WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04), Yavapai County Supervisor Thomas Thurman and Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski released the statements after introducing H.R. 6146, the Cottonwood Land Exchange Act of 2018, at the request of Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.
The proposed legislation will, if approved, authorize, direct, expedite, and facilitate a land exchange between Yavapai County and Coconino National Forest near Cottonwood, for the purposes of connecting separated tracts and consolidating land.
U.S. Representative Gosar (AZ-04) said, “The Cottonwood Land Exchange consolidates multiple checkerboards of land at the request of local stakeholders. Currently, most of the parcel owned by the County is unusable due to the presence of an endangered species. The parcel owned by the Forest Service is entirely surrounded by county and private land. This locally-driven legislation also allows for significant improvements at a high-traffic county park. This bipartisan bill is good for the County, good for the Forest Service, good for local species and good for families that like parks. I’m am pleased to have worked with Yavapai County officials, community leaders, students, parents and the Forest Service to craft this common-sense bill that allows for the most efficient use of lands involved in the exchange.”
Supervisor Thurman said, “In an effort to provide the community with an opportunity to use the land, Yavapai County is willing and able to exchange the 369-acre parcel that abuts the Coconino National Forest (CNF) for the 80-acre parcel of CNF land. That parcel is neither contiguous nor adjacent to the rest of the CNF lands, and is surrounded by County land or private land. Exchanging land that can be used by the community to enhance their existing county park for land that has limited use just makes sense. I applaud Representative Gosar and members of the Arizona delegation for responding to our request and moving forward with this community-driven solution.”
Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski concluded, “Windmill Park is a source of pride for local citizens. Connecting the community and expanding this highly-utilized county park will create lasting benefits for future generations. The issues addressed by this bill are something area residents have pushing for a long time. Further, this legislation provides greater protections for the Arizona Cliff Rose, an endangered species, by exchanging land with the Forest Service that we cannot utilize. I am grateful for the leadership of all involved, including efforts by Northern Arizona University students, the Yavapai County Supervisors, my staff at the City of Cottonwood, community leaders in Cornville and Representative Gosar.”
Original cosponsors of Congressman Gosar’s legislation include: Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09).
Yavapai County officials have been in discussions with the Forest Service for several years and passed a resolution in favor of advancing this mutually beneficial exchange.
The isolated lot of National Forest land is an 80-acre island parcel not contiguous or adjacent to any other Forest or state land.
It is surrounded completely by private or county land which is mostly residential in nature.
The 369 acres which the Coconino National Forest would receive from the County will add value to the Forest Service system by connecting separated tracts and consolidating land already under the stewardship of the Forest Service.
The County has stated that it would like to maintain the land as a park and other public use in order to better serve the residents of Yavapai County, City of Cottonwood and the community of Cornville. Specifically, Yavapai County has expressed that it would like to maximize use of the park and make it easier for visitors to access the park by making significant improvements that include adding a walking bridge, adding a new trail and expanding the park.
As clearly outlined in the bill, Yavapai County has agreed to pay for the required land surveys, appraisals, and any other costs necessary to complete the exchange.