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Congress Moves to Block Proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument

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Jim Dougherty
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The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment to a bill that would limit the president’s ability to set aside federal lands for conservation. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the move is aimed in part at preventing the possible designation of a Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

The amendment would block funds allocated to the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies from being used to manage such monuments. It would apply to western states where there’s public debate over land management issues.

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar spearheaded the amendment.

“I think everybody can agree that we need to protect certain areas but it needs to be done in stewardship with local and state officials. There’s a process to go through. It wasn’t supposed to be easy to pass designations, it wasn’t supposed to be easy to pass any type of bill. It was supposed to have many views, many inputs,” Gosar says.

Supporters of the amendment say the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument would negatively impact grazing, hunting and forest restoration.

Conservation groups like the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council say establishing the monument would protect critical habitat and old-growth forests.

The 1.7-million-acre proposal surrounding Grand Canyon National Park would be created by executive order through the Antiquities Act.

Last week, President Obama declared three new national monuments totaling more than a million acres in California, Texas and Nevada. During his presidency, he’s designated 19 national monuments.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers 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 frequent contributor to NPR.
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