May 10, 2013 9:26 PM by Leasa Conze
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bill to expand the boundaries of Saguaro National Park is now making its way through Congress.
Representatives Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick are the original co-sponsors of the Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2013, and it was just reintroduced Thursday by Representative Raul Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Envirnomental Regulations.
This year's version of the bill wants to expand the Park to include 2,525 acres, with more valuable resources and ecological characteristics.
The move would create a permanent wildlife corridor to the Santa Cruz River from Saguaro National Park through the Sweetwater Preserve. It would also help ensure the lasting integrity of the Park from private encroachment.
According to Congressman Grijalva, all the owners of private land included in the proposal support the legislation and are willing to work with the National Park Service to incorporate their parcels into the Park.
Once the bill passes, NPS would have the authority to buy those private parcels with funds through the Land and Water Conservation Program or through donations or trade.
The Land and Water Conservation Program was set up in 1964 to collect fees from offshore drilling in order to fund land acquisitions and conservation. The current bill will not cost any federal money.