This fall, Arizona voters will have the opportunity to stop an attempted land grab by the Arizona State Legislature. Proposition 120 – referred to the ballot by the Legislature – would amend the Arizona Constitution to assert state sovereignty and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife, and other natural resources. This extreme amendment would set in motion a demand by the state that all federal public lands – national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, wilderness areas, recreation areas, historic lands, and more – be turned over to state and potentially private ownership. There are roughly 25 million acres of federal public lands in Arizona, comprising approximately 41 percent of the Arizona’s land mass, and including wildland gems such as Grand Canyon, Tonto National Forest, and Saguaro National Park.
The state of Arizona is neglecting its responsibility to state parks, so it certainly cannot afford to absorb responsibility for these important public lands. Governor Jan 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. If passed and implemented, Prop 120 would be a budget disaster for the state. Considering the effectiveness of the state at managing the lands it already has under its control, it’s ludicrous to think that our state could properly manage these additional public lands. For years now, the state has been slashing funding for state parks; would they close or try to sell Grand Canyon?
Through this proposition, the Legislature seeks 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.
Our public lands are Arizona’s and our nation’s heritage. These lands fuel our economy, support our wildlife heritage, and sustain our quality of life. Ninety percent of Arizonans – from all across the political spectrum – view parks and public lands “as essential to our state’s economy.” These national icons have shaped who we are not only as Arizonans, but also as Americans. It is our individual freedom and right as citizens of this country to experience and enjoy the great outdoors.
Aside from these sufficiently significant concerns, this proposition is irreconcilable with the US Constitution as well as other provisions in the Arizona Constitution. Additionally, when Arizona became a state 100 years ago, we made a contractual obligation with the rest of the nation regarding these lands and resources. Prop 120 is an attempt to break this contract. Again, as Governor Jan Brewer points out we “must be mindful and respecful of our federal system.”
We urge you to VOTE NO on Proposition 120 – Stop the Arizona Legislature’s Land Grab!
Find out more about the campaign at www.NoOnProp120.com.