outdoors; Shake, Rattle and Troll Radio; The Bass Federation; Town of Fredonia; Veritas Research; Whitewater Cattle Co.; Xtreme Predator Callers; Yavapai Cattle Growers Association; 1.2.3.Go…

Formal Resolutions and Letters can be viewed by clicking on the links below:
American Hunter and Conservationists Letter
Arizona Game and Fish Commission Resolution
Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation Letter
Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation Resolution
Arizona Wildlife Federation Letter
Arizona Elk Society Letter
Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) Letter
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership 3.15.16 Letter
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership 5.14.15 Letter
City of Williams Resolution
Town of Fredonia Resolution
Senate Concurrent Memorial 1001
Arizona House Legislative Resolution
Sylvia Allen, State Senator, District 6, Arizona State Senate, Letter
Gail Griffin, State Senator, District 14, Arizona State Senate. Letter
Steve Pierce, State Senator, District 1, Arizona State Senate, Letter

In addition, the following members of Congress have joined Congressman Gosar in opposing the National Monument designation in the Grand Canyon Watershed: U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, U.S. Representatives Mark Amodei, Brian Babin, Ken Buck, Paul Cook, Kevin Cramer, John Culberson, John Duncan, John Fleming, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Bob Goodlatte, Crescent Hardy, Tim Huelskamp, Walter Jones, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Raul Labrador, Doug LaMalfa, Doug Lamborn, Mia Love, Cynthia Lummis, Patrick McHenry, Martha McSally, Tom McClintock, Dan Newhouse, Richard Nugent, Stevan Pearce, Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, Steve Russell, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Chris Stewart, Glenn Thompson, Scott Tipton, David Valadao, Daniel Webster, Bruce Westerman, Don Young and Ryan Zinke.

The following state officials from Arizona also oppose the monument designation: Governor Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Former U.S. Senator John Kyl, Arizona State Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins, Speaker of the House David Gowan, Senate President Andy Biggs, State Senator Gail Griffin, State Senator Sylvia Allen, State Senator Steve Pierce, Apache County Supervisor Barry Weller, Pinal County Supervisors Cheryl Chase, Stephen Miller and Anthony Smith, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, La Paz County Supervisor King Clapperton, the five-member Arizona Game and Fish Commission and 10 former commissioners.

Other Relevant Materials:
Arizona Chamber Foundation and Prosper Foundation Policy Brief
Arizona Game and Fish Department Pamphlet
Congressional Research Report on National Monuments