Sen. Kelly Introduces Bills to Support National Parks in Arizona with Sinema, O’Halleran, and Kirkpatrick

Four bills will improve the conservation and management of several national park units in Arizona

Today Arizona Senator Mark Kelly introduced four bills in the Senate, co-sponsored by Senator Kyrsten Sinema and introduced in the House by Representatives Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), to enhance four National Park Service units in Arizona. The bills would reauthorize grants through the National Park Service for the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, rename the Chiricahua National Monument as a National Park, expand Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to protect Native American resources, and improve visitor access to Sunset Crater National Monument. 

“Arizona is home to some of the most unique national parks and monuments in the world. They are treasures to our state and also an important part of our economy. These four bills will ensure Arizonans and visitors from around the world can enjoy and learn about these special places for generations to come,” said Senator Mark Kelly.

“Protecting Arizona’s public lands and national parks strengthens our tourism and outdoor recreation industry, boosting opportunities for Arizonans and creating good-paying jobs,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“This February, I was proud to vote to pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act in the House of Representatives: a sweeping legislative package that protects millions of acres of public lands throughout our nation, especially in Arizona. Included within the package was my legislation to expand the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to more completely preserve historic lands, and my bill to cut red tape for the National Park Service and Coconino National Forest to streamline management of Sunset Crater National Monument. Today, I’m pleased to see both these initiatives introduced by our Senators and am looking forward to seeing these important measures cross the finish line and become law,” said Representative Tom O’Halleran.

“Chiricahua National Monument is a crown jewel of Southern Arizona, and holds a special and sacred place in the hearts of many,” said Representative Ann Kirkpatrick. “I am proud to be working with Senator Kelly to advance legislation which would rightfully bestow the honor of National Park on our spectacular ‘Wonderland of Rocks’ in Cochise County. This effort has had broad, bipartisan community support for years, and I am excited to continue the work to ensure it becomes law. I look forward to the introduction of the many other great public lands bills, each of which will surely leave positive impacts on a variety of sectors in our home state, from ecological conservation to indigenous land preservation to tourism.”

The four bills introduced in the Senate by Kelly are listed below:

The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2021 (Kelly/Sinema/O’Halleran): Expands the boundary of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge, Arizona, to protect archeological and Native American cultural resources that surround the monument, and establishes a process through which those lands can be acquired or managed for permanent conservation. 

Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act (Kelly/Sinema): Reauthorizes grants through the National Park Service for the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area (NHA) for a 15-year term through 2036. The Yuma Crossing NHA supports the preservation of the historic Yuma Quartermaster Depot, the Yuma Territorial Prison, and the Yuma East Wetlands ecosystem restoration project along the banks of the Colorado River. 

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Boundary Adjustment Act (Kelly/Sinema/O’Halleran): Transfers 97 acres of Forest Service land to the National Park Service for inclusion within the monument boundary, which will reduce delays for projects that maintain the visitor center and monument access road. The Flagstaff-area monument attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year. 

Chiricahua National Park Act (Kelly/Sinema/Kirkpatrick): Rename the Chiricahua National Monument as a National Park. Local-elected leaders and tourism boards in southern Arizona requested the renaming as a way to attract more tourists to Cochise County.

Earlier this year, Kelly, Sinema and O’Halleran introduced the Grand Canyon Protection Act to strengthen the state’s economy by protecting the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s outdoor heritage. Last year, Kelly and Sinema co-sponsored the four pieces of legislation being introduced in the Senate today.