June 17, 2004
Gov. Janet Napolitano gave a cautious endorsement of sorts Wednesday to efforts to revamp Arizona’s century-old laws on trust lands.
But the governor isn’t willing to say just yet she will sign what the Legislature is being asked to approve later this month.
Napolitano said she generally agrees with the package that was put together by developers, ranchers, educators and some conservation groups to make up to 675,000 acres of the more than 9 million acres of state-owned land off-limits to development.
The plan also would help builders in obtaining state property in urban areas and allow ranchers to get longterm leases for cattle grazing.
Backers want a special session to approve the issue and put it before voters in November.
"I’m prepared to call one if they’re prepared with a package that they have vetted and heard and have the votes for,’’ Napolitano said.
But the governor balked at a question of whether that means she will then sign the bill when it reaches her desk.
"Well, I’m not going to say that because I don’t know what ‘the bill’ is," she said.
Some environmental groups object to provisions that make it difficult for a conservation group that wants to let land "rest" to bid against a rancher for grazing leases.