Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

News Release for immediate release Wednesday, 3/13/02

Daniel Patterson, CBD Desert Ecologist 520.906.2159 or 520.623.5252 x 306
Julie Sherman, Sierra Club AZ Monuments Organizer 602.254.0361 or 602.758.8878
More Information: Copy of the Bill (pdf)

Rep. Stump drafting bill to gut conservation of Agua Fria National Monument

WASHINGTON, DC -- Scenic public lands and rich riparian habitat within Arizona's Agua Fria National Monument are under attack by Congressman Bob Stump (R-AZ).

On January 11, 2000, President Clinton protected 71,000 acres along the Agua Fria River between Phoenix and Flagstaff as the Agua Fria National Monument "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." said Clinton.

The Center for Biological Diversity recently obtained a draft bill that Stump plans to introduce to Congress. Stump is pushing to remove land from the monument, allow for urban sprawl and freeway widening along about 20 miles of I-17, and increase livestock and energy industry threats on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Monument.

"Bob Stump is trying to deal anti-environmental cards under the table to industry and Gov. Hull." said Daniel Patterson, Desert Ecologist. "Most Arizonans want these Monuments protected, but Stump isn't talking to them as he steals our natural heritage out the back door."

In his proclamation the President declared, "The monument contains one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest." He added, "This expansive mosaic of semi-desert grassland, cut by ribbons of valuable riparian forest, is an outstanding biological resource. The diversity of vegetative communities, topographical features, and relative availability of water provide habitat for a wide array of sensitive wildlife species, including the lowland leopard frog, the Mexican garter snake, the common black hawk, and the desert tortoise. Other wildlife is abundant and diverse, including pronghorn, mule deer, and white-tail deer. Javelina, mountain lions, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and neotropical migratory birds also inhabit the area. Elk and black bear are present, but less abundant. Four species of native fish, including the longfin dace, the Gila mountain sucker, the Gila chub, and the speckled dace, exist in the Agua Fria River and its tributaries."

Stump's bill would harm the Agua Fria National Monument by:

  • Precluding wilderness protection and possible future Monument expansion.
  • Establishing an anti-environmental oversight group that would micro-manage BLM.
  • Allowing new power lines and off-road vehicle travel by the energy industry.
  • Widening the right-of-way 400 feet beyond current limits along 20 miles of I-17.
  • Increasing livestock developments and encouraging BLM to ignore overgrazing.
  • Shrinking the Monument by directly removing at least 320 acres of BLM lands.
  • Mandating a plan that favors and protects ranching and recreation over wildlife.

"Agua Fria is a national treasure. It protects a free-flowing desert river, native wildlife, and hundreds of important cultural sites," said Julie Sherman, Sierra Club conservation organizer. "This bill would undermine all the protections currently in place to preserve these natural and cultural values."

The draft bill is available from Daniel Patterson. Contact Mike Taylor of BLM at 623.580.5500.


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