Saguaro National Park once again goes to Washington in search of - Tucson News Now

Saguaro National Park once again goes to Washington in search of an expansion

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Southern Arizona's congressional delegation is sponsoring the expansion of Saguaro National Park, and they think that they have a chance for both sides of the aisle to join in.

The park would gain more than 2500 acres, which is less than three percent of the park's current 91,000 acres.  Both the east and west districts would expand.  East district would gain some of Rincon Creek and the Arizona Trail.  The west district would protect a connection to the Sweetwater Preserve.

Congressman Raul Grijalva and fellow Democrat Peter DeFazio of Oregon met with the park superintendent Friday.  The bill has been introduced to the House Natural Resources Committee.  While Democrats are pushing the bill, and it's the third time, they expect bipartisan support because no land has been added to the nation's parks in the past three years.  Some land would be donated, while other land must either be traded or bought.  And any spending would be done from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We underspent Land Water Conservation Funds, the income stream we have for expansions like this by $600 million last year.  I know this isn't anywhere near that," said Congressman Peter DeFazio, (D) Oregon.

"The Republican chairman of the committee has said I'll consider bills that have no local opposition, bills where there's community buy-in, stakeholders have met, and that we have willing sellers, that we're not taking people's land.  This meets all the criteria," said Congressman Raul Grijalva.

The sign that the bill sponsors will be looking for is to get a hearing.  If they get one, they don't expect anyone to speak in opposition.

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