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. In total, 30 local Arizona stakeholders submitted oral and written testimony for the Congressional Record, approximately 135 people attended the Public Listening Session in person, and hundreds more watched online.
“Resounding testimony 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.”
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 Kiabab 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.”
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 4/16/16