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Grijalva: Bills Seek to Protect Public Lands, Culture, Economy

PHOTO: Congressman Raúl Grijalva is sponsoring three bills in Congress to protect public lands and cultural resources in southern Arizona, lending some certainty to the state's outdoor recreation economy. Photo credit: Representative Raúl Grijalva.
PHOTO: Congressman Raúl Grijalva is sponsoring three bills in Congress to protect public lands and cultural resources in southern Arizona, lending some certainty to the state's outdoor recreation economy. Photo credit: Representative Raúl Grijalva.
June 30, 2015

PHOENIX – Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D–Tucson) is sponsoring three bills in Congress which he says seek to better protect and preserve public lands, cultural resources and the economy.

The proposed legislation would create multiple heritage and conservation areas on over two million acres of public land, on or near the Sonoran Desert National Monument, the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Luke Air Force Base, and additional areas in southern Arizona.

Along with protecting wildlife corridors and ecosystems, Grijalva says the added protections would generate more tourism.

"That attracts people that will bring, as tourists, both their interest and their revenue to the state," he says. "I think that is a critical economic development issue too."

Grijalva adds the legislation would better protect ancient Native American ruins, and preserve areas popular for outdoor recreation.

Jim Uken, former director of the Barry M. Goldwater Range, says the legislation would help limit encroachment on public lands near the range and Luke Air Force Base. The area is home to several animal species, including pronghorn antelope.

Uken also says protecting Arizona's military assets is of "huge" economic importance.

"There's a value assigned to each base, but essentially, the military-industrial complex in the state is probably somewhere in the vicinity of $9 billion," says Uken. "Luke [AFB] is the most significant contributor."

It's reported that Luke Air Force Base has more than 7,000 employees, and adds over $2 billion to the economy each year.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ