Sunday, December 07, 2014

Resolution Copper land swap passes U.S. House

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a package of lands bills, among them the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act.  The latter involves transfer of about 2,400 acres of Forest Service and BLM lands for 5,300 acres of private lands identified by conservation groups as critical lands [right, map of lands involved in exchange. Credit, Resolution Copper].   Resolution Copper says the land exchange is essential for them to move forward with development of the giant underground copper mine near Superior.  The

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, whose district includes the mine site released this statement:
The land exchange in this legislation has been modified from the original bill so that the transfer of the federal Oak Flat property will not occur until after an environmental study is performed on the mine and other activities related to the land exchange — which meets a key concern of environmental advocates. Native American interests are also reflected in the bill, which has been modified to ensure that tribes can access the Oak Flat campground for years to come unless the area is deemed unsafe. And the legislation designates 807 acres of the Apache Leap Cliffs as a “special management area,” which places it under U.S. Forest Service protection and ensures the cliffs cannot be damaged by the mine.
Resolution Copper described the key provisions of the land exchange bill at

  • Land in and around the Oak Flat Campground, which is needed for our mining operations, will be transferred from the federal government to Resolution Copper. In return, Resolution Copper will transfer to the government more than 5,300 acres of high-priority conservation lands.
  • 110 acres of Resolution Copper’s private land transferred to the US Forest Service to protect the south end of Apache Leap.
  • The scenic escarpment above the Town of Superior, known as Apache Leap, remains under management of the US Forest Service.
  • 3,050 acres known as the 7B Ranch on the San Pedro River, possibly the largest and oldest mesquite bosque in Arizona, transfers to the Bureau of Land Management and becomes a new unit of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
  • The BLM acquires an additional 940-acre parcel inside the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.
The legislation must also be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.

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