IF YOU HAVE NOT CALLED ALREADY, PLEASE CALL SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE SB1274! THIS BILL IS MOVING FAST. THANKS! There are approximately 9.3 million acres of state trust lands in Arizona. When Congress passed Arizona's Enabling Act, it provided the state with these lands for the support of various public institutions, primarily the common or public schools. State trust lands on the periphery of urban areas are managed primarily for disposition for development. Rural lands are retained and managed primarily for grazing (over 90 percent of state trust lands are leased for grazing.) The Arizona Senate is considering a bill that would make it much more difficult for conservation interests to bid on those grazing leases. It makes it more costly to buy so-called improvements -- fences, structures, etc., it limits the time frame for coming up with the dollars, and it limits what can be done with the improvements. Please ask your senator to oppose SB1274 for the following reasons: · It is premature at best. The State Land Department has drug its feet and refused to recognize that it is in the best interest of the trust to consider other applications for grazing leases -- even those that offered much more money. Now that the Supreme Court has told the Department to do so and before it has even considered one conservation grazing lease, the legislature is erecting additional roadblocks. · The bill will discourage leases that are intended for restoration purposes. According to the Forest Guardians decision which came out of the Supreme Court Last year, "...restoration and preservation are already and must continue to be considered legitimate uses for land that, according to the Commissioner's classification, has no higher and better use than grazing. Otherwise, grazing lessees could continue to graze stock until the land is damaged and its value destroyed." The court went on to say," The Department, in other words, cannot use the classification system in such a manner as to discourage or automatically reject those who seek to lease grazing lands for restorative purposes." · It is not in the best interest of the State Trust Land Beneficiaries -- primarily the public schools -- to discourage competition. Competition for these leases will result in more dollars to the Trust and the Trust beneficiaries. Grazing leases currently generate very little for the Trust. In FY2000, there were 8.4 million acres of state trust land with grazing leases; these lands generated only $2.1 million for the trust beneficiaries or about 25 cents per acre. . In an April 1997 Performance Audit of the State Land Department conducted by the Auditor General's office, there was a finding that "? promoting competition for available leases could result in additional revenue for trust beneficiaries." · As if all this were not bad enough, the bill now says you have to buy the improvements before you get the lease and then it says you cannot change, eliminate, etc. those improvements. If a lessee owns the improvements, shouldn't that lessee be able to remove or change them as needed. Please call or email your senator today and ask him/her to oppose this bill! If you're outside the Phoenix area, you can call your legislator's office toll free at 1-800-352-8404. In the Phoenix area call (602) 542-3559 (Senate) or (602) 542-4221 (House). Correspondence goes to 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890. To email legislators go to http://www.arizonasenate.org/members.html for the senate and to http://www.426-hemi.com/cars/azhouse.htm for the house. If you are not sure who your legislators are, please go to www.vote-smart.org or call the House or Senate information desks. Sandy Bahr Conservation Outreach Director Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter 202 E. McDowell Rd, Suite 277 Phoenix, AZ 85004 Phone (602) 253-8633 Fax (602) 258-6533 grand.canyon.chapter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx ________________________________________________________________ GET INTERNET ACCESS FROM JUNO! Juno offers FREE or PREMIUM Internet access for less! Join Juno today! For your FREE software, visit: http://dl.www.juno.com/get/web/. You are subscribed to AZ-LEADER. To post to this mailing list, simply send email to az-leader@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx To unsubscribe, send email to az-leader-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field.