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dief


Jan 8, 2011, 8:18 PM
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Queen Creek Update
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UPDATE FROM QUEEN CREEK COALITION

For more information about the Queen Creek Coalition (QCC), please visit theqcc.org


Greetings Friends!

The QCC has been carefully monitoring the progress of the land exchange legislation and continuing to negotiate with Resolution Copper Mining, LLC (RCM) as part of our mission to maximize climbing opportunities in the Queen Creek area. The next few months will likely have significant developments with regards to the legislation and our negotiations, so we wanted to provide the climbing community with an update as to what is likely to happen and how we have been preparing for this.


General news:

In late June 2010, QCC was incorporated under the Arizona Nonprofit Corporation Act , in order to: 1) ensure the continuity of QCC as an organization; 2) to allow donations to QCC to be tax-deductible to the donor and tax-free to QCC; and 3) to allow QCC to hold assets in its own name. As a nonprofit corporation, QCC is and will continue to be operated for the benefit of the climbing public. You may be aware that many public charities benefiting climbers (such as the Access Fund) are organized as not-for-profit corporations.

Shortly after QCC was incorporated we established a new website, theqcc.org. We are in the process of building a new website that will soon be going live. In the interim, you can still find information about QCC, its mission, and its activities at our new address. We will continue to post meeting minutes and developments in our correspondence with RCM here.

In addition to our attempts to secure an agreement with RCM, QCC is also working with local officials to promote rock climbing in the Queen Creek area. In November, QCC officers met with representatives of the Town of Superior, Arizona, including Mayor Michael Hing, and laid out the fundamentals of a long term working relationship that will benefit the Town as well as the climbing community.
One of QCC’s current priorities is to increase the size and diversity of its Board. We are pleased to announce that two new Board members were added in December: Geir Hundal of Tucson, Arizona and Tina Behrens of Phoenix, Arizona. We look forward to adding more Directors in the coming months.


Update on the proposed agreement with RCM:

In June 2010, QCC began working on a new proposed agreement on climbing issues with RCM. This agreement would provide for: 1) changes to the terms of the existing license agreement pursuant to which climbing is allowed at RCM-owned areas Atlantis and The Pond; 2) expansion of the Pond and Atlantis licensed areas; 3) additional licensed areas in Euro Dog Valley and the Mine Area; 4) provision for long-term maintenance of several regional access roads; 5) development of the Tam O’Shanter climbing area; and 6) funding for other regional access initiatives. This proposed agreement would contain significant improvements upon prior drafts that had been exchanged between QCC and RCM. The cost for this would be that QCC would endorse RCM’s proposed legislation pursuant to the agreement.

QCC delivered its draft agreement to RCM on July 28, 2010. Approximately two weeks later, at the request of RCM for additional information, QCC delivered detailed area maps to RCM. In early September, RCM advised QCC that it had completed a preliminary review of QCC’s proposal and would give feedback shortly. QCC has remained in contact with RCM and is currently waiting for their feedback.

Some delay in this recent round of negotiations may have resulted from changes both at RCM and in Congress. By late August, predictions that the Democrats were going to lose their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives began to be widely circulated. In September, RCM CEO David Salisbury announced he was leaving RCM and that a transition process had begun. In the November elections the Democrats lost their majority. It is difficult to know what effect these changes and the last-minute maneuvering during the lame-duck session of Congress have had on the timing or content of RCM’s as-yet-undelivered response. RCM continues to assure QCC that it intends to work with us. QCC remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached that will furnish significant benefits for Queen Creek climbers beyond what is written in the legislation.

In the absence of such a supplemental agreement, the proposed land exchange legislation does not provide climbers with compensation sufficient to justify QCC’s support of the legislation. Until and unless an agreement is reached, QCC remains opposed to the land exchange.



Update on the status of the land exchange legislation:

To this point, climbers have been fortunate in that circumstances outside of our control have delayed the progress of the legislation. Former Rep. Renzi's troubles and Rep. Raul Grijalva's ability to delay the legislation in committee are examples. During this time hardworking, dedicated climbers have expended much energy trying to change the legislation for the better of the climbing community. Despite these efforts, there have been few gains specific to climbing written into the legislation, while the likelihood of it passing has risen significantly.

There is much at stake if we take the stance that climbers can stop the legislation and we have misjudged. We will lose the Mine Area, Oak Flat, Euro Dog, and access to Apache Leap as soon as RCM declares such. The license for continued climbing on RCM land will be at risk, and climbers will be left with no assistance from RCM for Northern, Upper, or Lower Devils Canyon, Tam O'Shanter, the Homestead, or any other regional climbing.

The exchange has the overwhelming support of Arizona politicians including the Arizona Congressional delegation, most of whom have acted as its sponsors. Environmentalists, Native Americans and those concerned with recreation in the Oak Flat vicinity, including rock climbers, have made their appeals to these leaders, but except for Tucson’s Rep. Grijalva, none has been convinced. Both of Arizona’s Senators are sponsors of the legislation.

In the recently-ended 111th Congress (2009-10), with the Obama administration paying more attention than its predecessor to environmental concerns raised by the proposed exchange, Sen. McCain brokered a compromise in which pre-exchange NEPA review was incorporated into the legislation. This helped the exchange sail through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where it had been languishing. Like many other land bills, it never came up for a vote in the full Senate. Note that McCain's efforts here were a compromise; there are those in the Senate who would be quite happy to have the NEPA provision removed. This is a fact that those who demand a “full NEPA” should keep in mind given the change in the make-up of both chambers in the current Congress.

The exchange will be introduced again in the 112th Congress. The bill likely will be identical to the one reported favorably out of committee in the Senate. If so, the bill will include a NEPA review prior to the final approval of the land exchange and RCM’s Mining Plan of Operations. Some have argued that the bill’s provision for a three-year, time-limited NEPA review process is something less than a full NEPA review, but many Republican legislators are opposed to including any NEPA provisions. The news is less good for climbers, since it would mean that 1) the definition of the Pond parcel will be the same (we would like it to be larger); and 2) the $1.25 million that originally was intended to benefit climbers will remain in the bill as money to be spent by the Forest Service on “dispersed recreation” in the area, which may or may not result in a direct benefit to climbers.

As before, this bill will have the support of both of Arizona’s powerful Senators. In fact, Sen. McCain is so strongly in favor of it that he has threatened to block all land legislation until it passes the full Senate. The bill is likely to be passed through Committee and sent to the full Senate once again.

The big difference we will see is in the House. With the Republicans now having a majority, they will chair committees and sub-committees. The House Committee to which such bills are assigned (National Parks, Forests and Public Lands), has been chaired in recent years by Rep. Grijalva. The new Chairman is Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who in 2009 labeled as “tyranny” the Obama administration’s move to block uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. You can expect him to be friendly to this exchange and to move it along in the House, rather than block it, as Rep. Grijalva was able to do.

In short, it is likely that the land exchange will finally pass and become law in 2011.

We are aware that some of our former colleagues, who now call themselves the “Concerned Climbers of Arizona,” will continue to enlist your support, ask you to write letters and to fight what they see as the good fight. We are not going to discourage anyone from doing that. But understand you are preaching to the choir, among yourselves. The fact that this exchange was in some last-minute land packages but not in others in the recent lame-duck session had nothing to do with impassioned letters and everything to do with arm-wrestling among some of the most powerful members of the United States Senate.

If the land exchange passes in 2011 , the only way climbers will get anything more than what is provided for in the legislation will be if the QCC can obtain it for them. It is important to realize that climbers are in no position to demand “no subsidence” from RCM or Congress. We will see a reminder of this when the new legislation rolls out with the same provisions for climbers as last year. It may not be the way you want the world to be, and we would be thrilled to have the status quo continue, were it possible, but it is the political reality.

Ultimately the QCC cares about maximizing climbing opportunities in the Queen Creek region. It is likely that some of these will be lost. We are determined to maintain access to as much as possible and to help develop new areas. Queen Creek is an area every member of the Board cares deeply about: the QCC Board includes Queen Creek’s guidebook author, prominent and prolific Queen Creek route developers, a former Access Fund regional representative, and past Presidents of the Arizona Mountaineering Club. We are acting and will continue to act in climbers’ best interests.


Partner gandolf


Jan 10, 2011, 11:52 AM
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Registered: Jun 3, 2005
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Re: [dief] Queen Creek Update [In reply to]
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Dief,

Thanks for the update on Queen Creek. Much has been said by individuals who oppose the stance of the QCC. But I appreciate and support the current approach by the QCC to secure as much of the climbing areas as possible if the land exchange is passed.


pheenixx


Jan 11, 2011, 9:15 AM
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Registered: May 22, 2004
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Re: [dief] Queen Creek Update [In reply to]
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HAHAHA --you are not the QUEEN CREEK COALTION

or the spokegroup for the climbing community


dief wrote:
UPDATE FROM QUEEN CREEK COALITION

For more information about the Queen Creek Coalition (QCC), please visit theqcc.org

could this be _ _ _ _ and yet another brown-nosed sponsorship --spare us


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