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State sovereignty proposal loses

The Little Colorado River flows through eastern Arizona near Springerville. The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, that Arizona doesn’t have federally reserved water rights for land given to it in trust by the federal government. (Arizona Department of Water Resources Photo)Arizona voters aren’t interested in declaring sovereignty over its land and natural resources under control of the federal government.

Proposition 120 went down in flames with 68 percent voting against it and 32 percent for it, with 1,190 of 1,667 precincts reporting.

It is unclear what the voters’ dissatisfaction with the measure was, but opponents argued it was nothing more than a symbolic gesture because it was unenforceable, unconstitutional, and the state was in no position financially or structurally to take control of the millions of acres of federal land in the state.

Rep. Chester Crandell, a Heber Republican and chief proponent of the measure, said he believes the defeat was caused by critics who claimed the Grand Canyon would be sold as a result of the measure. He said that isn’t true.

“I still think it was a good idea,” said Crandell, who won the Legislative District 6 Senate race.

The measure would have amended the state Constitution to declare that Arizona has sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries, except for Indian reservations and certain federal lands such as military bases.

Crandell introduced the referral in the Legislature and argued that Arizona had to seize control of the lands because the federal government had failed in its duties of managing them.

As a prime example, he said the U.S. Forest Service mismanaged Arizona forests for years, leading to wildfires in 2002 and 2011 that charred nearly 1 million acres of timber.


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