Arizona Game & Fish notes opposition to Grand Canyon national monument

KINGMAN - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is taking a stand against a proposed national monument.

The commission adopted a resolution Friday saying it was opposed to a plan to remove 1.7 million acres of public land surrounding the Grand Canyon and including much of the Arizona Strip north of the Grand Canyon in Mohave County into a national monument. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service control the land.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors has already voiced objections to the proposed monument.

The Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument is being proposed by the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Center for Biological Diversity and the Wilderness Society.

The federal agencies stated they received the proposal but have yet to consider it.

According to the commission, the lands are already well maintained and the habitat of wildlife well protected by federal guidelines from overuse by the public or ranchers. The new monument designation could lock away the land from all public use and the ability of the commission to manage wildlife in the area.

"This is really about changing the status of these lands and adding another layer of federal bureaucracy, which has far-ranging implications," said Commissioner Kurt R. Davis.

The proposal would also require the voluntary retirement of grazing leases on the lands. Game and Fish points out that the loss of livestock management can cause significant loss of water availability for wildlife, besides negatively impacting the local economy.

It could also hamper the department's ability to thin high-risk forests, exposing the forest to the possibility of catastrophic wild fires.

Commissioners pointed out that the national monument process does not require public input or congressional oversight.

They also pointed out that the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 and the Federal Land and Policy Management Act of 1976 legally prohibit federal agencies from affecting the state's jurisdiction and responsibilities when it comes to public lands.