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Oak Flats

Tell the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to say No to S 409

Gaan Canyon (Devil's Canyon) near Oak Flat Campground

Tell the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to say No to S 409

Wednesday, June 17th, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be holding a hearing on S. 409, a piece of special interest legislation that would mandate and land exchange that would solely benefit Rio Tinto and BHP-Billiton – two of the largest foreign mining companies in the world.  The bill has been introduced by Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl.

The bill would short circuit the usual and customary process all mining companies go through to get mining permits in the US.  Instead, the bill would allow the companies to get a free pass from these federal laws and to mine in the most destructive way possible, a copper ore body below Oak Flat Campground. Read more »

Oak Flat Land Exchange

Gaan CanyonGaan Canyon Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton have created a subsidiary called Resolution Copper that is proposing to mine a rich copper vein more than 7,000 feet deep just east of Superior, Arizona and an hour east of Phoenix, Arizona.  They have pressured some members of the Arizona Congressional delegation to introduce a land exchange bill that would privatize Oak Flat campground and surrounding public land.  President Eisenhower placed the campground off limits to mining in 1955.  Oak Flat is a Native American sacred site and it critical for the religious freedom of Arizona Tribes.  Oak Flat is a prime recreation area, especially for rock climbing and bouldering with more than 2,500 established climbing routes.  Oak Flat is also a rare desert riparian area and in Arizona, less than 10% of this type of habitat remains.  The land exchange would allow mining companies to avoid following our nation’s environmental and cultural laws and would bypass the permitting process all other mines in the country have followed.  It is the only bill in front of the US Congress that would privatize a Native American sacred site on public land.  It would mean the largest loss of rock climbing on public lands ever, and would bypass the normal process for permitting mines on public land.  Since 2005, 11 land exchange bills have been introduced and all have failed.

Concerned citizens are worried about the loss of Oak Flat Campground, a very popular recreation area.  Birders, climbers, campers, canyoneers, bikers, and hikers enjoy the area throughout the year, all of whom would be greatly harmed if these lands were forever taken from public access.  Native Americans have traditionally used the area for cultural, spiritual purposes, and for sustenance.  The land exchange would include Apache Leap, a cliff where more than 80 Apache warriors chose to leap to their deaths rather than surrender to the US calvary.

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