Issue 3, Summer 2003

In Depth: Arizona Finds An Overdue Friend

Arizona Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, (D).
Photo: U.S. House of Representatives

The wild lands of Arizona made a friend last November with the election of Raúl M. Grijalva to the United States House of Representatives. 

Congressman Grijalva (Gree-HALL-va) joins the Arizona Congressional Delegation from Tucson, where he formerly acted as the chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  His district incorporates part of Tucson, south to Nogales, west to Yuma, and north to La Paz County - the second largest district in the state. 

At Pima County, Grijalva was an unwavering champion of land conservation, worker's rights, and education.  Now in Congress, he already shines as an advocate for the protection of public lands, environmental laws, and public involvement in shaping land management policy.  Recently appointed to chair the Democratic Environmental Caucus, the congressman is already recognized as one of the leading voices for Wilderness. 

Since his inauguration just 5 months ago, he has 'hit the ground running' with a pro-environment position that makes southern Arizona a national leader in environmental issues.  To date, just some of the work the Congressman has done to promote a healthy, vibrant landscape:

  •   Drafted and delivered a letter to Interior Secretary Norton, which gained 27 other House signatures, requesting that she allow the public process to continue at Grand Canyon National Park, thereby ensuring fair consideration of all stakeholder concerns--including wilderness protection--for Colorado River management.
  •   Signed on to a letter to Interior Secretary Norton urging the Department of the Interior to not process suspect claims that would allow roads to be built and traveled upon in Wilderness Areas and other sensitive public lands.
  •  Signed on to a letter to President Bush raising concerns over the administrations attempts to undercut public involvement in land management issues, including exemptions to the National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, and the Appeals Reform Act. 
  • Voted against the Healthy Forest Initiative, a terrible forest-health bill that would result in the commercial timber industry having almost free reign on cutting old trees in the name of "restoration" - all without the public having the opportunity to comment.
  •   Delivered a pro-wilderness speech at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Centennial Celebration
  •   Co-sponsored the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act - a sensible public lands bill that would eliminate old-growth logging and all commercial timber operations in Inventoried Roadless Areas.
  •   Co-sponsored the National Roadless Area Protection Act - a bill that will provide everlasting protection for remaining roadless areas on National Forests.  Over 1.1 million acres of Arizona's forests would be protected from roads, commercial logging, and development under this bill. 
  •   Co-sponsoring the Arizona Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout bill, which will allow ranchers to opt-out of their grazing leases on public land and reduce the impact of cattle on ecosystems. 

Raul M. Grijalva.Already, Congressman Grijalva is living up to his reputation of being a strong advocate for open spaces and healthy landscapes.  As he continues his tenure in the House of Representatives, Arizonans will look to Grijalva to lead the march for Wilderness in Arizona. 

--by Matt Skroch