Save Oak Flat

Date: 2/7/2012

The House companion bill HR 687 has already been voted out of committee and will likely get a floor vote in the summer of 2013. Although both Arizona Senators Flake and McCain are in favor of the exchange, this controversial bill will face greater opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.The Access Fund and Arizona climbing community have long worked to protect climbing in central Arizona, and we need your help. Please write your Senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and let them know your views on this land exchange.

The draft letter below can be copied—in part or in full—into the web form for your state linked below. See the Access Fund’s most recent testimony, and use these talking points and the letter below as a template for your personal comments to Congress

Alaska—Senator Lisa Murkowski
Arizona—Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake Colorado—Senator Mark Udall
Delaware—Christopher Coons
Idaho—Senator James E. Risch
Hawaii—Senator Brian Schatz
Louisiana—Mary L. Landrieu
Michigan—Debbie Stabenow
Minnesota—Al Franken
Nevada—Senator Dean Heller
New Mexico—Senator Martin Heinrich
North Dakota—John Hoeven
Ohio—Rob Portman
Oregon—Senator Ron Wyden
South Dakota—Tim Johnson
Tennessee—Senator Bob Corker
Utah—Senator Mike Lee
Vermont—Bernard Sanders
Washington—Senator Maria Cantwell
West Virginia—Senator Joe Manchin
Wyoming—Senator John Barrasso


The Honorable [your Senator here]
US Senate
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Dear Senator [your Senator here],

I write in opposition to S 339, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013. I am a climber who opposes this legislation because it would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey the highly popular public recreational rock climbing resource at Oak Flat, Arizona for use as an underground copper mine.

Rock climbers are numerically the largest recreation group that uses the Oak Flat/Queen Creek area, and we also stand to suffer the largest loss if this area is destroyed by mining activities. There are over one thousand established rock climbs in the Oak Flat area that will subside into an enormous crater if Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) is allowed to proceed with their present plan to “block cave” mine the underlying ore deposit.

For decades climbers have frequented the Oak Flat/Queen Creek Canyon area in Central Arizona to scale the vast assortment of cliffs, canyons, and boulders. Climbing at Oak Flat over the years—one of the country’s few areas widely visited during winter months—proved so popular that the area hosted the Phoenix Bouldering Contest for several years which eventually became the world’s largest such event. Since 2004 a variety of climbing groups in Arizona have worked with conservation organizations, officials from local and federal government, and Resolution Copper Mining to address the severe impacts that this bill would cause to Oak Flat and the recreation community in central Arizona. The local climbing group, the Concerned Climbers of Arizona, is adamantly opposed to this legislation.

I urge you to oppose this bill because it is nothing more than a piece of special interest legislation benefitting only the two giant, foreign owned mining companies that own RCM. There is nothing in this legislation to address the concerns of the many recreational users of Oak Flat, nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the Native American users of the area and S 339 fails to require any meaningful environmental analysis prior to the transfer of our public land to RCM.

This bill would circumvent the proper public process mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for prior analysis of any major federal action on public land. Such an analysis would assess the impact mine operations would have on the health of nearby residents, water quality, air quality, cultural resources, transportation, and the overall environment. S 339 unreasonably requires the exchange to be completed within one year. Such a rushed timetable will eliminate any meaningful analysis of this project and limit a real determination whether this mine is in the public’s interest. Because the provisions in S 339 virtually ensure the development of this mine, and the public has very little information on the environmental implications of this mine, this exchange is not in the public’s interest.


[Your Name]
[Town, State]