The La Paz County Board of Supervisors has sent out a request for immediate input from the public, local environmental organizations, tourism/recreation focused businesses and other stakeholders on the subject of federal government land use in the County.
Citing a “multitude of federal actions that continue to deteriorate the County’s limited tax base”, a press release by the Board of Supervisors argues that the situation is one-sided, with benefits to the federal government from recent decisions at the expense of the County. Over 70 percent of La Paz County is made up of public lands for which the County sees no economic return.
“Projects under federal ownership have a history of contributing little towards the County’s financial vitality,” the statement reads, “yet they still require services paid for by taxpayers including fire, police and other social services. The Board of Supervisors seeks local support in demanding additional revenue streams from all governmental or commercial entities benefiting financially from the County’s finite resources to ensure that such projects are fairly contributing to a sustainable environmental or economic future for La Paz County.”
The latest project is a proposed $300 million power transmission line called the Ten West Link. The major power line would bisect the center of the County over one hundred miles, and would connect a substation in Maricopa County with one outside of the city of Blythe.
A public comment period on the proposal will follow a meeting in Quartzsite that will be hosted by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on June 14th (details below).
Among the other things cited in the statement, the Board mentions the BLM’s proposed Solar Entitlement Zone that would designate thousands of federal acres east of Brenda as the home of a new solar project, saying it would be a project “for the federal government’s benefit”. It continues:
“In addition, the US military has requested several hundred acres be added to the Yuma Proving Grounds. And without any communication with local stakeholders, the Bill Williams River area was recently removed by the federal government from the tax base with current efforts to isolate the area from recreational use.”
Also included in the statement is mention of a proposal that would take some of the federal land in La Paz County and deed it for local ownership to support economic development. La Paz County would lease some of the property and participate in the revenue generated from renewable energy projects “instead of receiving little to nothing for the resulting negative impacts created.” The Board cites the City of Boulder, NV which it says expects to receive more than $600 million in local revenues from the expected lifetimes of several solar projects for leases on property deeded to them by the BLM.
The statement goes on to read:
“Proponents of proposed renewable energy projects within La Paz County tout jobs and multiplier effects from services purchased locally. But research has shown that most of the construction jobs with these projects are temporary with unionized workers being bused in from California. Full time jobs are few. Cheap energy is delivered to California but not available locally. Taxes are collected on expensive services and equipment but typically at California Ports outside of our jurisdiction. While only minimal amounts of goods and services are purchased locally in the form of hotels or products. The negative impacts from these massive projects will forever change our desert aesthetics with impacts potentially including noise, safety concerns, possible health impacts and changes to allowed recreational use which may lead to the removal of land for residential, commercial or industrial development.”
The Supervisors concluded by appealing to the values of financial sustainability and fairness, and asked the public for its comments on the Ten West Link project. A meeting is set for June 14th from 12:30pm until 5pm at Quartzsite Senior Center, 40 S Moon Mountain Avenue, Quartzsite, Arizona 85346.
Comments can be sent via the below addresses and should be postmarked by June 28th, 2016.
La Paz County Board of Supervisors
1108 Joshua Street
Parker, AZ 85344