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Arizona Land Exchange Bill (HR 1904) is Not Collaborative Conservation
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By AccessFund HQ
Oct 17, 2012
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From the High Country News (www.hcn.org/issues/44.17/collaborative-conservation)

Collaborative Conservation
by Curt Shannon, Arizona Policy Analyst, Access Fund

In a July 18 High Country News article, Luther Propst explained the Sonoran Institute's approach to collaborative conservation and referred to the proposed Resolution copper mine near Superior, Arizona as an example of that philosophy (Beyond the Politics of No). After all, the location of that mine is in a well-established mining district. Luther qualified his support by calling for the "right kind of mitigation" to be employed by Resolution.

The Access Fund, which works to conserve rock-climbing areas and keep them open, does not believe that Resolution's proposal embodies the spirit of collaborative conservation. An enormous amount of mitigation would be required to reach any sort of reasonable balance with recreationists, Native Americans and environmentalists.

We are not an anti-mining organization. Representing the interests of some 2.3 million climbers around the United States, we work to find collaborative solutions that balance the interests of climbers with competing interests such as mining. Our approach to complicated land-use issues is often similar to that of the Sonoran Institute. However, the Access Fund's only viable option is to oppose the current Resolution mining plan.

Resolution plans to obtain ownership of Tonto National Forest land at Oak Flat through a federal legislative land exchange (HR 1904). This land has been specifically protected from mining activity for over 50 years. In the early 1950s, the Eisenhower administration instructed the Tonto Forest Supervisor to select recreation areas for protection that were of high recreational value and that were also likely to have "future conflict with mining." The administration proved prophetic; mining companies have asked the Forest Service numerous times over the years if the mining withdrawal at Oak Flat could be lifted. Each time the Forest Service has denied the request because the area was still heavily used for camping and recreation. Resolution's mining method would lead to massive surface subsidence. This land that has been protected would be completely destroyed.

And lifting the long-standing protections for Oak Flat isn't the only troubling aspect of the Resolution land exchange bill. HR 1904 proposes to completely bypass National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis before conveying the land to Resolution. The language contained in the bill simply states that the land exchange is "in the public interest" and denies the Secretary of Agriculture his normal ability to make a public interest determination based on a proper NEPA analysis.

This bill does not represent good public policy. While we do not dispute the right of Congress to make public interest determinations, we do question whether such a determination should be made without first having access to the very NEPA data on which an informed determination would be based.

Yet another concern is that Oak Flat is an area of great cultural and traditional value to the San Carlos Apaches. HR 1904 does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the San Carlos tribe, which uses this area for acorn gathering, sunrise ceremonies, sweat lodge events, and other cultural and traditional purposes.

The Access Fund believes that Resolution needs to fundamentally rethink its mining plan to find a solution that is compatible with Oak Flat's other high-value land uses. That kind of compromise--in conjunction with a proper NEPA review--would truly embody the concept of collaborative conservation.

Curt Shannon
Arizona Policy Analyst, Access Fund
Gilbert, Arizona


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Oct 17, 2012
tanuki

I am very happy to see the Access Fund speaking out against the land exchange and the mining of this land.


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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Oct 17, 2012
Stoked...

+ 1,000,000


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By Red
From Arizona
Oct 17, 2012
Cobra Kai

Well written, Curt.

NEPA first!


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By kirra
Oct 17, 2012

AccessFund HQ wrote:
However, the Access Fund's only viable option is to oppose the current Resolution mining plan.

" " wrote:
Resolution's mining method would lead to massive surface subsidence.

" " wrote:
This land that has been protected would be completely destroyed....This bill does not represent good public policy.

good points *Curt is anything being done (meetings etc) in D.C. by the AF to insure this land exchange bill doesn't slip into the Senate on the back of a lame duck or ? *many thanks


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Oct 17, 2012
Trying to redpoint The Ugly 11c; steeper than it looks and the rock is scary in spots but good enough.

Keep up the good work Curt. Mitigating the destruction of Oak Flat has been a direction we have wanted RCM to follow since this began. I'm sure the others involved want the same thing if the land swap goes forward.


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By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Oct 17, 2012
Toofast

Thanks Curt, glad to hear that the AF has taken this position. Has the AF communicated this to RCM directly?


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By BenClimbing
Oct 17, 2012

Well said, Curt. It is uplifting to see the Access Fund, climbers' most influential special interest representative, speak out on our behalf in such a fair and even-handed way in a public forum. This is, by far, the closest to my own feelings on the subject that I have seen put in words. Keep up the good work!


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By Senior Hernandez
Oct 18, 2012
on the trip

chufftard wrote:
Great response! Where is the one for the Crystal Cave closure?


Access to all crags should be important but:

The population of AZ is three times larger than the population of NM, and thus, Arizona gets three times more attention than NM from "the fund". Poops and lawyers everywhere in AZ Chuffnob, don't cha no??


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By kirra
Oct 18, 2012

Tonto wrote:
Arizona gets three times more attention than NM from "the fund".

what makes you so sure ?

Tonto wrote:
Poops and lawyers everywhere in AZ Chuffnob, don't cha no??

poops hahah

curt posted on a different thread last night not here did I miss something was anything censored ?!?!?

perhaps the power went out... obviously the answers to important questions now undoubtedly rest in the hands of... {{holymoley}}

Yo Tonto where is Da loneRanger-eh ?


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By David Arthur Sampson
Oct 19, 2012
Slap/Tickle

Well written Curt. Thanks for sharing.


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By J Q
Oct 19, 2012
Me again!

AccessFund HQ wrote:
HR 1904 does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the San Carlos tribe, which uses this area for acorn gathering, sunrise ceremonies, sweat lodge events, and other cultural and traditional purposes.



I am worried about your support of this issue. It seems to be a new pattern: set a precedent of the "natives" being able to lay a claim on a "cultural area" and see it disappear as an area for anyone to use but the "natives" who have laid a claim. I am just saying that we are not in the same tribe, period, just ask them. They are not so easy to take advantage of anymore and use for your own purposes. They would like as much of their country back as possible, caution!


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Oct 19, 2012
Trying to redpoint The Ugly 11c; steeper than it looks and the rock is scary in spots but good enough.

What the tribe wants is to keep using the area the same as we do. Mine the copper and don't destroy the land. Easy compromise.

Even if the tribe kept the land away from mining and kept me from climbing there it would be a far better thing than allowing all the damage and pollution this mine, in its present form, may cause.


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By J Q
Oct 20, 2012
Me again!

The mine is a terrible idea, but the idea of supporting more climbing areas being categorized as cultural properties is not a good idea either. This designation could result in the removal of rights for other recreational groups to access this area and then the process of designating more climbing areas as cultural properties just became easier, hence the term precedent. A ruling like this could effect much more than one pinche climbing area in AZ, like the entire country.

Is it really a choice between a douche and a turd sandwich, or might we be able to find a burrito around the corner?


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Oct 20, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Mr. Q. just went cowboys and Indians on us. Or climbers and Indians.

Seriously? You think the future of climbing is at risk to the Savage Red Man? You come out of the danger of a mining operation that renders vast tracts of land completely unusable to foreseeable generations prioritizing the phantom menace of Native Americans to climbing? And do so by questioning the understanding of somebody who has worked about as hard and intimately with the issue as anybody?

Talk about a turd sandwich. I guess you can blame Arizona when every climbing area is re-possessed by the tribes as is so imminent in your comprehensive understanding of these press ee dince you speak of. Help stop the genocide of our climbing lands, brah!


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By J Q
Oct 20, 2012
Me again!

Colonel Mustard wrote:
Mr. Q. just went cowboys and Indians on us. Or climbers and Indians. Seriously? You think the future of climbing is at risk to the Savage Red Man? You come out of the danger of a mining operation that renders vast tracts of land completely unusable to foreseeable generations prioritizing the phantom menace of Native Americans to climbing? And do so by questioning the understanding of somebody who has worked about as hard and intimately with the issue as anybody? Talk about a turd sandwich. I guess you can blame Arizona when every climbing area is re-possessed by the tribes as is so imminent in your comprehensive understanding of these press ee dince you speak of. Help stop the genocide of our climbing lands, brah!


So yes, you can only see douches and turd sandwiches and that, Z, is sad. Some people actually appreciate crags that are being looked at in the exact way I described above. The threat is serious. If the other users are just asking for access to a recreational area than I am all for it. If the area is being designated as "special" for one group than I see problems, especially because of the "cultural property" terminology.

I don't even know if that is a possibility in this case because the specifics were vague,

AccessFund HQ wrote:
cultural and traditional purposes.


but I have seen it happen, I have tried to fight it, and I do know how hopeless that was. Your use of hyperbole makes you look like a screaming child.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Oct 20, 2012
Colonel Mustard

The people you are calling out with your spurious slippery slope of an argument have a much better idea what resources need to be employed and who their allies are. They are people who actively contribute to the climbing scene there and have had their chips all in for a long time. And you are...?

Who knows though, they may want to change their entire strategy based on some half-baked legal theories originating from an anonymous curmudgeon who talks in terms of douches and turd sandwiches while denigrating their climbing scene. Sounds likely.


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By kirra
Oct 21, 2012

Jonhy Q wrote:
the idea of supporting more climbing areas being categorized as cultural properties is not a good idea either.


Hi JonhyQ - - I don't think there's been any major policy changes regarding important strategies and the continued equal sharing of ALL resources between all stakeholders of Oak Flat & QC. Manny may be just expressing a relative but hypothetically point of view

while it may not be a bad thing for any cultural monuments to be properly located, imo such a find might only increase the historical & cultural value of the people's land to our public representatives. It maybe a good thing like an endangered animal being found or another ocelot

WE ALL OWN THIS -Oak Flat *public land* belongs to the people and as long as you understand this then RCM's destiny could be a Chpt.11 filing some day

i would think you would be more up in arms about some of your own selling out, forcing others to join their group (and endorse the land exchange) or they won't let you climb on their rocks -btw wuzzup with that?

Native Americans never had a split decision on whether they should save the area or trade it away
.02


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By J Q
Oct 21, 2012
Me again!

kirra wrote:
Oak Flat *public land* belongs to the people .02



That's good to know, but public polices are not always agreed upon, and really, the tribe doesn't need to agree on anything with other groups if they can prove it is a cultural property.

If I hear that the elders from this tribe were supporting access for all, I would change my tune. In my 30+ years of dealing with these types of access issues, this has never been the case, and that is why I recommended caution here. Does anyone actually know what this particular tribes intention are for this area, or are we all just assuming that we can hug our genocidal history out?


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Oct 21, 2012
Colonel Mustard

chufftard wrote:
You seem to know a lot about everything everywhere colonel.


Yes. Thank you.

I lived in nearby Phoenix for some years, climbed in the area, and know some of the people involved with this struggle.

I now live near an area touched by the same tribal issues. You win some, you lose some, no need to cry about it. If a mining conglomerate renders the land unusable by anybody ever, that strikes me as the priority and perhaps the AF is leveraging the supposed tribal court mojo you've talked about in order to stop it.

Unless one of you is tribal council, or has more than anecdotal experience, however, I don't really buy the slippery slope you're selling.

My feeling is the legal secretary advice is all moot. Billions of dollars in copper versus some recreational concerns and some Apaches. Figure it out.


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By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Oct 24, 2012
Trying to redpoint The Ugly 11c; steeper than it looks and the rock is scary in spots but good enough.

Chufftard: The area's cultural significance to the San Carlos Tribe is indisputable. They lived and died there. Apache Leap is a formation above the town of Superior. It is named for the tragedy that struck the tribe when some of their people were either thrown off by their captors or jumped. Nowadays they pick acorns and recently returned to have a sunrise ceremony in the area (I was glad to have been invited).

The tribe has shown a friendly face to climbing in the past but they did close down Seneca Falls. It is a long story but not climbers' fault. Our support has been welcomed by the San Carlos Apache and they have been a great ally in fighting the land swap legislation.

In a previous post I said, hypothetically, that I would rather see it closed to climbing and become tribal land than have it sink into the earth and lost to everyone. That isn't what I would like to see and it is just my opinion.


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By J Q
Oct 24, 2012
Me again!

manuel rangel wrote:
Chufftard: The area's cultural significance to the San Carlos Tribe is indisputable. They lived and died there. Apache Leap is a formation above the town of Superior. It is named for the tragedy that struck the tribe when some of their people were either thrown off by their captors or jumped. Nowadays they pick acorns and recently returned to have a sunrise ceremony in the area (I was glad to have been invited). The tribe has shown a friendly face to climbing in the past but they did close down Seneca Falls. It is a long story but not climbers' fault. Our support has been welcomed by the San Carlos Apache and they have been a great ally in fighting the land swap legislation. In a previous post I said, hypothetically, that I would rather see it closed to climbing and become tribal land than have it sink into the earth and lost to everyone. That isn't what I would like to see and it is just my opinion.


Every area in this United States is indisputably significant to one tribe or another. However, some tribes no longer exist, and some tribes have been decimated to the point of obscurity, and it becomes easy to forget that fact. This should be very interesting to see what happens on all fronts, Federal, local, and tribal. While I am sure they are happy to have some legal help in the designating of this area as a cultural property, have you ever asked members of the tribe what they intend to do with the area if it indeed is labeled as a cultural property?

manuel rangel wrote:
What the tribe wants is to keep using the area the same as we do. .


How do you know this? If they closed Senaca falls, why wouldn't they want this area to themselves as well?


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By ClimbandMine
Oct 31, 2012

Hey Curt,

If you aren't anti-mining, can you name a mine that you support being built?

Rosemont?

Bingham (Salt Lake) expansions?

Morenci expansions?

Pinto Valley?

Any mines that you support?

Just curious.

Cheers.


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By ClimbPHX.com
From Mesa AZ
Nov 1, 2012
Final Pitch on Birdland - 5.7 Red Rocks

Personally I know a member of the Rosemont Board. They have done a great job of collaborating with U of A on sustainable mining practices and assisting the areas that have been affected by mining in recovering.
Check em out

Shiloh
ClimbPHX.com


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By Catherine Conner
From Phoenix, AZ
Nov 1, 2012
Contemplative-what is ahead?

Oh wow, excellent job Curt.... Proud. Proud of Access Fund.


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