U.S. SENATE — Today, U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) pressed the Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service on the backlog of multiple maintenance projects on federal land in Arizona.
During a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Examining Deferred Maintenance Needs and Potential Solutions, McSally requested updates on the damaged water pipeline in Grand Canyon National Park and necessary repairs to Fossil Creek’s main access road.
“We know the importance that these [National] treasures have, not just so that people can come experience places like the Grand Canyon but for ecotourism and for our communities,” McSally said. “Can you elaborate more on the importance of the pipeline project getting completed as soon as possible, and the implications should it not be completed?”
Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta responded: “This is a tremendous burden for the economy because we depend on tourists for our economy, and as a gateway community—Flagstaff, Williams, all of the surrounding communities that struggle—this then creates a burden for the counties and for our economy.” When the pipeline breaks, restaurants in the Park cannot wash dishes and visitors cannot use permanent restroom facilities.
“Then people question ‘Do we really want to go to the Grand Canyon National Park?’” Archuleta continued.
McSally also asked USDA Forest Service Associate Chief J. Lenise Lago if a canceled meeting between Tonto National Forest supervisor and local stakeholders—which was abruptly canceled one day prior—would be rescheduled.
“Ms. Lago, a different topic on Fossil Creek and the importance of the $6 million that is needed to repair Forest Service Road 708 to get access to Fossil Creek,” McSally said. “I’m not sure if you’re familiar but there was a meeting scheduled for 60 days that was supposed to happen last week on this topic and it was canceled abruptly, and so a lot of folks are pretty unhappy about that. Can we get your commitment that we are going to get that meeting rescheduled immediately?”
USDA Forest Service Associate Chief J. Lenise Lago responded: “Yes, Senator. I’m so sorry for that and I will make sure it gets rescheduled immediately.”
Download McSally’s questioning HERE.
Following the hearing, McSally followed up on her request with a letter to Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. Download the letter to Chief Christiansen HERE.
On June 13, McSally introduced a bill to reduce wildfire risk through advanced forest restoration.
On April 11, McSally introduced the Addressing Underdeveloped and Tribally Operated Streets (AUTOS) Act to enhance the safety of roads on Indian lands to streamline the process for tribal road repairs, increase safety, and provide additional funding for backlogged projects.
On March 12, the John McCain 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act was signed into law as part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. McSally introduced the legislation to help tackle the backlog of park maintenance projects.