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Reps Kirkpatrick and Gosar Discuss Economy and Forest Health at Rural Roundtable

Ryan Heinsius

Fourth Congressional District Republican Representative Paul Gosar and Democratic First District Representative Ann Kirkpatrick last week hosted a public discussion about local rural issues. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, forest health and the economy topped the list of subjects.

Gosar and Kirkpatrick are pushing for the opening of a large copper mine east of Phoenix. They say the project will add $60 billion to Arizona’s economy. Both representatives say such projects would have a significant impact on rural Arizona. Representative Kirkpatrick:

“From my standpoint it’s economic development and jobs, and so I have a vision for rural Arizona, and all of Arizona really, of a strong, diversified, stable economy,” Kirkpatrick says.

Credit Ryan Heinsius
White Mountain Apache tribal member Phil Stago addresses Gosar and Kirpatrick at the rural roundtable. He characterized a large copper mine both representatives support as "raiding ancestral land."

But, White Mountain Apache tribal member Phil Stago says the land designated for the mine is considered sacred. Another audience member cited concerns about the mine’s environmental impact.

Credit Ryan Heinsius
Flagstaff businessman LaVelle McCoy makes a comment to representatives Kirkpatrick and Gosar at the rural roundtable.

The crowd had fewer criticisms, however, on the topic of forest health, something both representatives have supported. Gosar says the projects are a necessity for the region.

“We’re surrounded by the largest ponderosa forest in the world. And so, from that standpoint we’re also victims. And what we’re doing is we're crippling ourselves by these catastrophic fires. And so, if it doesn’t succeed here, it’s not going to succeed anywhere,” Gosar says.

According to Kirkpatrick and Gosar, the roundtable discussion is the first of several such meetings to be held in their congressional districts.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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