47 Public Lands, Wilderness & Environmental Groups Blast Riders in Defense Bill

Part of the 449 page Public Lands Rider Package on the $585 Billion Defense Bill includes the SE Arizona Land Exchange, which will give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands (pictured above).

Part of the 449 page Public Lands Rider Package on the $585 Billion Defense Bill includes the SE Arizona Land Exchange, which will give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands (pictured above).

A coalition of 47 public lands, Wilderness and environmental organizations from across the country have issued a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate demanding the removal of damaging public land “riders” that have been added to the Defense Authorization Bill, which passed the U.S. House last week and now awaits action in the Lame Duck senate.

Title XXX (30) of the bill includes several controversial and harmful public land proposals, including an exchange of National Forest land to a foreign-owned mining company seeking to operate a mine on land sacred to the Apache, a giveaway of 70,000 acres on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Sealaska Corporation, notorious for its scorched-earth logging practices, and a stealth provision that removes protections from two Wilderness Study Areas in eastern Montana. The bill also contains numerous public land conveyances as well as Wilderness bills with special provisions allowing helicopter use and habitat manipulation.

The coalition of 47 organizations is calling on the Senate to remove Title XXX from the Defense Bill. Some proposals thrown into the mix would gain the groups’ strong support as stand-alone legislation, but the bill’s numerous “poison pills” mean that too high a price would be paid for a few conservation gains. The groups are submitting their letter to Senators ahead of its being brought to the Floor Tuesday.

UPDATE: This video produced by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition gives more information about the SE Arizona Land Exchange, which will give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands.

15 Comments

  1. OK, I’ll mention it, here. Some extreme eco-groups have “earned” this response from Congress. Clearly, Congress does not care about those eco-groups, and will, once again, “work together” using the old and time-tested traditions of using riders to push their own pork, while leaving others to push for their own projects, as well. Welcome to the world of political physics, where every political action results in an equal and opposite reaction.

    I think we need term limits, because local voters will never vote out their own political favorites. We need an end to career politicians, who serve their party, instead of their constituents.

        • Larry and Nancy (from comment below): It’s sort of amazing to me how you can take the fact that part of the 449 page Public Lands Rider Package on the $585 Billion Defense Bill includes the SE Arizona Land Exchange, which will give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands, and ship the copper to China to be processed…..and somehow turn this into “stewardship of those lands” and make comments about logging. That’s not at all any part of the issue here in any way, shape or form.

          Oh, by the way, the mining corporation, Rio Tinto, also happens to co-own a uranium mine with the Iranian Government, so it’s somewhat ironic that this rider in contained in the $585 Billion Defense Bill.

  2. If anyone “earned” something lately it was the likes of the Koch brothers and other special interest groups who bought and paid for the mid term election. They are being helped to their rewards at cost to the American public and the land entrusted to the government. It’s amazing how corruption can be so casual and open…and we go about our business as if it’s all OK.

  3. You are right about forest management by the Apaches. It should be noted that they also closed their camping area for the Memorial Day holiday because of fire danger, whereas the National Forest did not.
    An analysis of the Wallow Fire, the biggest fire in Arizona’s history, in 2011 illustrated that the forest protection management on Native American lands did make a difference. Jonathan Brooks, tribal forest manager for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, said sound forest-management strategies helped check the wildfire on the Nations’ lands.
    Brooks explained that for decades, the tribe has cleared young trees, logged larger trees and burned underbrush to replicate the natural burn-and-growth cycle of the Ponderosa pine forest. Therefore, the firefighters were able to create a backfire in the Nation’s to deprive the approaching Wallow Fire of fuel.
    “Had this area not been thinned, logged, prescribe-burned, we wouldn’t have been able to do a burnout operation here – so the fire would’ve been able to come through here unchecked,” explained Brooks.

    A Bureau of Indian Affairs report that analyzed the Wallow Fire’s impact on tribal lands confirms Brooks’ assessment. Reports also show that the Wallow Fire killed fewer trees on the Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache reservations because it burned less intensely.

  4. It’s funny watching the angst over the Congressional actions. Of course, I didn’t say, or even imply that such actions were good. It’s merely a sign of the times, where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the very few who support “Whatever Happens”. If you think THIS is bad, wait until the next Congress goes into power. We’ll see Democrats embracing the tactics the Republicans have been using. We’ll see a flood of bills on the President’s desk that he won’t sign. We’ll also see a similar flood of bills that get vetoed, too. It’s just more of the same old sh*t in a brand new bottle.

    Luckily, as the public becomes more educated on Forest Service issues, we’ll see more of the public against those preservationist groups. Let’s hope Congress will identify and address those trends.

  5. Well, kids, I’ve been kind of busy with parental issues. But I just had to say something here.
    John McCain got this ball rolling trying to get the mine started with his land swap. That had everyone dogpiling on with their pet project.
    The RMFHA could never pass on its own merit, so it had to be packaged. Never mind the CMA’s are wilderness for all practical purposes, with access almost nothing except terribly maintained mainstem roads, which will be maintained even worse in the future. But RMFHA was pretty much dead. I guess the coal companies and the land swaps were Daines’ way of pandering to them without worrying too much about the relatively few Front ranchers affected, or the already-banished motorheads, or the last guy trying to drill a well after 30 plus years 3 miles from US 2.
    One thing, this is a screaming indictment of federal sacrifice games, a really good reason why these lands should go to state control. Porkulus cramnibus bills are lousy policy.

  6. This S.E. Az. Land Exchange bill is bad for Arizona. We are in a 15 year drought & our Congress will be allowing a mine that will use over 5 BILLION gallons of water every single year it is in production, to destroy a public campground that is not only used by the Apaches but also by church groups, scouts, rock climbers, birders, hikers, hunters, atv ers, 4 wheelers, short wave radio operators and more. If the bill goes thru there will be no NEPA because once the land is “theirs” they will not have to comply with federal regulations, only state regulations and we know Arizona is extremely lax when it comes to mining and they will pass any legislation and allow any mine to do anything it wants. Of course, we the public will pick up the tab after these foreign mining companies leave, and it becomes a Super Fund site. There must be someone in the Senate who will stand up for public lands that belong to ALL Americans.

  7. John McCain is grandstanding about jobs this mine would create. It is a fiction to say that this mine will create jobs. It would displace jobs that tourism has already created, with a net loss in jobs to the area. It is planned to be the biggest deepest blockade mine done to-date. The mine would be up to 7000 feet deep and the ground temperature is about 170 degrees (F) at the depth of this mine. There would be no people (jobs) down there. The robots would be designed in Australia and probably be built in Indonesia or China’s slave enclaves. Much of the robotics probably would be controlled remotely, as in Australia-remotely. The few mining engineers and other miners required at the site would be roving specialists that come to this Arizona mine from other countries and states. This mine would then produce copper to go onto the international market, controlled by foreign company that would take the profits out of state/nation and deplete our natural resources. What a con-game McCain is playing. I guess he is used to it, getting into politics and shortly thereafter helping to run our savings & loans institutions into the ground, as the head of the congressional oversight committee for that industry.

  8. . . .If this mine were ever to be done in a more responsible way, they would back-fill the multi-hundred foot high ore body as they mined, so that there would be no collapse of the earth above. They are not interested in responsibility, of course, but only in their bottom lines.

  9. Pingback: Some Context on the Defense Bill Riders: Public Lands Losses Far Outweigh Any Wins | A New Century of Forest Planning

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