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On Sunday, February 18th, the Daily Sun reported that the office of Senator John McCain and the Arizona State Land Department were in discussion regarding a three-way land swap which would transfer thousands of acres of USFS land surrounding Flagstaff to the State Land Department. This would be to compensate the state for lands transferred to the Hopi to fulfill a decades-old commitment to the Hopi Tribe.

The State already manages numerous parcels around Flagstaff, and this plan would transfer to it nearly all lands between East Flagstaff and Walnut Canyon National Monument, including several sections in the Walnut Canyon Study Area. It would transfer the Campbell Mesa Trails, trails near Kachina Village, and some of the Arizona Trail near the intersection of Townsend-Winona and 89 North, according to the map accompanying the article.

State Trust Lands are not public lands. The primary mission of the State Land Department is to maximize revenues for its beneficiaries — public schools and other state public institutions. The public has no right to access them, except with a permit that is difficult to obtain, temporary and revocable. They are not managed for the benefit of the public, and may be sold off without public input.

I am all for fulfilling our commitments to the Hopi Tribe, however this is not the right way to do it. If you value your ability to recreate on the United States Forest Service lands surrounding Flagstaff, please make your voice heard on this issue before it is too late.



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