O’Halleran Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
WASHINGTON—Wednesday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined a bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers to introduce the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act, legislation that would create a federal land exchange to expand Casa Grande Ruins National Monument by transferring administrative jurisdiction of 11.21 acres of federal land to the National Parks Service (NPS) and 3.5 acres of NPS land to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the San Carlos Irrigation Project.
“Casa Grande Ruins attracts tens of thousands of yearly visitors from all over the world and supports the Pinal County tourism industry,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “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.”
O’Halleran’s bill extends the Casa Grande Ruins to preserve a portion of ancient Hohokam farming land and Great House, which features prominently in many Native American oral and religious traditions. According to federal data, most visitors to the Ruins are non-local and 85% of money spent in surrounding communities originates from more than 15 miles away. In 2011, these visitors spent more than $2 million in Coolidge and nearby towns and supported over 30 local jobs in the area.
“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,” continued O’Halleran. “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.”
The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act has received support from the National Park Conservation Association, the Gila River Indian Community, Pinal County, the Town of Coolidge, and several area non-profits and advocacy organizations dedicated to the Ruins’ preservation.
“The bipartisan support by members of Arizona’s House delegation reflects the broad public support that we know exists for national parks. No one is better equipped to protect important cultural sites for the public than the National Park Service.” - Kevin Dahl, Arizona Program Manager, National Park Conservation Association
“The Hohokam Farming Settlement and Great House hold tremendous cultural significance to the Gila River Indian Community. These sites are among the most significant sacred places in our history. I commend Congressman O’Halleran for recognizing the importance of these lands and ensuring they are protected.” – Stephen Lewis, Governor, Gila River Indian Community
“Casa Grande Ruins is one of the top tourist draws in southern Arizona, with 60,000 to 70,000 visitors a year bringing in more than 5 million dollars to the local economy, and efforts to expand the Ruins enjoy strong support from all local stakeholders." - Dr. Douglas Craig, President, Friends of Casa Grande Ruins
O’Halleran’s legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09). A map of the land exchange is available here.