In response to President Obama designating two national monuments this week in Utah and Nevada, Governor Doug Ducey issued the following statement requesting that the president respect Arizona by not designating the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument:
“Western public land agreements have established a legacy of multi-use that have provided a recreational, environmental, conservation and economic balance that has served our state and nation well,” said Ducey in a press release. “In the early 1990s Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Congressman Morris Udall worked appropriately through congressional action to create a massive footprint of designated wilderness in our state. Arizona also already hosts the most national monuments of any state in the nation. Those monuments more than suffice for enough acreage set aside for elevated public lands management. That work is now complete.”
“Our state needs no further designations. Designations done by decree have already negatively impacted our state’s ability to manage wildlife, held in trust for the people of Arizona and our nation. Proof of this fact is seen in the decline of desert sheep in the Sonoran Desert Monument, where access closures impeded our ability to maintain water catchments to grow these herds. Forest management also suffers in special designation areas, and my fear with the proposed designation is a catastrophic fire that would damage this area for more than a century,” said Ducey.
“I request that the president respect the wishes of our state’s leadership and the Congress of the United States, which is where the real authority for public lands designations resides. The intent of the Antiquities Act gives the president limited authority to set aside the smallest amount of land possible to protect the artifact; this proposed designation of 1.9 million acres of land would be a clear violation of that intent,” said Ducey. “If designated by the president in his waning hours, Arizona will take every step necessary—legally and legislatively—to stop it. My hope is that the president respects our wishes.”
Arizona Representative Bob Thorpe stated, “The Antiquities Act of 1906 is unconstitutional, because the U.S. Constitution states that the Federal government must obtain the permission of a state’s legislature and also compensate the state whenever it wants to use state land, and the use is limited to a handful of very specific enumerated purposes. Past Presidents, including Obama, routinely violate the provisions of the Act, which states that any land taken must be the smallest size required to protect whatever it is that the Feds ‘CLAIM’ that they want to protect.”
“It is truly unfair and unjust, when you consider that National Monuments in the eastern states are typically under 100 acres, whereas those in the western states average 175,000 acres each,” argued Thorpe.
“Arizona has had more National Monuments created than any other state, where we have already lost 100,000 acres of our state trust land, which can no longer benefit our schools and children. If Obama does the bidding of liberal Democrats, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biodiversity, by unilaterally creating the 1.7 million acre Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument, without public input or congressional oversight, then Arizona will lose another 30,000 acres of state trust land, and over 20,000 acres of private land,” continued Thorpe.
“With over 60% of Arizona already under the control of the Feds, Obama’s actions would be nothing less than brazen highway robbery. Arizona must diligently fight any and all illegal, unfair takings by Washington.” Thorpe concluded, “Hopefully under President Trump, these illegal takings can be reversed, and Arizona can have all of its land justly returned to its citizens.”