Proposal to change Chiricahua National Monument to a National Park headed to full US Senate vote

After several attempts, it’s looking more likely that the Chiricahua National Monument may become Arizona’s fourth national park.

Senate Bill S.736, co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, was approved May 17, 2023, by voice vote in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The next step will be a vote by the full Senate, which is not yet scheduled.

An identical bill, H.B. 1479, was sponsored in the House by Rep. Juan Ciscomani.

Chiricahua Regional Council (CRC) is deeply concerned about the effect of this change on the surrounding area and its biological habitats. While we acknowledge the apparent fiscal benefits of a national park to local governmental and tourist organizations, no mention has been made of an increase in the national monument’s budget. The current status of the surrounding roads, parking, trailheads, campground, and the nearby Coronado National Forest cannot support the likely influx of traffic without additional funding. CRC would also want confirmation that the water supply, pipes, and distribution system at what is now considered to be a “hidden gem” as a national monument will be sufficient to support the increased visitor load at a national park.

In addition, the likely spillover of traffic across the mountain into Cave Creek Canyon is of concern. This fragile ecosystem is the biological crown jewel of the Coronado National Forest’s sky islands because of its unmatched high biological diversity: it is site of the Cave Creek Canyon Protection Act of 1993, and in 2020 it received a zoological-botanical Special Designation by the US Forest Service that celebrates its world’s-densest population of birds of prey.

For these reasons, CRC has requested a meeting with Senator Mark Kelly’s staff to discuss this issue.

For more information, here’s a link to the Senate bill.

And to the Ciscomani House bill.

Here is a May 18, 2023, story from AZPM and a background story from last March.

How to contact the relevant members of Congress:

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