Arizona environmentalists now have a chance to lease state lands for conservation purposes. As signed by Gov. Fife Symington, the Arizona Preserve Initiative allows conservation groups to lease state lands, estimated at 30,000 acres, within a three-mile radius of all major cities.
bill from Symington proposed to open up over 700,000 acres of land
anywhere in the state. The Arizona Cattlemen's Association lobbied
hard to kill that idea. Ranchers want state lands in rural areas to
benefit the economy, says spokesman Bas Aja. But the group
supported the amended bill because it helps preserve open spaces
around cities. "We'd rather have this than shopping malls," Aja
Environmentalists say the bill is only a
small first step toward conserving state lands. "The only reason we
think this is positive," says Sandy Barr of The Nature Conservancy,
"is because the handling of our state lands is so awful right now."
* Bill Taylor