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Backward land legislation infringes on personal property rights, shortsighted

Dear editor:

Rep. Mark Finchem and Sen. Sonny Borrelli have taken a backward and myopic view of our shared public lands, while at the same time directly infringing on the rights of private landowners. That’s no small accomplishment.

The two politicians have introduced identical pieces of legislation that would prohibit the sale, gifting or granting of land to the federal government – their weak argument for this is that the federal government already owns too much land in the state and that any further federal control would deprive the state of tax dollars. Here is where they’re both wrong.

Federal lands make the state, local businesses and average citizens billions of dollars every year. The outdoor recreation industry generates over $21 billion in consumer spending, employs over 200,000 Arizonans – generating nearly $6 billion in wages, and it still contributes nearly $1.5 billion in state and local taxes.

Ignoring this massive contribution to our economy is irresponsible. Worse still is telling private landowners what they can and can’t do with their personal property. That’s not the ethos of this state or this country.

Finchem and Borrelli are out of touch, and this legislation is wrong on multiple levels.

Scott Garlid, Executive Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation

Correction. A previous version of this letter erroneously reported the outdoor recreation industry generates $2 billion in consumer spending. The actual amount is $21 billion. 

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