Guest Column: No on 120: Arizona can't afford to take control of US lands

2012-10-30T00:00:00Z Guest Column: No on 120: Arizona can't afford to take control of US landsCarolyn Campbell Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Americans love their national parks and other federal public lands. And so do Arizonans. Arizona is blessed to have some of the most phenomenal - and varied - parks, forests, monuments, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and more, in the entire country.

According to a recent Colorado College poll, 90 percent of Arizonans - from all across the political spectrum - agree that these lands are "an essential part of Arizona's economy." These federal public lands support the state's wildlife heritage and sustain Arizona's enviable quality of life.

But the Arizona Legislature would like to change that, and is asking us, the voters, to make the federal government hand these lands over to the Arizona state government to own and manage.

This constitutional amendment, Proposition 120 on the ballot, would set in motion a demand by the state that all federal public lands in Arizona - roughly 30 million acres including wildland gems such as Grand Canyon National Park, Coconino National Forest and Saguaro National Park - be turned over to the state.

Proposition 120 would amend the Arizona Constitution to assert state sovereignty and establish that the state has exclusive authority and jurisdiction over all air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state.

Arizona - whose state parks system is in a perpetual state of neglect - literally cannot afford to absorb responsibility for these important public lands. Oracle State Park north of Tucson has only recently reopened following severe budget cuts from the last few years, and even now can only open one day a week. This idea is extreme enough that when the Legislature attempted to adopt this as a bill, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it. Gov. Brewer estimates that the state would need millions "in additional dollars and an untold increase in staff and resources," not including any additional liability costs, in order to manage these lands.

Proposition 120 is another example of this Legislature's harsh and unrelenting attack against conservation stewardship and natural resource protection.

Through this proposition, the Legislature is seeking to undermine protections provided by federal environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

These laws are the bedrock of an environmental legacy forged over the last 50 years and are critical to protecting one of the most ecologically rich regions of the country for all Americans.

Given all the important work needing to be done in Arizona, it is unfortunate that our Legislature is spending energy on an effort such as this one.

Proposition 120 is a bad idea for Arizona; please vote no on Prop. 120 and stop the Legislature's land grab.

Carolyn Campbell chairs the No On Prop 120 - Stop Legislature's Land Grab committee.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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