Pima County Opposes Transfer of National Public Lands to the State

Board of Supervisors supports sportsmen’s access and local economies over short-term economic gain

TUCSON, Ariz. – Yesterday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing any effort to transfer national public lands to the state of Arizona or local governments. The vote was held amid efforts by an Arizona State Legislature committee to examine processes to transfer, manage, and dispose of public lands within the state of Arizona.

The resolution recognizes the importance of public lands for:

  • Wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, wildlife-watching, horseback riding, bicycling, and more.
  • Meeting the objectives of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to maintain a network of interconnected lands where native habitat and natural corridors remain protected.
  • Attracting tourists and employing hundreds of county residents, who contribute in many positive ways to our community and spend their wages at local businesses.

The resolution also recognizes that the state does not have the financial capability to responsibly manage public lands—and sportsmen’s groups agree. “While federal land management certainly isn’t perfect, transferring these public lands to the state is not a viable solution, especially considering that the vast majority of Arizona sportsmen and women depend on public lands for hunting and fishing,” said John Hamill, the Arizona Field Representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Arizona simply doesn’t have the funds to maintain roads and recreation facilities, prevent and fight wildfires, restore damaged wildlife habitat, and enforce laws or prevent abuses. Ultimately, the state would be left with no choice other than to sell these lands, which, once privatized, would be off-limits to hunters and anglers forever.”

“I don’t always agree with federal policies and processes, but the Forest Service and BLM are generally good stewards and work toward conservation that’s good for Arizonans who depend on public lands for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation,” said Supervisor Ray Carroll (R-District 4), who cast his vote on the resolution yesterday. “The state is in a tough financial situation and would probably use or sell these lands to fill critical budget gaps.”

“Pima County appreciates the importance of federal public lands to the citizens of our state,” said Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition of Sonoran Desert Protection. “In 2012, voters in Pima County and throughout Arizona overwhelmingly rejected the idea of transferring ownership of public lands to the state by a two-to-one margin. The Board recognizes this fact and believes that this latest attempt to circumvent the loud voice of public opinion is a bad idea.”

A growing number of Western counties in states like Wyoming and Colorado have recently taken formal positions to oppose the sale or transfer of national public lands. To learn more about the land transfer movement across the country, visit sportsmensaccess.org.