If, in fact, the letter Payson received from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regarding the land exchange between the Forest Service and the Tonto Apaches, was an official comment letter, then Payson should be expressing its concerns and hopefully objections.
This is the only process you will get and it could be over and done within 90 days.
1. The BIA is not a neutral federal agency. It is there to represent the tribes and has been since the Nixon administration. Big clue.
2. The tribe should be disclosing exactly what they will be doing with the land.
3. Where is National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in all this?
4. What if the tribe decides they have claim to federal reserves of water rights?
5. Once it is in trust status neither Payson or Arizona will have any say in what they do.
6. Why does it have to be so much land? Does Payson really want this at the town's entrance? Will Payson receive any tax revenue from the commercial development? Will it be more gambling?
7. You bet this is a political mine field and a possible legal one as well.
8. There are new regulations in the Oct. 5 Federal Register to be dealt with.
9. You should have your fight before the land is placed into trust status. Why would you wait until after the fact?
10. Payson should, in fact, not remain neutral, but should be representing its residents in what is a major change of land status.
11. Good contracts make good neighbors.
Barbara Buntin, Benson