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Arizona ballot measure contests ownership of the Grand Canyon

• Reuters

When voters in Arizona go to the polls next month, they will be asked to decide a landownership tug of war: Should the Grand Canyon belong to all Americans, or just the residents of Arizona?

A controversial ballot measure backed by Republicans in the state legislature is seeking sovereign control over millions of acres of federal land in the state, including the Grand Canyon.

Proposition 120 would amend the state's constitution to declare Arizona's sovereignty and jurisdiction over the "air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state's boundaries."

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

Art 1, Sec. 8 US CONstitution, Powers of CONgress:

....To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; ....

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

This issue is a very difficult issue. It is a 10th Amendment issue for the Federal Government. And it is a water-agreement issue for California, thereby possibly making it an Federal Government interstate issue.

First, does the Federal Government have authority to remain in control of lands within any State when the lands have not been ceded to the Federal Government by the State? If there is not some pre-statehood agreement to such effect, set in place as a prerequisite for statehood, generally the Federal Government loses the land-control issue.

With Arizona, things might be different because of the Colorado River that provides water to California. Depending on the wording of the agreements between Arizona and California for water rights, the whole thing might be considered interstate commerce, and fall under the Federal Government Commerce Clause. However, to what extent should the Fed Gov control the land and not simply regulate the free flow of water?

All the talk about Arizona being able to take care of the Grand Canyon is garbage talk. Outside of water rights, and outside of some statehood agreement that Fed Gov control lands within Arizona, if the land has not been ceded to the Federal Government, the land belongs to Arizona. If Arizona shuts down Grand Canyon National Park, it is within her rights as a Sovereign State.

If Arizona is having problems taking care of land that it owns, financially? Ownership and use of Grand Canyon lands should help to provide the financing necessary to take care of the lands. But who is to judge how Arizona is supposed to take care of its lands? Not taking care of Arizona lands may be the precise way that Arizona DOES take care of her lands. Other States and the Federal Gov have no rights here except the right to yakketty-yak allowed them by the 1st Amendment.

It's about time that Arizona asserts her rights in this area. And other states that find themselves in similar positions with the Federal Government regarding their lands, should assert their rights, as well.

In Arizona, this has been attempted before. Let's hope it wins this time.

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

As it should be.  Article 1, Section 8 of the CONstitution prohibits the US Government from owning lands beyond that necessary for its own buildings. Not, of course, that this matters.

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