Last week, a new bill (HB 2271) was signed into law that officially designates the first Saturday of every April as Public Lands Day in Arizona. The Grand Canyon State has a plethora of public land, including countless parks, 11 monuments, preserves, national forests, rangelands, wildlife refuges and 12 different wilderness areas. These lands are a viable part of the state’s infrastructure and will now have a day each year for residents to celebrate.
Governor Doug Ducey signed the bipartisan bill into law after the legislation passed through both chambers unanimously. This is likely because Arizonians support getting outside and enjoying recreational activities. In fact, according to Colorado College’s 2019 State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll, 53% of Arizona residents say access to public lands was “a significant reason they live in the West.”
The new law has widespread support across the state, particularly from public land advocates.
“Arizona Public Lands day will provide an opportunity to celebrate the incredible public lands in our state and to get people outdoors helping with cleanup efforts and other conservation projects,” said Brad Powell, president of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “From community playgrounds to the Grand Canyon, from wildlife refuges to historic sites, our public lands should be honored and preserved for years to come. I'm thrilled our legislators and Governor agree that it's time for an Arizona Public Lands Day.”
“It is great to see the Legislature and Governor recognize Arizona’s public lands and all they mean to diverse constituencies across our state,” said Laura Dent, executive director, CHISPA, Arizona. “The passage of HB 2271 is an acknowledgment that we must celebrate and protect our greatest treasures: our public lands and parks. These beloved spaces, be they federal, state, or local lands, benefit our shared environment, health, and economy, and represent the legacy we leave for future generations.”
“From the cascading waters of the Colorado River rushing through the depths of the Grand Canyon to the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks, we are blessed with a public lands treasure,” said Nathan Rees, Arizona coordinator for Arizona Trout Unlimited. “HB 2271 establishes the first Saturday of April as Public Lands Day in Arizona. We thank all of the State Representatives and Governor Ducey for their unanimous support.”