Group seeks preservation of national monument in Arizona

Posted: Updated:
Ironwood Forest National Monument. (Source: ironwoodforest.org) Ironwood Forest National Monument. (Source: ironwoodforest.org)
TUCSON, AZ (AP) -

A group led by a member of the House has called for the preservation of Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona to protect its desert plants and wildlife.

The group, which includes U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, five environmentalists, a Tohono O'odham tribal official and aide to Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, credits the monument for creating tourism and job opportunities, the Arizona Daily Star reported (http://bit.ly/2wpS0gi).

"We must and shall protect the pristine desert," Verlon Jose, the O'odham Nation's vice chairman, said at a news conference Wednesday. "This is history, people."

President Donald Trump and other Republicans have said previous presidents overreached when they created a number of national monuments.

Ironwood was created in 2000 amid efforts by environmentalists and the Pima County government.

"This is one that I worked for," said Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat and former a county supervisor.

Grijalva and other officials have asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for transparency during the monument review process. Among other things, they want to know who Zinke has met with and the criteria for the review.

Last month, three Arizona Republicans, along with 11 other Congress members, sent a letter to Zinke asking him to consider doing away with four national monuments in Arizona: Ironwood, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Sonoran Desert and Vermillion Cliffs.

The state lawmakers claimed Ironwood prevents use of state trust lands and takes away revenue opportunities that could help the public school system.

Bronson's aide, Maria Klucarova, countered that Ironwood helped bring more than $2 billion in travel and tourism spending to Pima County in 2015.

---

Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.tucson.com

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.