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(top left) Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, photo by Scott Jones; (top right) Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, photo by Hank Jorgensen; (bottom left) Black River through Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, photo by Scott Sprague; (bottom right) Four Peaks Wilderness, photo by Jim Vaaler
(top left) Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, photo by Scott Jones; (top right) Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, photo by Hank Jorgensen; (bottom left) Black River through Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, photo by Scott Sprague; (bottom right) Four Peaks Wilderness, photo by Jim Vaaler Protect Arizona’s Wild Lands

When people think about their favorite places in Arizona, some of our public lands are sure to be at the top of their lists. Arizona is blessed with approximately 30.5 million acres of federal public lands, from Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in the north to Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in the south, from the Blue Range Primitive Area in the east to the Trigo Mountains Wilderness in the west. Ken Burns referred to our National Parks as “America’s Best Idea” in his film series about the parks. We agree. These special areas include a variety of landscapes, plants, geology, archaeology, and history, as well as unique wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities.

Our Goals

  • protect our public lands from increasing demands, including development, recreational pressures, and extractive uses
  • ensure that forests are properly managed to protect remaining old growth habitat and to restore natural processes
  • protect large areas of and connectivity between undeveloped public lands in order to ensure resilient habitat for native plants and wildlife
  • limit impacts of mining, stop the most destructive mines, and reform outdated mining laws

Current News/Take Action!

  • Sierra Club Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter, files an objection to the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Record of Decision for the Four-Forest Restoration Initiative on the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests. To read our filing please click here.
  • Grand Canyon Chapter comments on Saguaro National Park Restoration Management Plan Environmental Assessment. To read these comments, please go here.
  • September 17, 2014, PHOENIX - Conservation and archaeological groups joined thousands of other Arizonans this week in submitting formal comments asking the Forest Service to revise its proposed travel-management plan for off-road vehicles in the Tonto National Forest to protect wildlife, air quality, cultural resources and wilderness values. Click here to read more (72 KB pdf).
  • Grand Canyon Chapter celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act by featuring wilderness hikes and articles in the Canyon Echo newsletter (Winter, Spring) To find out more about the 50th Anniversary activities, please go here.
  • May 07, 2012, The Arizona Republic, OPINIONS: Public Lands Deserve Protection by Sandy Bahr
  • Check out our latest action alerts to take action on current public lands issues.

For information on more ways to get involved, upcoming meetings and events, and more, please contact Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or


Coconino National Forest, photo by Tiffany Sprague
Coconino National Forest, photo by Tiffany Sprague

The environment of Arizona is typically associated with desert vistas and dramatic canyon views. Yet Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the United States. From the sky islands of Southern Arizona to the Kaibab Plateau along Grand Canyon’s North Rim, the forests of Arizona are home to a remarkable diversity of plants and animals, some found nowhere else on earth! As wild habitat throughout the Southwest is fragmented by development, public lands play an ever-greater role in the preservation of diverse and unique species.

Forests Forever! A new Vision for Arizona's National Forest (1.4 MB pdf) – learn more about the six forests in Arizona and how they’re managed

National Parks and Monuments

Sonoran Desert National Monument, photo by Thom Hulen
Sonoran Desert National Monument,
photo by Thom Hulen

Arizona houses 31 national parks, monuments, heritage sites, recreation areas, and more. These include spectacular places, such as Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Sonoran Desert National Monument, and Coronado National Memorial. Most of these areas are managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and five are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Sierra Club seeks to ensure that the management plans and any proposed projects in these areas protect and restore the natural systems and native species, safeguarding the remoteness and undeveloped character of the landscapes. We work to limit actions in and around these awe-inspiring places that have the potential to negatively affect the important resources for which they were set aside. That means working to reduce damage from irresponsible off-road vehicle activities, overgrazing by livestock, and introduction of invasive species, among other actions.


The Santa Rita Mountains are threatened by the proposed Rosemont Mine, photo by Kim Beck
The Santa Rita Mountains are threatened by the
proposed Rosemont Mine, photo by Kim Beck

The Sierra Club works to limit the impacts of mining in our state and to reform outdated federal hardrock mining laws that put mining above other important values on public lands. Mining can have significant negative impacts on landscapes, wildlife, waters, public health, and recreation.

We are a member of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, whose goal is to stop unduly destructive mining proposals in Arizona, including the Rosemont Mine, the Resolution Copper Mine, and some ill-sited uranium mines. The long-term goal is to reform the 1872 Mining Law to, at a minimum, do the following:

  • give clear full discretion to land management agencies to deny mining projects on public land
  • institute royalty payments on minerals taken from public lands (currently no royalties are paid for minerals removed from public lands)
  • permanently abolish the patenting system, which allows corporations to obtain public land for as little as $2.50 per acre, and institute a lease program in its place
  • codify the millsite rule, which made dumping of mining waste illegal on public land
  • require proper bonding and reclamation standards

To learn more about our mining campaign, please contact Don Steuter at (602) 956-5057 or


Celebrating 50 Years of American Wilderness

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and a year-long celebration of this important piece of legislation. Much has been written about this key environmental law and how it has affected public lands management. Much more remains to be written about it and about Arizona's 1984 and 1990 bills, which, along with the Wilderness Act itself, gave Arizona more than four million acres of wilderness.

Get out and explore one of Arizona's 90 wilderness areas. Here is a handy checklist.

Learn more and get involved by visiting!


Celebrate Wilderness Month with Tucson and Pima County!

Arizona just received our first two wilderness proclamations yesterday, Aug 5, 2014. The City of Tucson and Pima Country (where Tucson is located) each passed proclamations designating September as Celebrate Wilderness Month in their jurisdictions.


Tucson is surrounded by five wilderness areas that protect the beautiful mountainous backdrops for the city. Pima County includes eight wilderness areas, including areas managed by each of the four federal wilderness agencies. It is one of only two counties in the nation that have that distinction (along with San Bernardino in CA).

Thank you to Meg Weesner for all of her hard work to make this happen and thank you Tucson and Pima County for recognizing the value of wilderness.



Public Lands Resources

Public Lands Factsheet (1.5 MB pdf) – learn more about Arizona’s public lands and what you can do to help protect them

Mining Factsheet – discover why the 1872 Mining Law damages our public lands and is not in the best interest of American citizens

Oak Flat Factsheet– find out how you can help protect Oak Flat from the proposed Resolution Copper Mine

YouTube Video– A Not-So-Simple Exchange: Why Arizona's Oak Flat Deserves Continued Protection From Copper Mining

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas– learn more about the proposed Rosemont Mine in southern Arizona

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Current News


National Parks and Monuments



Public Lands Resources


photo by Zachary Crumbo
photo by Zachary Crumbo

To get involved with the Sierra Club’s public lands work in Arizona, please contact our office at (602) 253-8633 or email

Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Chapter, 202 E. McDowell Rd, Suite 277, Phoenix, AZ 85004, (602) 253-8633

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