ARIZONA STRIP – The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona announced Thursday that Sheriff Jim McCabe has sent letters to federal officials in opposition to the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.
The Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument would designate 1.7 million acres of Arizona land as a national monument, including lands on the Arizona Strip and the North Kaibab and Tusayan Ranger Districts of the Kaibab National Forest.
McCabe’s letter was sent to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain, according to a press release from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.
Below is the sheriff’s letter in its entirety:
I write to express my opposition to the formation of the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument by presidential executive order.
Creating a new and enormous – 1.7 million acres – National Monument amounts to a significant Federal land grab. It would add additional Federal regulation to human activity, including ranching, hunting, and recreational access.
It is just this sort of Federal overreached that has led to proposals for states to assume control of the huge areas of public land in the American West. Creation of vast new National Monuments not by Congressional open debate and action but by presidential executive order, even while lawful, would contribute further to distrust of the Federal action.
I ask for your support in opposing the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.
Environmental groups in favor of the monument say the designation is necessary to preserve and protect species and endangered ecosystems.
The website for the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club states:
The Forest Service currently manages six national monuments, four of which were designated through an act of Congress, and two of which were designated by presidential proclamation. Either approach allows for thorough public involvement and permanent protection of critical federal lands. Only lands owned by the federal government can be declared a national monument by Congress or by the President. The Grand Canyon Watershed could be jointly managed by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Formal designation and permanent protection for the Grand Canyon Watershed allows for continued public access, rights of way, sightseeing, hiking, wildlife observation, birding, hunting, fishing, and many other activities, including traditional tribal access and uses. Permanently protecting this area would conserve, protect, and restore old growth forests and grasslands, important archaeological sites, native wildlife, springs and wetlands, and wildlife migration routes.
The Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, a group of conservationists whose aim is to restore and protect a network of wildlands in the Grand Canyon region, is urging citizens to write to President Barack Obama in favor of the monument.
A page on the council’s website states:
With the proclamation, the following conservation goals can be achieved:
- Protect outstanding features including ancient forests, unique geology and wildlife, springs and natural ponds, and a natural laboratory for understanding responses to climate change.
- Support regional tribal nations in engaging directly in the stewardship of lands of great significance to them today, as well as to their immediate ancestors.
- Create a mechanism for the voluntary retirement of grazing.
- Permanently withdraw these lands from new uranium mines, including the source of waters emerging in Havasu Canyon, south of Grand Canyon, and also the Kanab Creek drainage on the north side.
- Protect the old growth ponderosa pine ecosystem and provide a context for funding and implementing science-based restoration of natural fire, to prevent losses to catastrophic fire and put an end to logging that targets large trees to make ‘restoration’ profitable.
- Formally recognize and protect the Kaibab-Paunsagunt wildlife corridor, a major regional landscape connection for wildlife movement along the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone megalinkage.
Ranchers, members of the mining industry, hunters and others who reside, recreate and make a living in the affected areas say such land grabs have been detrimental in other places where they’ve occurred. They maintain that approving the designation of the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument will impact the livelihoods of many, impede land use, and hinder the ability of ranchers and others to maintain and exercise wise stewardship over the land and continue effectively doing business.
Christy Davis, Arizona Farm Bureau field service manager over five Arizona counties – Coconino, Yavapai, Mohave, La Paz and Maricopa – told St. George News earlier this month that opponents to the monument are being told they will still be able to graze cattle, hunt and recreate in the monument areas and that, essentially, nothing is going to change. But historical practice shows, she said, that significant changes do occur, such as access being cut off to areas within the monument, and guidelines and restrictions being put in place that stifle ranchers’, tourists’ and others’ ability to access, use and maintain the land.
“The problem that we’re seeing,” she said, “is that all these things are here in black and white, but the devil’s in the details. And that’s what happens when these monuments are designated.”
The land in question is already being effectively managed, she said, and there is no need for a monument designation.
“Everybody is going to be impacted by this,” Davis said. “And why? If they say nothing’s gonna change, then why do we need this? Why change anything if you say nothing’s gonna change?”
Those opposed to the monument fear Obama will establish the monument by executive order, bypassing any chance for Arizona residents, representatives and others affected by the designation to provide feedback in the matter.
A letter sent from Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar’s office to Obama in February, and carbon copied to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, bore the signatures of 25 members of Congress, urging the president not to use an executive order to create the monument. A portion of the letter said:
A unilateral designation of 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. We urge you to respect and support the successful multiple-use of this land as currently executed.
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- Senators offer bill to bar presidential ‘water grab’ via monument designation
- Stewart, Hatch, Lee introduce bills to protect Utah’s grazing rights, Grand Staircase-Escalante
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