On Tuesday, Congressman Paul Gosar blasted Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) for his Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act which would designate 1.7 million acres near the Grand Canyon as a new national monument. In response to Grijalva’s bill, this Thursday, November 5, during the final vote series, Congressman Gosar plans to introduce the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act.
Original Cosponsors of Congressman Gosar’s draft bill as of Tuesday include Reps. Mark Amodei, Kevin Cramer, Paul Cook, John Duncan, Trent Franks, Walter Jones, Steve King, Cynthia Lummis, Steve Pearce, Matt Salmon and Chris Stewart.
“It’s absolutely shameful that Rep. Grijalva would try to use tribes as political pawns to implement the misguided agenda of extremist environmental groups. His double-dealing bill isn’t even worth the paper it was printed on and has no chance of passing Congress. Instead, it is a deceitful attempt to provide political cover for the president should he fail to recognize significant opposition from local Arizona communities and once again abuse his power with one stroke of a pen under the Antiquities Act.
“Rep. Grijlava’s bill, pandering to extremist environmental groups, will kill jobs, stifle development, permanently prevent mining and future grazing leases, impose significant OHV road closures and significantly restrict hunting, timber harvesting and commercial recreational activities on 1.7 million acres in northern Arizona. I encourage the southern Arizona Congressman to focus on killing jobs and locking up millions of acres of land in his own district.”
Western Caucus Chairwoman Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large), issued a statement after hearing of introduction of the Girjalva bill. “Too often, presidents have forced monument designations on communities over local objections and disrupted economies and locally-driven conservation efforts alike,” Stated Lummis. “Today Representative Gosar is making it loud and clear to the White House that there is considerable opposition to Representative Grijalva’s monument proposal by those on the ground who will feel the brunt of its impact. Unfortunately, President Obama has a track record of shutting out local voices in its monument designations. It is long past time for Congress to rein in Antiquities Act abuses in favor of collaborative, locally-driven, boots-on-the-ground conservation that is better equipped to protect our natural resources.”
Jim Unmacht, President of the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, said Grijalva’s bill is “another effort to ‘solve’ a perceived problem that doesn’t exist. There is already a moratorium on mining, timber harvests are managed, grazing is regulated, travel management has already closed miles of roads and Arizona’s wildlife doesn’t need more bureaucracy to manage and conserve it. Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation opposes this bill.”
Since 2010, extremist environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, have been pushing an extreme proposal that explicitly seeks to prevent hunting, mining, timber harvesting and grazing according to Gosar.
Gasar argues that 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 erode the extensive cooperation and success that federal and state agencies in Arizona have achieved to date, claims Gosar.
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,” notes Gosar.
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.
Some of the concerns that have been expressed by local communities and organizations about this proposal include:
“The creation of a National Monument by President declaration does not allow for input from local communities…; could result negative impacts… for grazing, hunting, water development and forest restoration…which would result in negative economic and public health impacts to the City of Williams.”
“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…”
“In closing, we believe the proposal is a clear attempt to by-pass the ongoing planning and management efforts that serve wildlife, wildlife habitat, and the public well with the intent of satisfying a few special interest groups.”
“This proposed designation would almost double the amount of acreage designated as national monuments in Arizona and would be the nation’s second largest national monument…the proposed monument designation would severely impact thousands of acres of state trust lands locked up within its boundaries and deny their beneficial use to the trust…”
Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem stated, “Raul Grajalva has become very good at inventing problems to solve. If we could only get him to focus on real problems that exist, and not his radical ideological agenda, we might actually see some representation from him in Washington DC. Instead, he is bent on representing interests other than those of his constituents. Follow the money.”
On July 8, 2015, the House successfully passed an amendment by recorded vote spearheaded by Congressman Gosar and Congressman Cresent Hardy (NV-04) to prohibit public land management agencies from carrying out declarations under the Antiquities Act in counties where there is significant local opposition, including the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.
The Gosar-Hardy amendment prohibited pending presidential designations of a National Monument in specified counties including Mohave and Coconino in Arizona; Modoe and Siskiyou in California; Chaffee, Moffat, and Park in Colorado; Lincoln, Clark and Nye in Nevada; Otero in New Mexico; Jackson, Josephine and Malheur in Oregon; Wayne, Garfield and Kane in Utah.
The Gosar-Hardy amendment which rejected this monument designation under the Antiquities Act had significant support from organizations and citizens throughout Arizona and the country including: American Farm Bureau, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA), Eagle Forum, Arizona Cattleman’s Association, Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association, the Arizona Mining Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Association, the Colorado Snowmobile Association, the Trails Preservation Alliance, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Arizona Rock Products, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Limited Government, Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association, Yavapai Cattle Growers Association, Navajo/Apache Cattle Growers Association, Greenlee Cattle Growers Association, La Paz Stockmen’s Association, Mohave Livestock Association, Gila County Cattle Growers Association, Maricopa County Cattle Growers Association, Cochise /Graham Cattle Growers Association, Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, La Paz County Supervisor King Clapperton, City of Williams, Mohave Sportsman Club, Town of Fredonia, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, Anglers United, AZ Antelope Foundation, AZ BASS Nation, AZ Big Game Super Raffle, AZ Bowhunters Association, AZ Chapter of Safari Club International, AZ Deer Association, AZ Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, AZ Elk Society, AZ Houndsmen Association, AZ Outdoor Sports, Coconino Sportsmen, Outdoor Experience 4 All, South Eastern AZ Sportsmen’s Club, SRT Outdoors, The BASS Federation, Xtreme Predator Callers, 1.2.3.Go…
On February 18, 2015, Congressman Gosar spearheaded a letter to President Obama with 24 cosigners asking the president not to unilaterally designate 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument. The other cosigners of Congressman Gosar’s letter to President Obama included representatives Trent Franks, Matt Salmon, and David Schweikert.
Rep. Grijlava’s bill would also provide tribes with federal grant money in a deceitful attempt to buy their support, according to Gosar.