Tucson, Ariz. (July 19, 2018)—Representative Paul Gosar’s (R-AZ) Amendment (No. 63) attacking Ironwood Forest National Monument failed yesterday evening in the recorded vote, 193–220. The proposed amendment was attached to H.R. 6147, an appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior and other agencies.
Gosar’s amendment stated, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to carry out Proclamation 7320 entitled ‘Establishment of the Ironwood Forest National Monument’ issued by the President of the United States on June 9, 2000.”
Following the defeat of the amendment, Archaeology Southwest and President & CEO Bill Doelle shared this summary and statement.
The following summary comes from our colleague Angel Peña, Rio Bravo Program Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation:
Mr. Gosar spoke for his amendment on behalf of the majority, and he framed the amendment as one that “supports recreational shooting, K–12 schools, and responsible energy development.” He called the monument a “political land grab” that prevents multiple use, and he produced a map on the House floor that shows the boundaries of the monument, pointing out where mineral deposits exist within the monument boundaries.
Gosar also claimed the 188,619 acre monument protects just “640 acres of ironwood.”
He claimed Bruce Babbitt’s and President Clinton’s actions [in designating the monument] were “unconstitutional” and that local interests, including business interests, have asked for the boundaries of the monument to be modified. He said the monument has harmed education in the state by limiting revenue to education accounts in the state that come from public land revenue streams. He said the monument is an attack on ranchers by limiting grazing. He called the boundaries of the monument “a concoction” and “gerrymandering.”
House Natural Resources Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva spoke for the minority side, opposing on the basis of the “callous disregard” for public input and the nature of its attack on the history and traditions of southern Arizona, an attack on the Antiquities Act, and an attack on our public lands.
Grijalva called out the mining connection and the fact that it is a foreign-owned mining company just wanting to come in and exploit the area. He presented polling data showing that 73% of Arizona citizens oppose eliminating protections. He also debunked the recreational shooting argument, citing that shooting had been allowed until bad actors led to management changes because of harm done to ironwoods and large trash targets being left in the desert.
He pointed out that Pima County, tribes, and local citizens supported the designation, closing with this statement by Verlon Jose, Vice Chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation:
“The Tohono O’odham have lived in this region since time immemorial and Ironwood Forest National Monument has tremendous cultural and historical importance. More than 200 important archeological sites with remains from our ancestors are within the Monument, including two areas listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We must oppose misguided efforts to withhold funding from Ironwood as it would have a devastating effect on efforts to protect this national treasure.”
After debate, Mr. Grijalva requested a recorded vote, which occurred later in the evening.
“The anti-monument rhetoric Rep. Gosar spoke on the floor of the House is nothing we have not heard before, and we will no doubt hear it again. But make no mistake: with this rightful defeat, we have set an important precedent.
“We would like to thank our colleagues in this national monument defense campaign, including Friends of Ironwood National Monument, Pew Trusts, Conservation Lands Foundation, the Wilderness Society, and the Heritage Coalition; Representative Grijalva and his staff; Vice Chair Verlon Jose (Tohono O’odham Nation); Archaeology Southwest’s members; the members of the Society for American Archaeology; and all others who spoke out and secured this critical victory.”
About Archaeology Southwest
Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that explores and protects the places of our past across the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest. For three decades, Archaeology Southwest has fostered meaningful connections to the past and respectfully safeguarded its irreplaceable resources. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.
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