Letter: Asking to Remove Monument Status

Secretary Zinke,

We are writing to you as the local governing body of Mohave County and on behalf of our constituents who would greatly benefit from the lifting of monument designations throughout Arizona. Under President Bill Clinton, 1. 5million acres of land was designated as a national monument in the northern part of Mohave County, also known as the Arizona Strip area. As you may be aware, our state currently has 18 national monuments. We have more monuments than any other state in the Country. Arizona is over 50% federal land and Mohave County is over 90%. We are writing to you today to express our concerns with national monuments that have been designated under past Presidents and how their designation has greatly impacted the economic development and growth of Arizona, Mohave County and our sister state of Utah.

Many who grew up in Arizona from the 1950s through the 1970s know about the five C’s. The Five Cs are: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate. In the early years of the state, the five C’s were very important for jobs. Agriculture (farming), ranching and mining jobs helped bring people here to work and play. I remind you of this because it holds true today. The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Northern Arizona cut off nearly 300 billion tons of clean burning coal along with natural gas and crude oil for economic development in Mohave and Coconino Counties in Arizona as well as in Utah. Areas within the monument use to be home to some of the largest copper mining productions in the United States. The natural resources contained in this monument are being cut off from our taxpayers. Should the Parashant lose its monument status, economic development could finally occur on this land while at the same time still preserve it for future generations to enjoy. While county taxpayers are still feeling the crunch of the latest economic recession, taking away vital land that could be used for mining and/ or certain forms of outdoor recreation and tourism only derails our economic recovery.

The Grand Canyon-Parashant, Sonoran Desert, Vermillion Cliffs and the Ironwood Forest National Monument designations are taking away much needed economic development for our state. Over 2 million acres is taken up by just these four out of 18 monuments we currently have. I strongly believe that monument designation does little to protect the land and environmental needs. With the Grand Canyon—Parashant Monument, in seven years little has been done to protect the Grand Canyon and the lands surrounding it, but the designation has hurt Mohave County and the surrounding areas.

As the federal and state government continues to take privately held lands away from our residents, it becomes harder and harder to create jobs and keep our taxpayers employed. The Parashant Monument took away mining and greatly reduced tourism to the area that effected not only Arizona but our sister state of Utah as well. These designations are reducing the ability of private ownership in these area for growth in our state. Why as a matter of public policy is locking down known natural resources wise? The Parashant Monument has not added to the beauty or economy of our state. The only thing it has done has placed” keep out signs” on the land barring our citizens from making a living or enjoying the land.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors believes that these monuments go against the U.S. Constitution. They were put into place under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Arizona has never approved or has been compensated for the State Trust land encumbered within the National Monuments. The Act states that those lands that will become National Monuments must be owned or controlled by the government of the United States, which has typically not been the case in much of the lands that constitute the National Monuments created within Arizona. Nowhere within the Act does it suggest that the United States has the authority to seize State Trust land, especially without state legislative approval or just compensation as required by Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 17 in the U.S. Constitution.

Protecting our lands can be enhanced with current mining operations and off roaders who want to preserve our lands for future generations to experience. Working together will protect the land far better than no trespassing signs. Allowing economic development on these lands would be a great benefit to both the state and Mohave County.

Designating these lands as a monument is taking away valuable land from the taxpayers. If we all work together, we can find ways to preserve the natural beauty of this land while at the same time keeping it open for future generations to enjoy.

Thank you for allowing us to express our concerns and for opening up this very important issue for public comment.

Sincerely,

Gary Watson

Chairman, Mohave County Board of Supervisors