[Source: Joanna Dodder, Daily Courier] -- A new Congressional bill seeks to help protect public lands in Yavapai County and more than 800 other sites in the National Landscape Conservation System. The National Landscape Conservation System Act of 2007 aims to "conserve, protect and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific values." The U.S. Bureau of Land Management established the National Landscape Conservation System to recognize some of its special places. The bill would give congressional recognition to the 26-million-acre system and allow Congress to appropriate money directly to it. Four members of the House of Representatives, including Republican Rick Renzi and Democrat Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, introduced the House version of the bill Tuesday.
"Unlike the national parks, there's no guarantee that the Conservation System will be around five years from now," Renzi said in a press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which supports the measure. "These extraordinary places are being ruined by neglect, vandalism and misuse. Our action today recognizes the importance of protecting these lands forever." The Agua Fria National Monument (Monument petroglyph pictured), which sits next to Interstate 17 in southeast Yavapai County, is among those extraordinary places that people are abusing, said Scott Jones of the Sierra Club. Volunteers picked up literally tons of trash from just one monument site near the busy interstate on Earth Day last Sunday, Jones said. "People pulling off and tossing trash into a national monument is just unacceptable," Jones said. The 71,000-acre Agua Fria Monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric pueblos in the Southwest. The Arrastra Mountain, Hassayampa River Canyon, Hells Canyon and Upper Burro Creek wilderness areas in Yavapai County also are part of the National Landscape Conservation System. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]