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Bill introduced to protect tribal resources, create The Great Bend of the Gila Conservation Act

File image: Saguaros in the Sonoran Desert
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Saguaro cacti at sunrise, with the setting moon in the distance. Sonoran Desert, Arizona.

Legislation was introduced today to protect one of the most culturally significant and ecologically fragile landscapes in the Southwest.

The Great Bend of the Gila Conservation Act will establish a 330,000-acre conservation area, as well as the 47,000-acre Palo Verde National Conservation Area and nearly 60,000 acres of new wilderness in the Sonoran Desert.

At least 13 Indigenous First Nations have connections to the area. The Great Bend of the Gila was a meeting point various peoples and cultures for thousands of years. They built communities, created art and cultivated the land through innovative irrigation canals.

The new conservation act, introduced by Arizona’s Raul Grijalva, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, will protect the area from further degradation, new road and mineral development and require the creation of new management plans to prevent resource damage.

The bill is supported by numerous Tribes including the Gila River Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation.