LANDS: CAREFUL STEWARDSHIP ESSENTIAL

Gift that keeps on giving - Arizona's public lands

2012-02-14T00:00:00Z Gift that keeps on giving - Arizona's public landsDave Richins Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The date is February 2062. As we celebrate our sesquicentennial, many of Arizona's 11 million residents know that every time we turn on the faucet, switch on the lights, or enjoy high-speed rail travel within the Sun Corridor and to California, we have our public lands to thank. The natural resources, transportation corridors and recreation opportunities these lands furnish sustain not only our way of life, but also our state's economy.

For preserving and wisely managing these critical landscapes, we are indebted to the foresight and dedication of government leaders, businesses and nonprofits. In particular, laws reforming how state trust lands are sold have been instrumental in reshaping state development patterns. Reform has minimized the fragmenting of public lands and provided essential open space for Arizona's wildlife and water-related natural areas to function properly.

As Arizona turns 150, we celebrate major successes and acknowledge work to be done:

Water - Recognizing the uncertainties of our water supply, we must continue to dedicate significant resources to protecting and restoring our primary sources of water on public lands. This commitment to stewardship extends to our rivers, streams and wetlands, which should provide adequate amounts of water to sustain our cities and communities, agriculture and wildlife.

Energy - Arizona has become a world leader in solar-power production, including the manufacturing and exporting of solar-industry components. Thoughtfully leveraging our public lands and previously disturbed sites to develop in-state renewable-energy resources, such as utility-scale solar installations, has created surplus-power sales to surrounding states and Mexico. We must further promote responsible development of this vital industry.

Land - Arizona's iconic national and state parks remain central to the state's identity. These parks and the addition of hundreds of thousands of acres to Arizona's National Landscape Conservation System have established a vibrant tourism industry, attracted skilled professionals and sustained our "knowledge economy," for which the state is now known.

Our careful stewardship of these public lands will provide continued opportunities for recreation and visitation, while supporting mining, our military and our economy.

Dave Richins is the director of the Sonoran Institute's Sun Corridor Legacy Program.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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