Arizonans: Please Vote Yes on Prop 119 and No on Prop 120

Arizonans: Please Vote Yes on Prop 119 and No on Prop 120

Grand Canyon              Photo by NPS

Two important propositions will be on the November 2012 Arizona ballot. One of them, Proposition 119, allows for state-federal land exchanges and is good for conservation. The other, Proposition 120, would take away federal control of federal lands and would be bad for conservation and other important state and federal interests.

Proposition 119

There are over nine million acres of state trust land in Arizona and many of them are among the most scenic and environmentally important places in the state. Many of those acres are in a “checkerboard” pattern of alternating state/federal ownership, creating very difficult land management issues. Proposition 119 amends the Arizona Constitution to allow the exchange of state trust lands for other public lands with the intention of either protecting military facilities in Arizona by buffering them from development or converting the exchanged lands to public use. This last purpose would help achieve conservation goals such as removing state lands from within national monuments.

Under Proposition 119, land exchanges are made in a manner that ensures accountability and transparency. The exchange process will have an open and public process that identifies all lands that will be exchanged, requires two land appraisals, includes an analysis of the impacts, and requires two public meetings. Each land exchange must also be approved by voters, so the voters have the final say to ensure that an exchange is truly in the public’s interest.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Proposition 120

This proposition is an unconstitutional measure that would give Arizona sovereignty over federal public lands in Arizona, including Grand Canyon National Park. Its intent is to gain state control over all national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges in Arizona, get rid of the federal land managing agencies, and undermine protections provided by federal laws that guide public land management.

Asserting state sovereignty over federal lands makes no sense. The ownership of lands within the state by the federal government was part of the legislation allowing Arizona to become a state.  Reneging on that promise could cause a cascade of unknown legal issues, having the potential to affect virtually every local government in the state. It would be a massive waste of Arizona taxpayer dollars given that the American people and the federal government are not simply going to allow lands they currently own be taken away by Arizona.  In addition, the state already has difficulty funding its own state park system and management of state trust lands, let alone trying to pay for management and care of all of the federal lands within its borders.

The Grand Canyon Trust encourages you to vote YES on Proposition 119 because it is good for conservation and in the best interest of the schools and other beneficiaries of the state land trust. The Trust encourages you to vote NO on Proposition 120 because it unconstitutionally undermines federal control of federal lands such as Grand Canyon National Park.

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