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Public Statements

Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KYL. Mr. President, yesterday I was pleased to join with Senator MCCAIN to introduce the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, which has been introduced in previous Congresses and has been modified only slightly from the version introduced last year. This bill is a culmination of several years of negotiation with local and State stakeholders and other interested parties.

Let me briefly explain the new provisions in this bill. First, a previous version of this bill would have placed 822 acres of Federal land, including the Apache Leap, in a conservation easement to ensure that these sensitive lands were protected. This modified bill goes a step further by keeping the Apache Leap under the control of the Forest Service, thereby providing Federal protection in perpetuity. In addition, I am pleased to announce that representatives from Resolution Copper have agreed to add an additional 110 acres of privately owned land adjacent to the federally owned portion of the Leap in this version of the land exchange.

Besides addressing concerns with Apache Leap, this modified bill also would provide for continued acorn gathering by the Apache tribes at the Oak Flat campground, and transfer additional private lands that will also serve this purpose.

In summary, this land exchange would preserve highly sought after land that is important for wildlife habitat, cultural resources, watershed and land-management objectives; promote outdoor recreation and tourism; and generate economic opportunities for state and local residents in the copper triangle region in Arizona. It is good for our environment and our economy. At a time when our economy is in desperate need of new jobs, this land exchange could create more than a thousand jobs at its peak, and generate more than $10 billion in total Federal, State, county and local tax revenues. The mine could also meet as much as a quarter of the U.S. demand for copper in the future.

I urge my colleagues to approve the legislation at the earliest possible date.

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