Arizona sportsmen opposed to national monument proposal

In a move that caught most Arizona sportsmen off guard, three Arizona Congressional representatives have written to President Obama asking that he create yet another national monument in Arizona.

Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-District 3, Rep. Rueben Gallego, D-District 7 and Ann Kirkpatrick, D-District 1, were asked by four environmental groups to contact President Obama and have him designate 1.7 million acres of public land north of the Grand Canyon, known as the Kaibab (Unit 12A) and Arizona Strip (Unit 13A), and part of Unit 9 as the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

The groups are the Sierra Club, Center For Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Environment Arizona.

Sportsmen know that these areas are home to some of the nation's top mule deer and elk hunting areas.

Jim Unmacht is president of the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, and his group is now leading the charge to try and stop this designation, and for very good reasons.

Unmacht said that the groups had cited a number of reasons why the areas need additional protection, but in reality there are protections currently in place that address those concerns.

"There are already rules that deal with old growth logging, grazing, mining and road management," Unmacht said.

Unmacht noted that the Arizona Game and Fish Commission in 2012 voted against any support for this monument designation for these lands. This agency is charged with managing wildlife in Arizona, and they too see that there is no reason to support this action.

No sportsmen group has endorsed this proposed designation, only environmental groups.

Unmacht said that a resolution has been sent to Kirkpatrick's staff that contains the signatures of most of the conservation groups in Arizona who are adamantly opposed to this action.

Local club opposed

Count in the Mohave Sportsman Club, the largest outdoor recreational club in Mohave County, as one of the groups that are opposed to this action. Ron Hooper, president of the local club, sent an email to Unmacht confirming the local group's opposition to the designation and agreeing to sign on the resolution that will be presented to Kirkpatrick's staff.

There is going to be a hastily arranged meeting of stakeholders on Thursday morning in Flagstaff, arranged by Kirkpatrick, and I've been asked by the MSC to take their resolution and present it to her staff.

Arizona has more national monuments than any state in the nation. We already have 18. We don't need any more, and especially this one.

And while many might say that the designation is a good thing, once the facts are known, it is easy to see that these areas are currently well managed and protected under current rules and regulations.

This is nothing more than a back-door attempt by these radical environmental groups who just want to lock up as much public land as they can and keep them from being used by the American public.

There is still time for you, the outdoor enthusiast, to weigh in on this.

Call Molly Brown at (202) 225-3361 and let her know that you don't support this action. Take the time to call.

And if you're available on Thursday morning and want to go to the meeting, call me at (928) 303-9481 and you can ride up with me.