Grijalva Cheers House Passage of Saguaro National Park Expansion, Natural Resources Bills

Washington D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed eight Natural Resources Committee bills, including Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2020 (H.R. 7098). Chair Grijalva’s bill will expand Saguaro National Park and further protect the unique Sonoran Desert habitat of the greater Tucson area in Arizona, an effort he has championed since 2007.

Under the terms of the bill, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to acquire a total of approximately 1,232 total acres of land to include in the park. The bill also directs the National Park Service to study future opportunities for expansion with a focus on land with high natural, cultural, recreational, and scenic values.

“Expanding and protecting Saguaro National Park is a no brainer in Southern Arizona because this park is our back yard,” Grijalva said. “This expansion will benefit both people and nature by increasing parkland in our community, improving wildlife habitats and connecting recreational trails in the area. Saguaro is already a popular destination for Arizonans and visitors from all over, and this is an exciting opportunity to permanently protect open space and provide more recreational opportunities. Today, with the House passage of my bill, we’re one step closer to achieving our goal. I am grateful to the community members who have worked with me to get to this point, and we’re going to continue until it becomes law.” 

A video message from Chair Grijalva on the passage of H.R. 7098 can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3a0crrq.

Saguaro National Park is home to iconic southwestern species including the saguaro cactus, desert tortoise, and coyote.  The park received more than 1 million visitors in 2019, the largest amount the site has received since it first received federal protection 87 years ago.  

The parcels identified for inclusion in the park will protect biodiverse riparian areas, wildlife habitat, scenic views, and archaeological sites and create an important linkage between Saguaro National Park and Pima County’s Sweetwater Preserve. The parcels in question were identified for inclusion in the park because of their high conservation value, the immediate threat of sale, and significant local support.

H.R. 7098 is supported by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Tucson Mountain Homeowners Association, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Trust for Public lands, and many other conservation organizations.  

Bills passed and headed to the president’s desk: 

S. 906
 – Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (Sen. Diane Feinstein), directs the National Marine Fishery Service to facilitate the phaseout of large-scale driftnet fishing and promote the adoption of alternative fishing practices, and to award grants to program participants to reimburse fees from permits of the driftnet fishery, forfeit fishing gear, or purchase alternative gear.

Passed by The U.S. House:

H.R. 970 – Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act (Rep. Anthony Brown), as amended, requires the Department of the Interior to remove and appropriately dispose of the monument to General Robert E. Lee at the Antietam National Battlefield. 

H.R. 1240 – Young Fishermen’s Development Act (Rep. Don Young), as amended, establishes a Young Fishermen’s Development Grant Program within the National Sea Grant Office to provide training, education, outreach, and technical assistance for young fishermen and women.

H.R. 5040 – AIR Safety Act of 2020 (Rep. John Curtis), as amended, requires the Bureau of Land Management, in consultation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration, to conduct a study on the impacts and costs of unauthorized drone incursions on wildland fire suppression and the feasibility and effectiveness of various options to prevent such incursions.

H.R. 5458 – Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Modification Act (Rep. Joe Neguse), authorizes the Department of the Interior to acquire, by donation only, a parcel of approximately forty acres of non-federal land and requires the Secretary to modify the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park to include the acquired land. 

H.R. 5459 – Rocky Mountain National Park Ownership Correction Act (Rep. Joe Neguse), directs the Department of the Interior to correct a land ownership error within the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park.

H.R. 7098 Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2020 (Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva), as amended, modifies the boundary of Saguaro National Park by adding approximately 1,232 acres to the park and requires the Department of the Interior to conduct a study to identify lands for future adjustments to the boundary of the park.

H.R. 7489 – Long Bridge Act of 2020 (Rep. Rob Wittman), as amended authorizes the Department of the Interior to convey to, and authorize the use by, Virginia and the District of Columba, certain National Park Service land for the construction of a new Long Bridge structure for rail and other infrastructure purposes.