U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said a plan to classify a public campground in Arizona as a historic site deceptively thwarts the state's economy and simultaneously prevents the development of a valuable copper mine and the creation of jobs associated with the mine.
Despite bipartisan pressure to abandon the classification, the U.S. National Park Service has listed Oak Flat, a public campground in Pinal County, in the National Register of Historic Places.
Oak Flat, situated on Forest Service land, was to be sold to a private mining operation with the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2014. Opponents of the sale urged the Forest Service and the National Park Service to name the campground a historic site.
“Shame on the Park Service and Forest Service for ramming a bogus historic place listing down the throats of Arizonans,” Gosar said. “Clearly, the Obama administration cares more about pandering to extremist environmental groups … than following the law and listening to the American public. Oak Flat has never been a sacred site, as confirmed by the local tribe’s own former historian.”
Gosar said the government is “hell-bent on sabotaging an important mining effort by listing a small, public campground 20 miles away from the nearest tribe’s reservation as a historic site.”
Gosar referred to high unemployment statistics (as much as 70 percent) in neighboring tribal communities and said initial plans for mining the site would create 3,700 jobs and generate $60 billion into Arizona’s economy. Additionally, the project would provide 25 percent of the nation’s entire copper supply as well as become the largest copper mine in North America.