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Public Lands:
declaration of emergency; state authority

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SCR1008
Sponsor: Allen, Griffin, Klein, et al.
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session

SCR1008 declaration of emergency; state authority (Allen, Griffin, Klein, et al.) states that the legislature declares an emergency in Arizona and that “due to lack of congressional oversight and the violations of trust with their disregard for strict compliance with the acts of Congress, the State of Arizona will be exercising its right of sovereignty over soil within its boundaries,” meaning proposing to take control of federal public lands.

First of all, the state cannot even properly fund and care for its state park system or fund the State Land Department to manage state trust lands, so how would it take control of and even consider managing federal public lands?

Second of all, these lands do not belong to the legislature, a majority of legislators, or only to the people of Arizona. These parks, forests, monuments, and more, are public lands that belong to all Americans.

Status

This bill has been stalled for several weeks.  It is hard to know whether or not it will advance.

Action Needed

To send a message to your representatives and ask them to vote no on this, just click on NO on SCR1008.

Background

Furthermore, this bill is clearly unconstitutional and is contrary to our state’s enabling act, which states:

“That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated and ungranted public lands lying within the boundaries thereof and to all lands lying within said boundaries owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, the right or title to which shall have been acquired through or from the United States or any prior sovereignty, and that until the title of such Indian or Indian tribes shall have been extinguished the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition and under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States . . . .”

Act June 20, 1910, c. 310, 36 U.S.Stat. 557, 568— 579

That seems pretty clear – “forever disclaim all right and title.”

As noted above, the national forests are public lands – they belong to all of the American people, not just the few who might benefit from logging the last of the big trees and causing more harm with salvage logging, which promotes soil erosion and takes away much of the remaining wildlife habitat after a fire.  This bill implies that they are not and that they should be available for exploitation without any safeguards for the people of the state and the country.

Finally, these lands are also supported strongly by the public throughout the west and in Arizona. A 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll, completed in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), found that voters across the west and 9 in 10 Arizona voters agreed that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are “an essential part” of the economies of these states, and the quality of life of residents.  Four in five western voters view having a strong economy and protecting land and water as compatible. The poll surveyed 2,400 registered voters in six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) January 2 through 5 & 7, 2012, and yields a margin of error of + 2.0 percent nationwide and +4.9 statewide.

     
     

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