BISBEE — In support of state Rep. Gail Griffin’s opposition to the Biden Administration’s effort to conserve at least 30% of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030, known as the “30x30 program,” Cochise County Board of Supervisors members Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby approved a resolution at the July 13 meeting supporting her stance.
Griffin’s letter to the Board asked it to “Oppose the 30x30 program, or any similar program that will set aside and prevent the productive use of millions of acres of our lands, the designation of public lands and national forests in Arizona as wilderness, wilderness study areas, wildlife preserves, open space, or other conservation land and acquiring private land from unwilling landowners.”
She asked for support for “the management of public lands and national forests under principles of multiple use and sustained yield, recognizing the nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, energy, timber, food and in careful coordination with Arizona to ensure consistency with state and local land use plans and land management policies and the protection of private property and honoring state rights as required by law.”
Crosby initiated the action, saying, “If implemented, it is likely to cause significant harm to the local tax base, schools and economy of Arizona.”
He read the proclamation Griffin forwarded to the Board: “The 30x30 program, if implemented, will conflict with the plans, policies and programs of Arizona which obligates the federal government to coordinate its policy development with the state as also required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Forest Management Act. In Arizona, there are 90 wilderness areas that comprise 4.5 million acres and a large percent of privately-owned land already being protected with perpetual conservation easements. Many of Arizona’s businesses, schools and its citizens are involved in, or otherwise depend on, industries that utilize federal lands and their natural resources, including those deemed critical minerals.”
According to Griffin, the federal government is the largest landowner in Arizona and holds 69.75% of the state’s total acreage, including 24% conserved under federal trust for tribal communities. Approximately 13% is private property and 13% is state trust lands. The state has 90 wilderness areas that comprise 4.5 million acres and a large percent of privately–owned land already being protected with perpetual conservation easements.
Crosby said, “This has to do with a very broad range of issues such as agriculture. I like to eat and most people like to eat and I want to be able to continue to eat and want to have good economic prosperity for myself, my children and hopefully grandchildren. All we’re doing is saying we want our constitutional rights, our state rights.”
Judd agreed: “I stand with that position as well. I believe it should be a state decision and actually down to property rights. I think it’s a good move in supporting our representative.”
She said she spoke with some of her constituents who might be affected by the 30x30 program. They indicated they supported Griffin’s resolution.
English said, “I’m going to have to step up on this one and tell you, I think the county has already made the statement that we are for conservation. That we do believe that we all need to take an active roll in conserving not only the beauty, but also the utility of property. I see this as simply a statement that came out of the federal government that they are going to move forward with the process that was started back in Roosevelt’s and John Muir days. If those people had not acted, you would not have Yosemite or any of the national parks or national monuments.
“It’s well known that here in this county, some of your neighbors have already sold their rights so their property would not be developed. People have the right to use their property or put a stamp on that property that says this property will never be developed. We’re not going to put acres of homes on this property. I think that that’s a great concept. I want people to be able to do that. I see that as conservation. I’m going to vote against this as I think it sets the wrong tone for the concept of conservation. Are we conservationists or not? I would like people to think of us as not only conserving money, but conserving water and property.”