Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva was honored as one of America's Great Outdoors Congressional Champions at a June 26 ceremony in Washington, D.C., as part of Great Outdoors America Week.
The Arizona Wilderness Coalition, the Sonoran Institute, The Wilderness Society (TWS) and other participating groups honored Rep. Grijalva for working to protect America's public lands and wilderness areas.
Rep. Grijalva introduced the Arizona Sonoran Desert Heritage Act (H.R. 1799) April 26 to protect roughly 954,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat and recreation areas west of Phoenix. The legislation would preserve wildlife and recreation areas, safeguard the viability of Luke Air Force Base and the Barry M. Goldwater Range, and boost economic opportunities for West Valley communities.
Grijalva has also played an integral role in creating a permanent National Landscape Conservation System within the Department of the Interior; successfully pushed to withdraw approximately 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon from new mining claims; opposed H.R. 1505, a bill that waives a series of critical environmental laws on 49 million acres of public lands within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders; supported the expansion of Saguaro National Park in cooperation with willing partners; and stood against the unpopular Rosemont Mine proposal, which would damage the ecology of the Santa Rita Mountains outside Tucson.
"Protecting our country's public lands, waters and air quality has to be one of Washington's top priorities, and I've made it mine throughout my career," Rep. Grijalva said. "It's not just a question of appreciation for the outdoors, it's a question of what kind of country we want to live in. I believe, like millions of other Americans, that protecting our sensitive and beautiful public spaces creates a better future for our children and their children. We can't pit the needs of our environment against other political interests. They have to go hand in hand. I'm proud to share those values with the Wilderness Society, I'm greatly appreciative of the work they do, and I'm very humbled by this award."
"The Arizona Wilderness Coalition, the Sonoran Institute, The Wilderness Society, and the many Arizonans we represent are thankful for Rep. Raúl Grijalva's continued commitment to Arizona's people, land, and wildlife," said Mike Quigley of The Wilderness Society in Tucson. "Rep. Grijalva has been and remains a tireless champion of America's great outdoors--working to make sure that all our lands and waters are protected for future generations to enjoy."
Great Outdoors America Week offered an opportunity for advocates to take direct action on a number of conservation issues, ranging from wilderness and national monument protection to reconnecting inner-city kids to the great outdoors. Great Outdoors America Week serves as another example of the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of conservation in the United States.