At statehood, the federal government promised all states that it would transfer title for all public lands within the states. The U.S. Supreme Court has called these promises “solemn compacts,” “bilateral (two-way) agreements,” and “solemn trusts” that must be performed “in a timely fashion.”
With the vote of 35-15, SB1332 was changed from requiring that Washington turn over “public lands” to a demand that they do so. If it passes the Senate, it will place Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in the position that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert found himself in when he signed similar legislation last month, do they join the Western land war: 5 states fight D.C. for control of federal areas.
The fight centers on the millions of acres of lands that were never turned over to the western states after they were admitted to the union. These lands are being held in “trust” for the “public” but they hold valuable resources that the states feel they have a right too. The following list shows what these states see as unequal treatment by the federal government. The percentage of land that is under the control of the feds west of the Mississippi is staggering and they want it turned over as promised in the Enabling Acts that brought these states into existence .
- Nevada 84.5%
- Alaska 69.1%
- Utah 57.4%
- Oregon 53.1%
- Idaho 50.2%
- Arizona 48.1%
- California 45.3%
- Wyoming 42.3%
- New Mexico 41.8%
- Colorado 36.6%
Now compare that to other states and you will be able to understand why the western states feel that they must demand respect for their sovereignty and their lands as promised.
- Connecticut 0.4%
- Rhode Island 0.4%
- Iowa 0.8%
- New York 0.8%
- Maine 1.1%
- Kansas 1.2%
- Nebraska 1.4%
- Alabama 1.6%
- Ohio 1.7%
- Illinois 1.8%
The argument has been the definition of a “timely manner” for turning over these lands but as you can see by the dates of admittance to the union these states have been more than patient with Washington’s failure to keep its promises.
- Nevada Oct 31, 1864
- Alaska Jan 3, 1959
- Utah Jan 4, 1896
- Oregon Feb 14, 1859
- Idaho Jul 3, 1890
- Arizona Feb 14, 1912
- California Sep 9, 1850
- Wyoming Jul 10, 1890
- New Mexico Jan 6, 1912
- Colorado Aug 1, 1876
“The bill’s chief supporter said environmental constraints put on mining, logging and other resource industries limit how federally controlled public land can be used in the West, to the detriment of states’ economic prosperity.”
“This will take the shackles off of us and allow us to prosper,” Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, said during a March committee hearing on the bill. “This will be a major game-changer.”
“The Utah law and the Arizona bill both call for formation of a state commission to decide details of how the transfers of control of public land would work.”
For State Sovereignty to mean anything then these western states must gain control over the lands within their borders.
If you live in Arizona – act NOW. Not tomorrow or next week. Today, not tomorrow – right now.
1. Visit the link below for contact information for your Senator:
2. Click on your senator’s name and get their email address and TWO phone numbers – capitol and district offices.
3. CALL them. Best option – respectfully, yet firmly urge them to pass this bill. Let them know that you want them to stand up for the Constitution of the United States AND the Constitution of Arizona – they took an oath to both.
4. EMAIL them – even if call, you can still email too. Alternatively, just send them a firm but courteous email urging them to vote yes on this bill.
5. Do the same for the Governor’s office – 602) 542-4331 or (520) 628-6580 http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp
6. Report Back – when you get responses, let us know! We want people to be informed of what their delegates are saying and doing.
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