We love climbing at The Pond, Atlantis and the Mine area. They are favorites for most of us who climb in the Queen Creek area. These areas have been the private property of Resolution Mining Company and its predecessors since the 1960’s or earlier. Climbing on this private property, The Pond, Atlantis, and parts of the Mine areas now requires that you register in order to gain legal access. This is an easy process. You can do this at: www.queencreekclimbing.com.
Registration does not mean that you endorse the Mine or Land Exchange. It is simply the way that climbers can access the private property without trespassing. This system was anticipated and agreed to under the Recreational Use License signed by the Access Fund covering the time period 2006 to 2011, and by Queen Creek Coalition’s current Recreational Use License with Resolution Copper that allows climbers on the private property.
Registration is an easy process where you go to the website, read a couple pages of information, and then sign an electronic form and waiver that you understand the rules that apply and that you agree to abide by them. You will receive an email in response from which you can download either an electronic copy or a hardcopy of your registration. It would be good for you to retain these and present them to the authorities on site if ever requested; however, it is also anticipated that the list of registrants will be stored by Queen Creek Coalition for any future verification.
This is a one-time and free process so once you are registered you are good to go.
You can read more about this process and the announcement at the Queen Creek Coalition website – www.theqcc.org or the Queen Creek Coalition’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Queen-Creek-Coalition-159979214054724/
March 18, 2016
Dear Interested Public:
On March 18, 2016, the Tonto National Forest issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Resolution Copper Project and Land Exchange. The EIS will analyze the environmental effects of: 1) a mining proposal submitted to the Tonto National Forest by Resolution Copper Mining, LLC; 2) the exchange of 2,422 acres of federal land near Oak Flat for 5,344 acres of privately held land elsewhere in Arizona; and 3) any necessary amendments to the Tonto National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.
The Tonto National Forest is seeking comments from the public to help in determining the scope of the environmental analysis. The 60-day scoping comment period will last from March 18 to May 17, 2016.
How to Submit Comments:
- Submit a comment at www.ResolutionMineEIS.us
- Email written comments to: comments@ResolutionMineEIS.us
- Send written comments via postal mail to: Resolution EIS Comments, P.O. Box 34468, Phoenix, AZ 85067-4468
- Send fax or voicemail to 866-546-5718
- Attend an open house public meeting
The open house meetings will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a formal presentation at 5:30 p.m., followed by a brief question and answer session.
- March 31, 2016, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Queen Valley Recreation Hall, 1478 East Queen Valley Drive, Queen Valley, Arizona.
- April 4, 2016, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Superior High School, Multi-purpose room, 100 Mary Drive, Superior, Arizona.
- April 5, 2016, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Elks Lodge, 1775 East Maple Street, Globe, Arizona.
- April 6, 2016, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Southwest Regional Library, 775 North Greenfield Road, Gilbert, Arizona.
I have attached an information handout that provides general information regarding the project. For additional project details, please visit www.ResolutionMineEIS.us or contact Mark Nelson, Tonto National Forest, 602-225-5222.
The Queen Creek Coalition continues to work with other recreational groups, land owners, and land managers to implement its vision of a Recreational Greenbelt in and around Superior, Arizona. Its partners include the Legends of Superior Trails, The Superior Chamber of Commerce, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Arizona Trail Association, the Tonto Recreation Alliance, and the East Valley Backcountry Horseman Association, in addition to Resolution Copper and the Tonto National Forest. This group is identifying roads and trails that will make up miles of dedicated recreational opportunities and is working under the label of the Recreational Users Group of Superior. The roads and trails will also replace lost access to rock climbing due to the Mine.
While some rock climbing will be lost, the secured access to rock climbing on Resolution Copper’s private property under the Recreational License Agreement between QCC and Resolution is a big “win” for climbers. And despite that defined loss of rock climbing crags within the zone of Mining Operations at some future time, most of the rock climbing crags in the area will remain. The biggest impact of the Mine is on rock climbing access because most of the rock crags lay outside of the Zone of Mining Operations but were accessed from USFS road that will be closed in the future. QCC is working to achieve alternative access to those remaining rock climbing crags.
The analogy would be a doughnut of rock climbing crags with a hole in the middle of it. Magma Mine Road runs through the “hole” and will be lost but the crags on the outside will remain. What is needed is access to the doughnut from its perimeter rather than its middle. The Recreational Users Group is entertaining road access to the doughnut from the outside as replacement access to the rock climbing crags.
One of the first of QCC’s projects is therefore the new Apache Leap Trail. Historically most access to Apache Leap has occurred from Magma Mine road or related USFS roads. Under the proposed new Apache Leap Trail access will be gained to the Leap via new road, parking and trail configurations that reach the Leap from the West and the Town of Superior.
The new Apache Leap Trail will be a multi-user trail designed and constructed by professional trail builders familiar with sustainable trial amenities. Okanagan Trail Construction has been engaged to conduct a Feasibility Study for the new trail. Many hikers and mountain bikers know of Okanagan’s work for sections of the Arizona Trail, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve trail systems, the Phoenix Parks Division, and many other projects around the Western United States – http://www.okanogantrail.com/index_home.html.
As shown in the attached photo, the new Apache Leap Trail will be a hiking-biking-riding loop that starts and ends in the Town of Superior. We anticipate a parking lot part-way up the hill to make it easier for climbers. The leg of the Apache Leap Trail that runs underneath the Leap will have designated Climber Access Trails similar to what climbers achieved with the climber access at Pinnacle Peak Park and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Stay tuned for progress on this important amenity for Superior, tourists, climbers and all recreational users in the region.
The QCC is working with other recreational users groups to develop plans for enhanced recreational opportunities in the Superior region of Arizona. Supported by Resolution Copper, QCC met with Legends of Superior Trail (LOST), International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Tonto Recreation Alliance (TRALS), the Arizona Trails Association (ATA), East Valley Back Country Horsemen (EVBCH), and the USFS November 30 in the Superior Chamber of Commerce offices. The group hopes to develop coordinated plans for new recreational opportunities that build on the existing excellent resources that currently exist.
Over the next period of time QCC, LOST, IMBA, TRALS, ATA, and EVBCH will be submitting coordinated plans to the USFS for these new resources that will open or improve roads, trail heads, and trails for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, horse back riders, trail runners, off-road vehicles and other outdoor enthusiasts. Resolution Copper is working with these groups to promote recreational opportunities that will be repositioned due to its mining efforts.
The goal is to create what QCC has held as a core goal from its inception – the creation of recreational greenbelt for the whole Superior region. Networks of roads and trails will allow access to the Arizona Trail as well as regional hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and mountain biking trails.
The recreational greenbelt will solidify Superior as an in-state and out-of-state tourist destination and provide a sustainable economic engine for its citizens. The opportunities for this private-public partnership are impressive.
The following article ran in the Arizona Central website and was published in the Sunday edition of the Arizona Republic. In the article, the reporter, Bob Young, tries to give both sides of a tough subject matter – what is the best outcome for Resolution’s proposed Mine near Superior. We commend Bob Young for his article and recommend it to everyone.
Here is some commentary that expands on QCC’s view of the subject matter:
It’s probably not appropriate to set it up as “Recreation” versus “Mining”. They are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary in a very real way. It is a false approach to compare the value of one to the other on a broad basis. That would be like comparing “banking” to “aerospace” as contributors to the Arizona economy. Indeed land is usually appraised by the specific use of the land and the highest and best use of a specific parcel of land. If recreationists were to lose “Oak Flat” they would simply move their recreational monies elsewhere. Very little real monies would be lost to the Arizona economy.
In this case a symbiosis is more realistic – “Climb and Mine” or even more broadly “Recreate and Mine,” a Both/And with partnerships being formed that will create the recreational greenbelt around the Mine to a large part funded by the Mine. Climbers, Trail hikers, and Mountain bikers are already working to achieve these goals.
Alarmist narratives can be misleading. What is being “lost” is at its core the specific 700 +/- acres of the Oak Flat parcel, which folks have referenced in the past as the Withdrawal Parcel. Most of what is outside of Oak Flat proper is being saved, or already has valid mining claims on the land which allows Resolution to mine anyway.
Very importantly, much of the best close-in rock climbing is on Resolution’s private property which they have owned since the 1960’s. It is only QCC’s Recreational Use License that gains climbers access to the private property on which Atlantis and The Pond lay.
It takes money to develop recreational resources. The mining roads wouldn’t exist without mining and existing ones would disappear. Access to climbers across private property would preclude current and future use. New roads, trail heads and trails to climbing and other recreational areas would not be built. And none of the above would be maintained with an allocation of some level of future resources.
Resolution seems willing to provide the monies to create the recreational resources that would otherwise be unobtainable by recreationists on their own. They are already putting their monies where their mouth is by funding trail studies in and around Superior and by entering into agreements with other users.
By working together we can have opportunities for partnerships among recreational users facilitated by Resolution
Climbers and other recreationists will continue to enjoy Queen Creek Canyon (Atlantis and the Pond are owned by Resolution Copper).
- Climbers and other recreationist will continue to enjoy and expand their opportunities for Upper and Lower Devils Canyon and Apache Leap.
- Climbers and other recreationists will see new opportunities in the region as the monies afforded by Resolution are able to create new access to public lands and to turn private holdings into secured public recreation.
Smart outdoor recreation enthusiasts will look to forming partnerships with Resolution Copper to achieve mutually beneficial goals for themselves, as well as the “green” sustainable economy for Superior and the region.
Feasibility Study for Apache Leap Trail
One of the projects that QCC has been working on is to open up access for a west-side approach to Apache Leap. This idea was envisioned early in our planning and discussions with Resolution Copper when we were negotiating the Recreational Use License that was signed in July of 2012.
Basically the idea is to provide a permanent public access alternative to reach Apache Leap from the Town of Superior off of Highway 177 just south of Town. An existing USFS road commonly referred to as Cross Canyon Road climbs up the west facing slope crossing both Resolution Copper and USFS lands. There are several Resolution Copper monitoring wells along the way. Heretofore the road has been gated and access limited.
Our vision for a public, multi-use trail system would be to have a trail up the hill on the south end, move horizontally across the hillside underneath The Leap, and then return back down the hill at the north end. In a manner similar to the low impact climber access routes that run to the climbing crags from the main City trails at Pinnacle Peak Park and the Tom’s Thumb Trail Head, low impact climber access routes would lead to the existing and potential new climbs at Apache Leap.
We are very pleased to announce that Resolution Copper, working with QCC, has engaged a nationally-known trail building company to conduct a Feasibility Study of the potential trail pathways. Okanagan Trail Construction is currently under contract and engaged in the Feasibility Study. We are looking forward to their results and will provide you news updates as they occur. Any actual trail construction will have to go through an approval process with the authorized jurisdictions and agencies.
You may also be aware that the International Mountain Bicycling Association is working with the Legends of Superior Trail Committee to create mountain biking trails in the area. The work of QCC should add to those enhanced recreational opportunities.
The QCC has been working to fulfill its mission of maximizing rock climbing in the Queen Creek region. Here is an update an overview of recent news and some of our activities. On December 19, 2014 President Obama signed into law the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act as a part of larger legislation. The exchange will bring into federal stewardship 5,344 acres of high priority conservation land in exchange for 2,422 acres of national forest system land. The land exchange act contains provisions for a NEPA review prior to finalization and government to government negotiations with the Native American community.
Resolution Copper will be able to add the exchange lands to their existing mining claims and private property for purposes of mining a huge copper ore deposit near Superior, Arizona. Because the significant economic value of the copper ore and the jobs mining it will produce, the Queen Creek Coalition has always believed that the Mine will happen. Given that strong likelihood, the Queen Creek Coalition chose to work with Resolution Copper to achieve mutually beneficial goals. There is a tremendous potential for the whole Queen Creek area to develop a sustainable economy based on the rich recreational resources that currently exist and could be developed.
We believe that working with Resolution Copper will help us see increased regional opportunities for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, canyoneers, and other recreational users. We anticipate being able to begin announcing some of the steps to secure existing and possible climbing crags in the Queen Creek Region as a whole. In July of 2012, Resolution and the Queen Creek Coalition entered into a Recreational Use License that lays out the groundwork for continued climbing on existing climbing areas and expanding climbing and recreational opportunities in the region (See website post of https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=398378283548148&id=159979214054724 for an Overview of the Recreational use License.)
The Mine was going to happen with or without the Land Exchange Please keep in mind that Resolution owns 1,000’s of acres of private property in and around Superior, Arizona and has had the Mining Claims on USFS lands to mine on all except the 700-some odd acres set aside for the Oak Flat Campground. If you have been to the Mine Area or region recently you will see that they have been “mining”. Resolution already sunk the mine shaft down to the ore deposit. The Land Exchange merely gives them land adjoining to where they were mining already. Given that Resolution was going to mine anyway, they would have been able to close-off all access on Magma Mine Road on the grounds of mine safety. Oak Flat might have remained within the USFS jurisdiction, but access to it would have been closed off as a normal course of mining activity. “Save Oak Flat” was never going to work or save anything
The Land Exchange merely adds that 700-odd acres to the contiguous and larger lands Resolution already owns and can mine. Access to all current climbing areas will continue to exist. The Pond and Atlantis are owned by Resolution Copper and have been private property since the 1960’s. As private property owners, they control what will occur or not occur on their land. Liability for activities on that land is high and as was outlined in the 2006 License Agreement negotiated by the Access Fund with Resolution Copper and now held by the QCC. Therefore, rock climbing on Resolution’s currently owned and future lands will be governed by the legal requirements set out in the License. These requirements will be simple and easy to meet. In the not too distant future climbers will register to continue to climb on Resolution’s private property. This will be handled by QCC through a one-time and life long registration process for individuals online that will not commit registrants to any political position concerning the future of the Mine. It will simply be a legal requirement.
Climbing on lands with the jurisdiction of the United States and the State of Arizona will continue to be open for rock climbing until such times as the mining activity and Recreational Use License permit. This includes those areas close-in to the Mine, e.g., the Mine Area, Eurodog Valley, and Oak Flat. It also includes climbing crags that are not close to the Mine, e.g., Northern, Upper, Lower Devils Canyon, and Apache Leap. At some point climbing access to the close-in areas will be drawn down but working in conjunction with Resolution Copper, QCC will work to secure long term access to the Devils Canyon and Apache Leap, access which has been far from secure in the past when such access was not guaranteed by law.
Because of the good working relationship between QCC and Resolution, the two entities will strive to keep rock climbing open as long as possible on areas ultimately within the active mining area. Other areas that are not within the active mining area and that will become the private property of Resolution due to the Land Exchange will be considered for inclusion within the Recreational Use License. Please remember that while climbing has occurred on these crags, the access to those crags has been to some extent under the control of Resolution and could have been diminished as part of the mining process. Access to Regional climbing areas are being targeted for possible improvement There are rich climbing opportunities in the Queen Creek region. Working with Resolution, QCC is looking for ways to expand and improve climber access to those regional crags, many of which occur on private lands or have significant access issues. The QCC’s goal is to maximize the Net Rock Climbing with a potential hope to end up with more secure rock climbing opportunities in the region than have existed hereto. We hope to begin to announce several of those projects in the near future.