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Kyl, McCain Introduce Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Kyl, McCain Introduce Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), along with U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), today introduced the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007 (S. 1862), a bill that facilitates an important land exchange that will protect environmentally sensitive lands, while providing a much-needed economic engine for the Town of Superior and surrounding communities.

"It is in the public interest to bring these conservation lands into federal ownership for the enjoyment of future generations," said Kyl.

Under the Kyl-McCain bill, Resolution Copper Mining would convey seven parcels of private land, totaling 4,583 acres, to the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, plus $7.5 million to be placed in a trust account for the future federal purchase of additional conservation lands in Arizona.

These parcels include lands along the San Pedro River, an important internationally recognized migratory bird corridor, riparian and wetland habitat for threatened and endangered animal and plant species, and magnificent canyons and forests that are home to big game species.

In exchange for these lands, 3,025 federally-owned acres, commonly known as "Oak Flat," would be conveyed to Resolution Copper and used for the future exploration of copper ore. Oak Flat lies adjacent to, and is intermingled with, Resolution Copper's existing private lands and the Magma Mine. Seventy-five percent of this parcel is overlain with unpatented mining claims owned by the company.

The bill is a culmination of extensive and careful negotiation with local and state stakeholders, federal agencies, and mining and other interested parties. The private parcels have been identified, and are strongly endorsed for acquisition by the Arizona Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Sonoran Institute, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and many others. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, as well as the editorial boards of the Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune have expressed support for the exchange.

In addition to the exchange of land between the United States and Resolution Copper, the bill also includes provisions permitting the conveyance of federal lands to the Town of Superior in order to help the town meet its municipal needs and to expand and diversify its economic development. Lands specified include the town cemetery, around the town airport, and a federal reversionary interest that exists at the airport site.

The bill now goes to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for consideration.

Kyl and McCain introduced similar legislation in the 109th congressional session, though final action on the bill did not occur before adjournment.

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