WASHINGTON — Working with a bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Sedona, introduced legislation Wednesday that would expand the boundaries of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
The “Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act” would create a federal land exchange to expand the Coolidge-based national monument.
The land exchange would transfer 11.21 acres of federal land to the National Park Service while at the same time giving the Bureau of Indian Affairs 3.5 acres of federal land for the San Carlos Irrigation Project.
The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Tucson, Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, David Schweikert, R-Scottsdale, Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, and Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix.
“Casa Grande Ruins attracts tends of thousands of yearly visitors from all over the world and supports the Pinal County tourism industry,” O’Halleran said in a statement issued from his office. “My bill would expand this National Monument to more completely preserve historic lands and ruins and ensure that the San Carlos Irrigation Project has access to critical irrigation infrastructure.”
Under the bill, the monument would expand to include a portion of historical Hohokam farming land and the townsite of Adamsville, which could be purchased or cooperatively managed by the U.S. Department of Interior.
The Coolidge City Council passed an resolution in support of the bill in July. The bill has also received support from the National Park Conservation Association, the Gila River Indian Community and Pinal County among other organizations and advocacy groups.
Federal data shows that in 2018 visitors to the monument spent over $5 million within Coolidge and surrounding communities and helped sustain more than 30 local jobs in the region.
“Our public lands are a national treasure, and Arizona is proud to be home to some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world,” O’Halleran said. “We must ensure these historical sights are preserved for Native American cultural and religious importance and allow them to be appreciated by generations to come.”