03/12/2008

New Coalition to Address Climbing Issues in Central Arizona

3/13/2008

From the Queen Creek Coalition

Central Arizona climbers have formed a new climbers advocacy groupthe Queen Creek Coalition (QCC)to address issues related to 1) the proposed new mining activity near Oak Flat, 2) ongoing associated legislative activity that would transfer public land to Resolution Copper Company, and 3) possible new highway construction impacts. www.queencreekcoalition.com.

For the third time in as many years, Resolution Copper Company (Resolution) has introduced federal legislation, dubbed the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, that would privatize Oak Flat, a public recreation area where mining has been prohibited under federal law since 1955. The company has been exploring a deep deposit of copper ore beneath this area for over four years and is pursuing ownership of Oak Flat to create a new mine. Resolution is owned by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, two of the worlds largest multi-national mining companies.

The proposed land exchange could result in the loss of much of the vast climbing resources of Queen Creek Canyon and the region, says Fred AmRhein, spokesperson for the Coalition, whose members include representatives from the Arizona Mountaineering Club, Friends of Queen Creek, the proprietors of several Phoenix-area climbing gyms, climbing guide book authors, local retail outdoor equipment outlet proprietors, and other local citizens with strong ties to the Queen Creek Region. The coalition was formed primarily to address the future of climbing, hiking, and camping in the area. "Our intention is to be inclusive, to bring the community together, and to actively and fairly pursue solutions that allow coexistence of community, commerce, and conservation, says AmRhein.

The Queen Creek Coalition website (www.queencreekcoalition.com) is now active and more information will be added soon. Feel free to contact the QCC with any questions or suggestions. At the following upcoming public meetings the Queen Creek Coalition will be introduced, give updates, and answer questions:

Monday, March 24, 2008 at 7 pm during the Arizona Mountaineering Club March membership meeting (at the Phoenix Country Day School 3901 East Stanford Drive in Paradise Valley)

Saturday, March 29, 2008 after climbing at the Phlapper Phest at the Oak Flat bouldering area (follow signs to the site south of the campground). For directions see www.queencreekcoalition.com.